The last time Michael Turner published a book of poetry, Bill Clinton was President of the United States and Sandra Bullock starred in a cyber mystery called The Net. The last time the author published a book was 2008’s 8x10. Turner suggests 9x11 is also “based on a conceit” which is 9/11, which the author points out gets its title not after a particular space (the WTC, Ground Zero) but by time (September 11, 2001). Ever the innovator of genres and formulas for storytelling, Turner’s excitement about his new poetry book is all about time and space. “What interests me is how time is spatialized — turning time (9/11) into space (9x11), as Wagner attempted to do in his opera Parsifal (1882).”
Numbers don’t lie and looking backwards, one can easily detect a sequence in regard to his last two books. “8x10 is a visual experiment. Another experiment in the book is based on what has been described as its subtractions: what is not visible because it is not presented literally in the written text — namely, names (identity), places (space) and times (day, month, year).”
Readers familiar with 8x10, will recall that each “story” is titled by a darkened box in an 8x10 grid. “The boxes that are not darkened,” Turner explains, “that are skipped, add up to a multiplier (x) that links the numbers 8 and 10. This multiplier — this “unknown value to find,” as described in 9x11 (“x”) — is the underlying figure that unifies the stories in the way chapters are said to unify a novel. But there are other (potential) unifiers in 8x10 — recurrent references to those “seven tree-lined ridges,” etc. — but they are nowhere as powerful as the multiplier.”
Why did the author do this? “Because I wanted to convey what I saw at the time as an emergent displacement (eviction, migration) brought on by the unseen flow of capital, the “unseen hand” of the market — a displacement that would invariably result in incarceration, detention, like what we are seeing today, particularly in North America and Europe.”
Michael Turner is the author of several acclaimed books including Company Town, Hard Core Logo, Kingsway, American Whiskey Bar, and The Pornographer’s Poem which was awarded the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize 2000. Bruce McDonald directed a film based on Hard Core Logo; he also directed a live telecast dramatizing Turner’s novel American Whiskey Bar in 1998, which aired on CityTV.