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October 24, 2002 Travel, trope and spoken word devices




by Scott McRae

The cleverly-designed garlic press, the Japanese gel-ink pen, the semi-colon, the alphabet — these are some of Corey Frost’s favourite devices. The Concordia creative writing graduate and award-winning member of Montreal’s spoken-word scene has gadgets on his mind.

They appear everywhere in his first book, My Own Devices, whether in the shape of answering machines, eyeglasses or books by Vladimir Propp.

Although he borrows from Japanese pop culture, collage arrangements and multimedia techniques, Frost’s devices are mostly literary. His writing is a mixture of autobiography seasoned with fabulations, post-modern wit, and literary sleight-of-hand. For example, Corey Frost names every protagonist in the short stories in his book Corey Frost.

“The Corey Frosts in the stories are not always the same (they have some commonality) but they all represent aspects of me, good and bad, so in that way, “I’m also playing with the idea of fictional persona as identity, which is a major component of much spoken word,” Frost said in an interview.

Frost describes himself as filling the brainy narrative and multimedia niche of the spoken-word community.
His spoken-word performances are often accompanied by various forms of multimedia, from intricate soundscapes to video projections.

This interest in multimedia stems from his understanding of presentation. “I believe context is all-important, so I’ve always paid close attention to the design of my publications and to the sound and look of my performances.

“The writing process isn’t over until the writing is delivered, whether it’s on paper or through the air.”
In fact, this idea fascinates Frost so much that he is basing his PhD dissertation at the City University of New York on the topic and is, for his next publication, creating a multimedia CD-ROM of his performances entitled Bits World: Exciting Version.

Although Frost cites influences ranging from Roland Barthes and Kathy Acker to gum wrappers and Gilligan’s Island, one aspect of his life weighs particularly strongly on his writing.

In fact and in fiction Frost is a traveller.

“The stories in my book are about trying to understand people in other places when travelling, but they are often also about leaving room to re-evaluate yourself, rather than simply observing and judging.”

This is a lesson that Frost’s audience would do well to apply to his craft, for he and his spoken-word peers are forcing us to re-evaluate how we perceive the literary arts.

My Own Devices, by Corey Frost, is published by Conundrum ($14.95, paperback, 159 pp).