A Draft for Asinabka

Summer 2017
Originally published with continent. (2015)


A narrative mirror of appropriation and erasure reveals the rhetoric of legal and public discourse around Windmill’s corporate ZIBI development on unceded Algonquin land. A vision of a nation sold – rivers dammed, water privatised, the sacred disremembered, the rich honoured. A project of documentary and archival reconstruction, A Draft for Asinabka references experimental poetics, where fragmentation tells a history on the precipice of past and present.

Language is the hand of resistance or compromise. Memory is given shape and appropriated through the amplified narratives. Multiplicity and intersection of event reveals dominant form.

Language poet and political scientist Bruce Andrews described editing as the reading moment – editorial composition serving as method by which it is possible to reveal, according to Boston Review critic, Brian Kim Stefans, “the complex social vectors underlying even our most mundane activities and assumptions”. Sequence is recreated through antichronology: a fragmentation that isolates an immediate response to facts, that is unlike the interpretation of linear, chronological narrative. Assemblage involves this instant reading of the deep structures of events – the architectures of media representation, the absurd rhetoric of political process and interests.

In 1937, American writer Henry Beston composed a manuscript called American Memory: Being a Mirror of the Stirring and Picturesque Past of Americans and the American Nation, reconstructing a narrative of American history through archival documents such as letters, statements and laws. A condensed interpretation of this archival sampling is contemporary writer Rosmarie Waldrop’s A Shorter American Memory. The reconstruction of both Beston and Waldrop borrows its fragmentary and contrasting nature from collage. The underlying, invisible frame is tempting of both editorial and authorial hand, but recomposes in a way that is faithful to existing, recurring motif. Privilege and invisibility are found in publicly available statements, press excerpts, and legal documents. The most recent, the most urgent and accessible material reveals the tone of event and its documentation.

A Draft for Asinabka is exactly this – a draft, a parsed experiment with the exhausting cycle of history, the ubiquity of greed, and the seductive prose of both neoliberal mechanisms and grassroots resistance surrounding the development. The material in this draft is not intended to be a comprehensive document, nor is this possible as events and opinions continue to be publicised. Asinabka is the Anishinaabemowin name given to the region that encompasses Akikpautik (the Chaudière Falls); Albert, Victoria, and Philemon Islands, at the border between Gatineau-Hull and Ottawa. It refers also to the vision developed by Elder William Commanda, for the islands now being contested for the Zibi condominium development by Windmill Corp. (Toronto) and Dream Unlimited Corp. (Toronto).

Event is catalogue.
Catalogue is language.
Language is the force of system.

Lital Khaikin

Lital Khaikin is a Russian-Canadian writer and publisher based in Montréal. Her chapbook Outplace was published with San Francisco-based press, Solar Luxuriance, in May 2017. A selection of her writing, alethe, was translated into Italian for digital publication by Versi Guasti in November 2018. Other literary writing has appeared in publications including Sorority Mansion Review: “Year of the Dog”, 3:AM Magazine, Queen Mob’s Teahouse, Berfrois, .PLINTH., sleepingfish, and the “Vestiges” journal by Black Sun Lit.

Her journalism can be found in Canadian publications like Briarpatch and the Media Co-op, with forthcoming work in Warscapes, and has had reportage translated into Mandarin. She is the founder and publisher of The Green Violin, a slow-burning ‘samizdat’-style literary press for the free distribution of poetry, essays, prose, and literary paraphernalia.