The Improbable: Vol. 2, No. 1 — Lingual MusicA new issue edited by Alex Balgiu and Chloé Gourvennec

the improbable, 09/18/23

Details from The Improbable, left: from N.H. Pritchard’s HOOM; right: also from HOOM and from Rosaire Appel’s Seesong.

For this issue of The Improbable, I invited Alex Balgiu, coeditor of the superb Women in Concrete Poetry: 1959-79 (Primary Information, 2020) and the magical mind behind @designingwriting to use The Improbable as a space of exploration and play, however he might imagine it. As a publisher, I found great delight in offering him twelve blank pages, which he — with coeditor Chloé Gourvennec — transformed into a magnificent assemblage of artists and writers conversing across space and time.

Thank you so much, Alex and Chloé, thank you to the artists for lending their work, thank you to the bookstores and organizations listed below who are helping to disseminate this issue for free, and thank you to Jonathan Hope whose generous contribution made this issue possible.

More here about what The Improbable is; excerpts here from past issues (click “the improbable” subheader); and scroll down below to find out how and where to get a free copy.

—Lisa Pearson, siglio publisher


in this issue

Annea Lockwood, “Malaman” (1980)
bpNichol, “Drum” (1967)
Helen Cammock, excerpts from Bass Notes and SiteLines (2022)
Jerome Rothenberg & Richard Johnnny John, excerpts from Songs from the Society of the Mystic Animals (1982)
Lily Greenham, “Lingual Music” (1977)
Min Oh, excerpts from Absentee, Absentee, Invitee (2020)
N.H. Pritchard, Hoom (1970)
Rosaire Appel, excerpts from Seesongs (2012)
Ulises Carrión, “The Orchestra” (1977)



“Lingual Music,” Lily Greenham’s essay published in Michael Gibbs’ landmark 1977 Kontextsound “text in sound” compilation offers a radiant insight into the artist and poet’s polyphonic practice rooted in her transformative approach to sound and language. Simultaneously, the piece raises crucial questions about music and meaning, body and technology, calling us to feel and reflect on the potential of language-based performative work today.

In this issue of The Improbable, “Lingual Music” becomes a catalyst and a manifesto resounding with key artistic, poetical and musical propositions from past and present, whose intersecting preoccupations investigate and open new experimental audiofields. We collected these works by Annea Lockwood, bpNichol, Helen Cammock, Jerome Rothenberg and Richard Johnny John, Min Oh, N.H. Pritchard, Rosaire Appel and Ulises Carrión, and placed them in conversation with one another, listening to their sounding relations under the light of Greenham’s essay.

Envisioned as a constellation of dialoguing documents, the layout of this issue echoes the structure of the second issue of Alison Knowles and Annea Lockwood’s iconic Womens Work magazine, with its beautiful fold-up poster that invites into non-linear and multi-directional reading and manipulation.

We wish you a happy and energizing reading — and, in Lily Greenham’s words, we call you to: Enjoy the knowledge of experience!

—Alex Balgiu and Chloé Gourvennec


find a free copy in the U.S.

Poetic Research Bureau, Los Angeles
Point Reyes Books, Point Reyes
San Francisco Center for the Book, SF

new york city
192 Books
Aeon Bookstore
Center for Art, Research and Alliances (CARA)
Center for Book Arts
Topos Bookstore

new york state
A.Therien, Cairo

Familiar Trees, Great Barrington
Research & Development Store MASS Moca, North Adams

portland, oregon
Passages Bookshop
Monograph Bookwerks

chapel hill, north carolina
The Concern Newsstand

philadelphia, pennsylvania
Brickbat Books

marfa, texas
Marfa Book Co.

milwaukee, wisconsin
Woodland Pattern Book Center

seattle, washington
Open Books: A Poem Emporium

washington, dc
Lost City Bookstore


find a free copy abroad
Studio Bibliografico Marini in Rome, Italy
Center for Narrative Practice, Pristina, Kosovo



of course, a copy is included with any siglio book order


send a self-addressed stamped 9×12 envelope with $1.60 postage to siglio, po box 234, south egremont, ma 01258, and I’ll send you one (copies will ship once a month—your patience is appreciated).


* Alex Balgiu is an educator, designerwriter and bookgatherer about the age of a Heidelberg GTO 52. Concerned with designing spaces for collective creativity and experimenting with various modes of transmission, you can catch him reading, playing and disseminating in Lausanne (Écal), Paris (Doc & Pca), Kyoto (Villa Kujoyama) or the bookshop next door. Or you can pick up Women in Concrete Poetry: 1959-79, a collection of outstanding concrete poems by women edited together with Mónica de la Torre (Primary Information, 2020). Do you love books too much? Join Bibliomania, an ongoing series of editorial puppet shows created with Olivier Lebrun, touring around the world. Currently learning from the forest and the river.

Chloé Gourvennec is an Occitan graphic artist and troubadour based in Amsterdam. Now studying at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie, she is interested in regional language matters and the voicing of inked paper. She recently took part in the Provisional School for Nothing in Saboïa [PT], and joined the Northern Drawing School [SE] in the constant quest for cross-disciplinary learning. ⅓ member of Ok books publishing project, founded with Leyre Leon Alvarez and Elsa Baslé. Alavetz?

see also

✼ elsewhere:

“Not an object or a text but a name, a spirit: Jean Brown … The name ‘Jean Brown’ itself was, for me, the conduit of Howe’s “mystic, documentary telepathy.” When her name appeared on a citation, I sensed that this object or book had been carefully selected, cared for, considered, held.”


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