‘A Kama Sutra of Words: Some Thoughts on Pwoermds’ by Gary Barwin



Over the last few years, I’ve participated in Geof Huth’s International Pwoermd Writing Month. A pwoermd is a one-word poem—no title—the poem is its own title and text, as we are ourselves. Oneward and aptword.

The pwoermd ‘gh2oti’ is one of the favourite neopwoermds that I created last year. Aitch-two-oh found inside ghoti, George Bernard Shaw’s famous phonoglyph for ‘fish.’ We are both medium and message. Flow and floating.  Both water and fish. We are what carries us, what rivers and rivens us. Water we? Fishous circle eddyfying. Extremes of consciousness.

“Not seeing rivers is also another way of dying.”
– Etel Adnan

We hear what is inside words. We here. We word that in which we wade. Write makes rite. Or right. Alright.

Words are not what they seme. Or polyseme. Sometimes words are all seam. We are such words as stuff is made of. Not Bernie Madoff. We are stuffed with words as words are stuffed with us. We seme the seam. We make it sew. Between a won thing and I is another. Astreamic, I stream.

Every month, but especially International Pwoermd Writing Month, two words don’t make a write. Wonder word poems wonder where words wander. eyewish eyemay iwish eyewrite a journal of a thousand stars, first pwoermd eye sprite tonighght.



The sentries sleep on the lexical borders, sighghing their sighghs, the lighghts dimbed to an almost twilighght. Sighnlights turned awf. What is the border between word and not-word?

Ae? A? Ai?

Ay, when does a ‘mark’ become a ‘word’? What happens when we open the barmy adore of words and let the hors ou’?

What’s on the borders between?

Scientists have printed a functioning heart with an inkjet printer filled with heart cells. They print 10,000 sheets, each a cross-section of a heart. When stacked together, the heart cells bind and the whole begins to beat.

Stacking words. Letters. Sounds. Ideas. Beating.

Now what if some of those pages were not heart cross-sections, but, say, letters or words. Would the heart beat? Would it be something between a ‘book’ and a ‘heart’? How many letters or words could one insert and still have it be a heart? Half heart / half story? Half hearted lyric? Where would the border be?

How much can you disintegrate a word and still have it be a ‘word’? Still have it be anguage?


L&which: they’ve discovered a new word order on the border. Here in eyeyeland. It’s lighghtyears away. We here in the earlighght there thoughght. Ughgh! somemoon says. Ughgh! It is an inkdictment:


Wriiting/speeking: thot becomes thoughght. Becomes taut. Is taughght. Les Mots sans Frontiers. Words without borders. All incite with no out. All outsight with no in.


eyeyesighght / insighght / the mined


We’re game for game as long as we’re the game. Games like gametes reproduce. Join: zygotcha. Twisted blastocyster. Act. Beyond: the great dividing.



I can’t touch mitosis, when one becomes too. When the word reaches an eyediacritical mass (eye=mc2)—resuchitation—when there’s too such of a suchnessèthe word divides. Not sausages in a long chain of undifferentiated mouthmeat, but letterclusters like the (c)louding of galaxies, the brighght edges decided by our naming. What star at the border is too far from the others to belong? A gravitational longing. An ewt. A newt.

There’s a rush of (re)movement, time within matter, and we make these quanta of speech, of thought, a world of constellations, of topography, a taxonomy of being, of seeing. Ecstaseeing. An extreaming position. Andjoining. A joy(n)ing. A Kama Sutra of syllables, of tongues, vowel sounds, fricatives, plosives, and the consonantal others. A perceptual Kama Sutra, just Moebius and you, one surface surfacing, words and thought their insides their outs, reconfiguring and suggesturing like clouds, traffic, stories, skin, crowds, or humans. Making mouthtains out of molehillcules. Synthtactical like heavy water synonymphphs.

We make new or old words—synapsemes—through this collision and quantumbling entanglement, an anvil or an amble on the tongue or hypothalamus. Words, the giddy or mortal body of thought, or thought the translucent (g)host of the word, its trickster fingers poking into the bowling ball of the brain, words ’n’ thought or (p)arts of wors ’n’ ought (where spare becomes are) are nlessly knocked down strike that then reset at the end of the long (g)utter of meaning, for we—our thoughts, our minds and culture—like the third eye in Saroyan’s eyeye, are both there and not there, the same there where, it can be said, there is no there there but where, it can also be said, there is also always there there.


Gary Barwin is a writer, composer, multimedia artist, and educator and the author of 17 books of poetry and fiction. His work has been widely performed, broadcast, anthologized, exhibited, presented, and published nationally and internationally.

Barwin holds a PhD. in music composition, and is 2014-2015 Writer-in-Residence at Western University in London, Ontario. His latest book is Moon Baboon Canoe (Mansfield Press, 2014.) He lives in Hamilton, Ontario and at garybarwin.com.