Two-Storey Tale

Two-Storey Tale
Published: Sep 22, 2018
A galloping meditation by a word performer on split levels, Tories and Whigs, houses and boats, layered layers, tops as bottoms, shapes of ship state, the getting of gout — and other notions not atypical of a habitat upside itself. • Plus, the author answers the Wild Culture Scribblers' Questionnaire.


This is a story, a double-layered story, a story with two levels, a double-layered story with two levels, a story that does indeed have two levels, this one, this story, this double-layered, two-levelled story — a two-storeyed story, I guess you could say — and the first level is this that you are reading. You are reading the first layered, levelled storey of this double-layered, two-levelled story, this one, this story that you're reading — if you're even reading it, if it's even a story. You are reading the first storey of this double-layered, split-level story. This. You are reading this split-level storey, this little suburban story, and this reading you are layering with levels split and this two-storeyed layer is a story you are reading with two levels and this is the first level you are reading — the first level, which is just as well. It’s just a well left in front — or is it behind? — that suburban split-level house you are storying with these two layers stuck, this story stuck that should be stuck, this Tory tucked into two layers. It’s Whigging him out of his little suburban split-level house that’s about to be eaten up; it’s not going to be there for long. This little split-layered house is about to be levelled. This story is about to be levelled, this house this Tory’s Whigged out about’s about to be out, about to be a story about to be a house, about to go about, to abut a house about a bout, the bout the house is about, to a bout, to a boat. This Tory has a boathouse. It's a house about a boat, a split-level house about a two-layered double-storeyed house that has a Tory in it. There's a Tory in the house that's about the boat. The boat's about the house and it's so nice to have a house about the man. The Tory is a man and it ist gut ist gott in him, he is a man about a house that's in a story. He's about the house; he's about the boat; he's a boat the house is about. He's the captain of his own household and he holds his house. He's the captain of the ship of state. This Tory is the house the ship is built on. He's in shipshape, this captain of the story in the house is what he ships his shape, he keeps the shape in ship-state, he's the captain of his own fate, and his fate's his house, his little split-level suburban — yes, suburban little ship. He's a little ship, a little captain of his own split-ship state of his true grit. He is a gritty little Tory. It’s a nitty little house, a nitty-gritty story house, a ship of a house, a boat state in his split-state ship-level two-grounded double-layered level of a two-by-four built house in the suburban ship, ’cause it's so nice to have a ship about the state he is the captain of his fate and of his hate, he is the householder heist das haus this Tory of a Whig that grits his teeth and holds his house. He tried his level best, his double-layered level best, his split-storeyed double best, level-layered hut in the butt of the state in the super urban home, his happy little superb an’ split-level home upon the waters where it rocks the ship of state that's run a double-layered super-levelled ground-floor plan, the ship of state aground upon the double-layered level of the two-floor plan, a ban upon the double-levelled, two-ship state. The Tory gritting Whig has gout, has got his gout und gott is out upon the two-storey plan of his third floor in that little suburban split-level house in the boat of state the ship-house is lost on who has got the key to the boat-shaped ship-house he states his cause as lost in this Whig-headed Grit whose Tory is a lead one, the lead story in today’s paper, how the split-level house is a house divided and a house did not divide the great ship of state, the state we’re in, the house is quite divided. This is a story about not a Tory but a Whiggy little flit, a Gritty little Whig, a household word, a boathouse in shippy shape, a houseboat in shapey ship. This is a story about a house shape in shippy boat, a two-levelled, double-storeyed, shape-shipped house in the superb an’ little household that’s split into two, and he’s the captain of it with his shippy state, and he is in this two-levelled double-layered, bubble-shaped boat that’s a story. It’s his story. It’s his Tory-tainted tale of how the ship became a house divided against itself. It was a house, it was a ship, it was a state to be in, and he was in a state. He was a captain of his own ship of state and he ran the show from top to bottom, till he bottomed out and sank his ship, his house, his boat, his storeyed houseboat, storied boathouse, shaped, shipped, split, levelled, and sunk.


[Author’s Note: The text of “Two-Storey Tale” was first obscured as the overtyped content (with slightly different wording from here) of the ninth poem in the series 'The Plastic Typewriter', created in 1977 and published in 1993 (London: Writers Forum; Toronto: Underwhich Editions). This is the first publication of the legible “Two-Storey Tale”, slightly revised from the text extracted from “The Plastic Typewriter, 9” in 2014 by Steve Venright, using an arcane process known only to him, to whom “Two-Storey Tale” is gratefully and fondly dedicated. A reproduction of the original page from The Plastic Typewriter appears below.]

The Plastic Typewriter, 9




Paul Dutton fills out

1  What is your first memory and what does it tell you about your life at that time and your life at this time?

I have a sense of lying in my crib. I was very small then, I’m a lot bigger now, and I’m still trying to figure out what the fuck’s going on.

Can you name a handful of artists in your field, or other fields, who have influenced you — who come to mind immediately?

Laurence Sterne, Dylan Thomas, E. E. Cummings, bpNichol, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Joseph Conrad, Samuel Beckett, James Joyce, Piet Mondriaan, Vincent van Gogh, Ornette Coleman, Bob Cobbing, Lester Bowie, Sammy Price, Alain Robbe-Grillet, Claude Simon.

Where did you grow up, and did that place and your experience of it help form your sense about place and the environment in general?

Toronto. Sure.

If you were going away on a very long journey and you could only take four books — one poetry, one fiction, one non-fiction, one literary criticism — what would they be?

Shake the Kaleidoscope: A New Anthology of Modern Poetry, Ulysses, The Concise Columbia Encyclopedia, and I don’t read enough books of literary criticism to name one, but if there’s a study of Sterne, Joyce, and Beckett, that would be my choice.

5  What was your most keen interest between the ages of 10 and 12?


At what point did you discover your ability with poetry?

Second year university.

Do you have an ‘engine’ that drives your artistic practice, and if so, can you comment on it?

Exploring levels of consciousness and the concept of time. I remain fascinated with ambiguity, and find the mind and time the most ambiguous of all subjects.

If you were to meet a person who seriously wants to do work in your field — someone who admires and resonates with the type of work you do, and they clearly have real talent — and they asked you for some general advice, what would that be?

Read, read, read. Feel, feel, feel. Think, think, think. Write, write, write.

Do you have a current question or preoccupation that you could share with us?

Is there life after death, and what is it’s nature?

10  What does the term ‘wild culture’ mean to you?

A liberated imagination, unrestrained by convention in form and content.

11  If you would like to ask yourself a final question, what would it be?

Sorry,nothing springs to mind.



PAUL DUTTON, poet, novelist, essayist, and oral sound artist is known for his dynamic literary and musical performances. He was a member of the Four Horsemen poetry performance quartet (1970–1988), and is a member of the free-improvisation quartet CCMC. Author of several books and recordings, he has toured solo and in ensemble internationally. His latest book is Sonosyntactics: Selected and New Poetry (WLUP, 2015).



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