Stutter, Chew, Stop

Three Mandible Modes in the Poetry of Jordan Scott


  • Eric Schmaltz Glendon Campus, York University


Scholar and artist Brandon LaBelle (2014) positions the mouth as an integral “contact zone where language performs as a powerful agent” that brings forth the voice to locate the vocalizing subject as an autonomous being within a network of human, posthuman, and nonhuman assemblages. It is a complex site wherein language is both produced and obscured by its many bodily modalities—stuttering, speaking, chewing, biting, stopping, and so on. Thus, the mouth is undeniably a vital apparatus for meaning-making. The mouth is prominently featured in the oeuvre of Canadian poet Jordan Scott, whose works present formidable case studies for investigating the significance of mouth-based meaning-making. Scott’s work engages the powers of mouthing and, in particular, presents readers with compelling contiguity between mouth and ecology. Pursuant of these topics, this article focuses on three of Scott’s poetic texts to examine the mouth as it manifests and is mobilized within his poetry, with a particular interest in how he places language under the pressure of external grammars to challenge the power dynamics of linguistic communication and the ways that environmental considerations and verbal expressivity shape one another.

Author Biography

Eric Schmaltz, Glendon Campus, York University

Eric Schmaltz holds a Ph.D. in English from York University. His research spans the fields of twentieth and twenty-first-century Canadian literatures, avant-gardism, small press publishing, sound studies, and poetry and poetics. He is co-editor (with Christopher Doody) of the critical edition I Want to Tell You Love by bill bissett and Milton Acorn (forthcoming, University of Calgary Press) and the author of two books, a forthcoming monograph on mid-twentieth-century Canadian avant-garde poetics and a book of poetry Surfaces (Invisible Publishing). His critical writings have also been published or are forthcoming in academic journals, including Jacket2, English Studies in Canada, Canadian Poetry, Canadian LiteratureForum and the edited collection, All the Feels / Tous les sens: Affect and Writing in Canada / Affect et écriture au Canada. He is a lecturer in English and Creative Writing at Brock University, York University (Glendon Campus), and Sheridan College.