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Paul Dutton (1943-       )

Paul Dutton (b. Toronto, 1943) is a writer and sound artist whose speech-based work plays at the borders of literature and music. His entire output can in fact be seen as an exploration of the varying degrees of musicality in language. With influences from diverse areas of several arts disciplines, and with allegiance only to the artistic exigency of the moment, his discipline-spanning creations are equally suited to literary, musical, and sound art settings. He is a riveting soloist and a chameleon collaborator, a technically inventive vocalist who extends the potential of human sounding and confidently treads the territory of free improvisation. His books of poetry and fiction and his recordings of solo and ensemble voice work have earned wide praise, and works of his in all those genres have appeared frequently in national and international anthologies and compilations.

     Dutton has been pushing the borders of literary expression since the late Sixties. After briefly exploring sound poetry in a solo context, he hooked up with bpNichol, Steve McCaffery, and Rafael Barreto-Rivera in 1970 to form the sound poetry performance group, The Four Horsemen, whose reputation spread swiftly throughout Canada and beyond. Appealing to audiences in literature, music, and theatre, the quartet acquired legendary status in the course of its eighteen-year lifespan, and its influence continues to be acknowledged by contemporary artists working in similar genres today. Dutton meanwhile continued his solo work in the field of sound poetry, establishing himself as a primary international exponent of the form. He also maintained an output of poetry for the page, accumulating credits in a multitude of magazines and journals (Quarry, Writing, Canadian Forum, and Rampike among them), and publishing collections of writing distinguished by its formal invention and psychologically probing content. Seeking new areas in which to explore his sonically expressive talents, Dutton joined forces in 1989 with the free improvisation group CCMC, staying with them through various personnel changes to its new millennium configuration as a trio comprising Dutton, Michael Snow, and John Oswald. His work with CCMC proceeds in tandem with his solo career in writing and performing. Since the late 1980s Dutton has also established himself as an accomplished essayist, publishing incisive commentary on the arts, with a special focus on intermedia and unorthodox genres, such as visual poetry and oral sound art.

     Paul Dutton has toured throughout Canada, Europe, South America and the USA, both as soloist and ensemble member, performing at literary, musical, and sound art events. His credits include appearances at the Munich New Music Festival, the Medellin International Festival of Poetry in Colombia, the Rotterdam International Poetry Festival, the Vancouver Jazz Festival, Centre International de PoÚsie Marseille, Bobeobi Sound Poetry Festival (Berlin), Downtown du Maurier Jazz Festival (Toronto), Festival Polyphonix (Paris and Quebec), and La BÅtie Festival de Gen¶ve. He has performed in every major city in Canada (and many minor ones) and remains in demand at national and international festivals, in reading series, and in schools at all levels.

     As a member of The Four Horsemen he has been included in: The Prose Tattoo (1983), and Horse d'Oeuvres (1975); and his own publications include Visionary Portraits (1991), Right Hemisphere, Left Ear (1979), The Book of Numbers (1979), spokesheards (with Sandra Braman) (1983) Aurealities (1991), and Partial Additives, (1994).