Projects: On Day 58 of retyping James Joyce


I’m on day 58 of retyping & rewriting The Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man. You can find the retype here:

The rewrite is written out and logged in Word on my computer and formatted in the same way as my copy of the Joyce novel. I’ve been approached by a couple of publishers to submit it when it’s done, therefore, I will decide what to do with it after the project is completed.

Some might call the idea of retyping James Joyce as mundane. Unlike reading it and turning the page, I find myself typing, reading it, and having to stop myself from typing more of it. I would, but if the purpose of this experiment is to “get inside James Joyce’s head,” then it would behoove me to take a day to digest each page. The constraints I’ve imposed on this project have been to specifically engage with the text as opposed to “getting” Joyce.

Which brings me to the debate I’ve had recently with a few about the title. I’ve been told that in order to get to know Joyce, that I should speak to scholars or read books on Joyce’s history. That it would take me decades to figure out the layers within the author’s pages in order to “get to know” Joyce. I’m not coming to this project out of nowhere though. Even though I don’t qualify myself as a Joyce scholar, I’ve read Ulysses at least ten times in my life. It might be an odd book for me to re-read, but it’s the book I go back to as much as I do with pulp, like VC Andrews novels. A weird mix, I know, but it’s my mix. You have to go back a few posts for the explanation of my fascination with Joyce though, so I can understand people’s bewilderment with both the title and where I’m coming from with this.

Retyping James Joyce is one of my first uncreative writing projects. After reading Kenneth Goldsmith’s Uncreative Writing (what I consider now as an essential text that every modern day writer should read), and a chapter where he mentions Simon Morris’ retype of Kerouac’s On The Road (another one of my favorite re-reads), it felt like something I wanted to do. Choosing The Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man was logical for me since it was the Joyce novel I had yet to read. Experiencing his prose in the most experimental of forms (yeah yeah yeah Finnegan’s Wake…we can discuss that over drinks if you ever meet me), has given me a different perspective on not just Joyce’s writing, but on writing in general. When I read, I discount anything about the author, even in autobiographies. It’s a technique I learned when my world literature professor, Professor Charles Lock , introduced me to reading books three times: 1. Reading a book as a fiction with no history connected to it. 2. Reading a book as a non-fiction with a history connected to it. 3. Reading a book as pure text.

In Portrait, Joyce starts off infantile in his prose almost to the point where it’s hazy and mixed, with a children’s story. He can’t really make out words, just images of them.:

His father told him that story: his father looked at him through a glass: he had a hairy face.

A lot of repetition and a lot of images, smells, and sentence fragments are sprinkled out right at the beginning. There is so much more now after page fifty. The style gets more coherent and images become sharp like a movie being filmed with tight shots and all of a sudden we’ve achieved….wide angle lens. I’m enthralled. I’d say more, but it would take more than just a blog post to write about my explorations right now. Maybe a concise book review would be in order after the project is done which will be about 218 days from now.

I’m very much looking forward to it. As it is, this project has sparked quite a few things now:

1. Typing out James Joyce poems on old Imperial 6 typewriter:

2. Reading Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis backwards for 55 days:

3. As mentioned above, re-writing Portrait a page a day.

4. On going film reviews. This year, I’ve taken it upon myself to go back to my love of movies. I used to sneak in Cinema Studies classes into my schedule in university and I learned more about criticism and analysis in those classes than I did in most of my literature classes. Bookworm-ing has always been my escape, but cinema makes the gears in my head go completely haywire. I believe it has to do with my “autistic” fondness for visuals. Regardless, cinema has continually been a focus and I’m happy that I’m back at watching movies the same way again. Recently I’ve made cases for  Kubrick’s 2001 (which along with Psycho 2, and Taxi Driver {with Paul Schrader in attendance, no less!} I saw on big screen as well!), Weir’s Master and Commander (and in turn, Das Boot), and Spielberg’s Lincoln on this blog. I’m still making a case for Conan The Barbarian (SHUDDUP), but have been delayed due to a few rewrites and my anticipation at watching Kubrick’s The Shining again on the big screen at the TIFF Bell Lightbox this weekend. I started writing up a review of it, but will save it until I see it again. Kubrick movies calm the OCD in me: it’s visual and audio poetry. There’s so much I could go on about books and film with Kubrick.


Also, cooking up a review of Shane Carruth’s Upstream Color , which I recently saw and I’m dying to buy soon (GO SEE IT IF YOU FIND IT!). I could review every Kubrick and Scorsese flick to death, but I’m looking for a challenge. Kind of like my case in defending Master and Commander or writing a review for a bad movie. I’d like to experiment and see if I can take apart a movie that isn’t so great. I hate spoilers, but I’m going to require utilizing them if I want to take the review into more analytical territory. I’m still navigating all that.

I’m very excited to see La Jetee on the big screen too next week. That film and Chris Marker are highly influential when it comes to experimental film in my life. And don’t even get me started of Fellini. Oh Federico.<3


Old course book for Italian Cinema with Professor Angelo Principe.

5. Now that my artshow at Playful Grounds is done, I’m setting up shop and selling my paintings & prints. Already sold two originals, so I’m grateful for that. I’m working on the cells to the graphic novel that this show was spun off from. Since I started I’ve added two new characters and since it’s also in a visual poetry style, it’s made it a far more involved work, which I enjoy.

When asked what this retype can do for me, so far it’s kept me from the abyss of writer’s block. My last bout lasted about 15 years of no creative output, (with the exception of my children, of course, but I consider them outside me. Ha.). I’m keeping busy and the ideas keep coming. I haven’t experimented so much with words and poetry as I have recently: you can also check out some stuff in my Noise and Video page.

I’m not aiming to write the great Canadian novel, because really what is? I’m a second generation Colombian mixed-race bisexual Canadian woman. There are tons of us out  there, but not all of us are the same. I write from my perspective and hopefully with uncreative writing, I’m accomplishing something outside of that experience, and who knows, maybe I’ll see more of myself in it than just those labels I’ve described myself as: writer, Canadian, woman…so on and so forth. I’m not aiming to be anything other than what I am: a writer who experiments, who loves to read, happens to be a cinephile, and wants to keep learning.

If there is one aim that I would love to go for, it would be to come back as a robot or computer or a computer program: analyzing unpredictable algorithms and seeing the math among the stars. I believe James Joyce did that, and maybe that’s why I love his work. Maybe.


On May 26, I’ll be one of the featured poets at Howl at Q Space in Toronto. I will post up more details as I get them.

For now, I’ll leave with a photo of my daughter as Daft Punk (she’s a big Daft Punk and Wendy Carlos fan).



  1. Jesus, thanks for doing this and for all you’re currently doing. It’s quite inspiring and I’m glad to find someone discussing the retyping process as it’s always been an interest of mine. Please do keep up the good work. I look forward to more of this!


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