uninhabited_cover_Talonbooks_aug17Un/inhabited by Jordan Abel
Get your copy at the Launch Party or Abel’s performance at VA/BF
$24.95 CDN | Available at a discount to Members
Pre-order: [email protected]
Co-published by Project Space Press and Talonbooks

Award-winning Nisga’a poet Jordan Abel’s second collection of poetry, Un/inhabited, maps the terrain of the public domain to create a layered investigation of the interconnections between language and land.

Abel constructed the book’s source text by compiling 91 complete western novels found on the website Project Gutenberg, an online archive of public domain works. Using his word processor’s Ctrl-F function, he then searched the document in its totality for words that relate to the political and social aspects of land, territory and ownership. Each search query represents a study in context (How was this word deployed? What surrounded it? What is left over once that word is removed?) that accumulates toward a representation of the public domain as a discoverable and inhabitable body of land.

Featuring a text by independent curator Kathleen Ritter—the first piece of scholarship on Abel’s work—Un/inhabited reminds us of the power of language as material and invites us to reflect on what is present when we see nothing.


Un/inhabited is an artist book by Jordan Abel that features an Afterword by Tracy Stefanucci, an essay by Kathleen Ritter, cover artwork by Tania Willard and design by Tania Willard and Jaz Halloran.

Praise for Un/inhabited:

“Working with stories of colonization and settlement, Abel has used erasure, extraction and cartography to carve shifting word sculptures from the uniformed printed page and filled seeming neutral white space with haunting meaning. At once graphic art, anti-poetry, a trace history of reading, and sociological ground work, Un/inhabited is something entirely new that defies easy categorization or description. This is art working its hardest edge to build an understanding of how our present and past continue to shape and reshape each other.”
— Shane Rhodes

“Nothing–––––there is nothing in the universe that is nothing. It is a cold, hard word–––––an idea, a fantasy, more than anything. “Nothing” has been used to erase landscapes for settlement. It is a tool of evisceration that is always predicated on violence–––––Indian territory negated and then extracted by Indianized settlers. Jordan Abel’s Un/Inhabited rereads a collection of popular market books of old that project nothing onto the inhabited North American landscape. The stories he repurposes–––––much like many of the treaties–––––were too often written to psychologically prepare pioneers for the massive displacement of indigenous peoples that followed. He pokes holes into these frontier stories–––––revealing the sublimated horror in their comic gothic conventions. This isn’t conceptual writing so much as foundational writing. Defoundational. Unsettling. He graphically strip-mines texts–––––interrupts their ideology, and asks you to fill in–––––suture–––––the blanks. Rush into this necessary, (de)literary landscape.” — Gregory Betts


Jordan Abel’s participation in the fair is supported by Bandidas Taqueria through our Adopt an Artist program.