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God submits a grant application to the Canada Council


Purpose of the project: To create a world.

Detailed description: In this multi-disciplinary, cross-genre work, I intend to create a self-sustaining performative experience based on the geometry of the sphere. It will draw on my unique background in arts and theoretical mathematics, incorporating prose and poem with theatrical techniques.

God considers what to add.

She knows she wants her world to be

round, and breathing. Movement, too –

the whole thing should shimmer

and shift. She has a picture in her mind

of great indeterminate beasts

shuffling through some waving stuff.

Sounds, as well – booms

and crashes, sussurations.

Something that goes hiss-sss-ssss.

Can she manage smell? How would that

work? Some medium to float

triggers in, perhaps, and then

a tissue of receptors

to twinkle at cinnamon. Yeah,

she could come up with something.

The project will culminate in a performance lasting seven days. Given the potential audience interest, I feel confident the project can travel and be repeated in other venues.

Oh, geez, she’ll have to find

an audience somewhere. Need

to think of that.

Budget: Subsistence, twelve months at $1900. Materials, nothing. (She’ll work with what she’s got lying round out back.) Venue rental: $2,000. Miscellaneous: $200 Total $25,000. (Might as well ask for the max.)

God sends the application in

and waits. The jury process takes

eternity. She keeps noodling

on the concept, realizes

it’s going to take a whole lot longer

than she thought, to conjure

‘theoretical’ into ‘applied.’

How does she get everything to stick

on some slippery cerulean ball?

She’ll need to create some force

that grabs a hold. And then that bright idea

about receptors – they’re trickier by far

than she ever thought at first. What the hell

is she going to mount them in?


She half-decides to let the idea go.

She could do something simpler with a foam,

maybe. You’d get some nice effects

just swirling that around. Leave words

out of it, forget the ‘prose and poem.’


She’s forgotten where she put her notes

when the envelope appears.

The grant has been approved. “Oh, shit,”

she thinks. “Now they’re expecting it.”

She sighs, dispirited, then peers

at the amount she’s been awarded.

Sure they gave her what she asked for.

But how is she ever going to live on this

for fourteen billion years?


by Alice Major, from “Standard Candles”, University of Alberta Press

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