Friday, August 28, 2020

folio : Peter Ganick (1946-2020)


William Bain : Peter Ganick

I met Peter on the wryting-l listserv. People familiar with wryting will already know about the samizdat aspect it includes. Of course people familiar with the arts in general will already know how such gatherings, online or off,  provide considerable feedback, encouragement, ribbing, guarded critiques, and other conversational thrusts and parries.

In any case Peter was among the first people on wryting that I had direct exchanges with. The texts and commentaries we posted were of course open for everyone to read and comment on. But occasionally Peter and I also exchanged more direct comments on some piece, getting into how it struck us and why, how we thought it might be improved—the usual thing.

I at first assumed Peter was working only in text, but after seeing a few of his posts I saw he was also a musician and visual artist. At some point, in some comments to the list in general, he talked about his admiration for the music of John Coltrane. He had, he said, taken up Coltrane’s way of creating a “wall of sound” and converted it into writing poetry as a wall of text. He may have said block of text—I think he used both terms.

People familiar with Peter’s writing will already know what he was talking about. I can’t speak very knowledgeably about everything he was doing with his “block” texts. What I do know is that one example of those texts is available as his book An Archaeology of Theory, a free pdf available from Argotist online.
And while I am not a musician, I also admire John Coltrane, and I would like to suggest that reading Archaeology listening to Trane’s album Giant Steps or some part of it will give people less familiar with Peter’s art the chance to get closer. I’m honored to have known Peter and think this is part of what he was sharing on wryting and of course elsewhere.


William Bain was born in the United States (Indianapolis, 1944).  He has lived and worked in Barcelona, Spain since the 1970s. Some of his small format visual artwork and written texts have been published online or on paper in Abstract|Ext, Barcelona Ink, On-Barcelona, Ferbero,, Red River Review, and Zone, among others.

Sheila E. Murphy : Symphonic Exercise

for Peter Ganick

Now occurs
this once

sunlight or rain,


breathed                 speed of mind encompassing
a holy quiet
restrained               and very
properly brought up,
far enough away
the ritual
loved as wanted.

Friendship equals
of shared zeal
at a vibration state
of closeness smoothly exercised.
not humor
but permission
to co-occupy the earth,
a privilege
unlikely and exact.

Music on the page
to look at each
now documented, framed, held
as savoring distinguishes
from all else
chosen feeling
word at a time,
a passage
made into another


I will always speak of Peter Ganick in the present tense. He never declared his plan but lived it: Create within each available moment. The artistic output Peter gave us is immense, spanning poetic, visual, and musical creation. Peter courageously seized each moment, taking up an implement and making. His practice inspired others to be similarly brave. Many who knew Peter well experienced his encouragement to discover and create, sharing structured ways forward, including how to begin. Today I am surrounded by Peter’s books and artwork. I hear his voice. I am honored and grateful that Peter shared his legacy with me. We are fortunate, all of us who knew Peter personally and through his work. Dear friend, how empty it is without the engine that is you. May you be peaceful, as you have generously given us your genius, your wisdom, and your strength.

Sheila E. Murphy
June 12, 2020

Sheila E. Murphy is an American poet who has been writing and publishing actively since 1978. Her book titled Reporting Live from You Know Where won the Hay(na)Ku Poetry Book Prize Competition from Meritage Press (U.S.A.) and xPress(ed) (Finland).  Also in 2018, Broken Sleep Books brought out the book As If To Tempt the Diatonic Marvel from the Ivory. Luna Bisonte Prods released Underscore in that same year, featuring a collaborative visual book by K.S. Ernst and Sheila E. Murphy. Murphy is the recipient of the Gertrude Stein Award for her book Letters to Unfinished J. (Green Integer Press, 2003). Murphy is known for working in forms including such as the ghazal, haibun, and pantoum in her individual writing. As an active collaborator, she has worked with Douglas Barbour on an extended poem called Continuations. Murphy’s visual work, both individual and collaborative, is shown in galleries and in private collections. Initially educated in instrumental and vocal music, Murphy is associated with music in poetry. She earns her living as an organizational consultant, professor, and researcher and holds the PhD degree. She has lived in Phoenix, Arizona throughout her adult life.

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