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Publisher Description

The first work of ‘living poetry’ in the world, by the author of the bestselling book Eunoia

Internationally renowned poet Christian Bök has encoded a poem (called ‘Orpheus’) into the genome of a germ so that, in reply, the cell builds a protein that encodes yet another poem (called ‘Eurydice’). After having illustrated this idea in E. coli, Bök is planning to insert his poem into a deathless bacterium (D. radiodurans), thereby writing a text able to outlive every apocalypse, enduring till the Sun itself expires.

Book 1 of The Xenotext is an ‘infernal grimoire’ that introduces readers to the conceptual groundwork for this project. The book offers a primer in genetics, even as it revisits the pastoral heritage of poetry, updating the orphic idylls of Virgil for a new age of mythic danger – be it in the beauty of artful biogenesis, if not in the terror of global extinction.

‘The cellular “rules” that govern this extraordinary text allow Bök to create one of the most beautiful poems of our time – a poem in which the georgics of Virgil join forces with the double helix of Watson and Crick.’

– Marjorie Perloff

‘If Human reverence was slanted more toward Nature and less toward the exaltation of gods, our scriptures might have looked something like The Xenotext.’

– Peter Watts

‘Many artists seek to attain immortality through their art, but few would expect their work to outlast the human race and live on for billions of years. As Canadian poet Christian Bök has realized, it all comes down to the durability of your materials.’

The Guardian

Fiction & Literature
October 1
Coach House Books
Coach House Books Inc.

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