Poetry can project reflections on our world and the complexity of the human condition in ways no other written format can; a direct line to the wanderings of the soul. Poetic verse can illuminate the mystical or spiritual sides to our existence often swept aside in our fast moving world. Words spelling out the beautiful impossibility of life on this green planet.
Disappear by Montreal poet Ian Ferrier — a composition with the band Pharmakon featuring Kris Mah on guitar and laptop, Doug Stein on drums, and in collaboration with media artist pk langshaw — is a beautiful portrait on the permanence and impermanence of life. An incredible mix of spoken-word performance poetry and contemporary dance, Disappear is a multidisciplinary feat of beauty from the heart of Montreal’s poetry scene. Disappear is a single on Pharmakon’s recently released album To Call Out in the Night.
“All the music is improvised and the lyrics are mixes on a previous poem,” explains Ferrier over coffee at his Plateau apartment. “The piece is about how life is completely non-permanent: we decide and believe that we exist, we have lives, friends and rules in society, but people can be here one day and gone the next.”
Beyond existential reflection, Ferrier builds on the artistic tradition of poets articulating struggles for freedom and against oppression in verse. Disappear points to the injustices in our world in beautiful subtle ways, speaking to the soul in different ways than banners at demonstrations.
“Disappear reflects on the fact that the core of all things that you hold on to can be taken away by circumstance, by the state, by your owe psyche,” reflects Ferrier on a cold winter afternoon. “In writing the poem I was also thinking about all those who disappeared in South America and all those who died in the war in Iraq, in Afghanistan — how so many peoples lives were stolen.”
Mixing melodic guitars, hypnotic percussion and beautiful vocals by singer Valerie Khayat, beyond music Disappear in video is lit up by a stream of beautiful lettered projections over a dancing duet directed by pk langshaw.
Disappear presents beautiful artistry from the poetic heart of one of Montreal’s most community-minded artists. Ferrier has long been a key organizer in the Montreal arts community for decades, consistently and tirelessly working to create contexts for independent artists in the city to flourish. He coordinates the monthly showcase event Wired on Words and Music at Casa del Popolo, which for the past decade has been a key stage for countless up-and-coming artists.
Ferrier ends our discussion with one last reflection on life and dance: “I consider all of our existence a dance, all of our history a dance, a dance against the immensity of what we don’t know and the fact that nothing in our world is permanence, in response all we can do is dance, intellectually, musically and with the world around us.”
For more information on Ian Ferrier and Pharmakon visit: pharmakonmtl.com.
Stefan Christoff is a Montreal writer, community organizer and musician who contributes to Art Threat. Find him at twitter.com/spirodon.