Beyond the Aperture

Grain, Volume 50.3 Spring 2023 

Kloppenburg Hybrid Grain Contest Issue



Narcissus A, 3



In searching for a theme for our first Hybrid Grain issue, “Beyond the Aperture” from Cody Caetano’s poem “Bardo” leapt off the page. It speaks to things hidden and things revealed, the introspection and resolution in so many of the pieces. And the “A” in aperture mirrors Paul Dutton’s hybrid/visual work—the first letter of our written alphabet, morphing, expanding, dancing, folding in on itself.

All of this, and the fascinating winning entries in the Kloppenburg Hybrid Grain Contest. The writers use layering, disjunction, humour, lists, collage, visual poetry, essay—where, as in Ki’en Debicki’s piece, “Remembering: [is] stoking the flames of dreams.”

Thanks to the judges and all contributors in this issue. It’s a textual/visual experiment that we hope you enjoy!

Mari-Lou Rowley

Editor, Grain



OUR UNRULY SCIENCE  [Excerpt]     | Sneha Madhavan-Reese


the language of poetry has something to do

with the open mouth the tongue that jumps

up and down like a child on a shed roof calling

ha ha and who’s the dirty rascal now?

–  Anne Szumigalski, “Our Sullen Art”


if it seems like Greek that’s because it is

the letters that stand for concepts and constants

in scientific lingo like π for the ratio

of a circle’s circumference to its diameter

or ε _for emissivity the letters lend

an air of romance some say wouldn’t you

a whiff of grace to what might be called

rigid and uncreative some say that science

has no room for artistry but it’s true

the language of poetry has something to do


with mathematical beauty



Naracissus A, 9


BOY / BOG / BODY | Tessa Swackhammer

There are six of them on the sidewalk and they are walking right at me. My therapist would consider the use of ‘at’ rather than ‘toward’ a cognitive choice to see them as an aggravated threat rather than a gaggle of teenagers, too young to even know what to do with their pelvises they’re so eager to hump the air with. Crude, yeah, that’s the word.

I could cross, but then I’d be taking out a sign that says I lack any sense of spine at all, and what’s that story, about facing down a bear? You can’t run, or they’ll chase you? I keep my head down. Brass chain from one belt loop to another, dried blood at the corner of my mouth from my father’s fist—he won’t call me a ‘he’ but sure is ready to treat me like one.

 Narcissus A, 10






Then when you spoke it sounded like water.

Beneath the soil, mud and sand.


I called your leaving the brook ran quiet.

I called your leaving a neap tide with herons.


A haunting was a dream you had with your eyes open
just as the sky was paved with the light of stones.

The forest was a wall that painted itself.
The forest was a door that didn’t close.

Narcissus A, 8



THE AUTOMATON [Excerpt]|     Sarah Christina Brown

The automaton was fresh off a factory reset and desperate for a mother. She was a new breed of automaton, made for companionship. It took five years to perfect her. The manufacturers had struggled with the name—“Fembot” sounded pornographic. “Gynoid” sounded gynecological. “Cyborg” was a blank-wax-face of a word. In the end, they settled on “Automaton” after the old mechanical figurines who graced the courts of kings and the inside of clocks. There was something romantic, vintage, and vaguely French about the name. It performed best in the beta tests.




Narcissus A, Composite 4,5,6




Artist Statement: Paul Dutton

Narcissus A is a suite of thirteen visual poems beginning with roughly mirror-image copies of the letter made with a laser printer on standard stock and developed through a sequence of photocopy and hard-copy, real, manual, physical cut-and-paste operations carried out with more sheets of standard stock, a pair of scissors, and a good, old-fashioned hand-held waxer.


Photo Credit: Jesse Pajualalr