Flesh ekes ink (PoemTalk #133)

Divya Victor, 'W Is for Walt Whitman's Soul'

From left: Mytili Jaganathan, Angela Carr, Anna Strong Safford

LISTEN TO THE SHOW

Angela Carr, Anna Strong Safford, and Mytili Jaganathan joined Al Filreis to discuss a poem published in Divya Victor’s book Kith (2017; BookThug/Book*hug). The last section of Kith includes a long alphabetical poem called “Foreign Terms.” The “W” poem in this sequence is “W Is for Walt Whitman’s Soul,” and that is the work we ponder in this episode of PoemTalk. At the autumn 2017 Book*hug launch, Divya chose the read this poem; a video is available.

Three pebbles

Or, the minimal materialisms of late modernism

Photo by Sandro Arcais, via Wikimedia Commons.

What is a pebble? Is it an object or a thing? A weapon or a tool? Is it naïve or is it sentimental? Is it a token of the real, or a fragment of ideology? Can you do more than skip it or hurl it or mark a grave with it? What is the pebble to poetry? Of what might the poem make it speak?

On Kaveh Akbar's 'Calling a Wolf a Wolf'

Photo of Kaveh Akbar (right) by Hieu Minh Nguyen.

In A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man James Joyce writes, “When the soul of a man is born in this country there are nets flung at it to hold it back from flight. You talk to me of nationality, language, religion. I shall try to fly by those nets.”[1] Kaveh Akbar’s Calling a Wolf a Wolf offers various artist portraits of its own, exploring this ground with candor and lyricism, traversing time, culture, and language to create a poetic topography that is both familiar and unexpected. 

Inadequacy of skin and feather

Jaimie Gusman on 'Anyjar'

Note: Jaimie Gusman’s new collection Anyjar navigates the proliferating forms of body, memory, and self, through the lens of the Anyjar, which refers to a vessel that refuses any stable shape.

No, MY Ariel

An engagement with Sina Queyras's 'My Ariel'

In the first poem of Sina Queyras’s poetry collection My Ariel, an I-speaker testifies that “A love procedure set me going like a big fat lie.” This line directly overwrites one of Plath’s most famous lines — “Love set you going like a fat gold watch” — often quoted to portray Sylvia’s personal experience of new motherhood on the occasion of her daughter Frieda’s birth.

February 5 [2018]

Remembering Marthe Reed

Editorial note: We were saddened to learn of Marthe Reed’s passing last spring, and in the weeks following her death, Jacket2 editors reached out to Linda Russo, who with Marthe is coeditor of the recent volume Counter-Desecration: A Glossary for Writing Within the Anthropocene

Editorial note: We were saddened to learn of Marthe Reed’s passing last spring, and in the weeks following her death, Jacket2 editors reached out to Linda Russo, who with Marthe is coeditor of the recent volume Counter-Desecration: A Glossary for Writing Within the Anthropocene. Linda responded by sharing with us excerpts from a panel that convened at the October 2018 &Now conference in Notre Dame, Indiana, devoted to Marthe’s work. A note on Marthe’s work and those panel excerpts appear below.

New sentimentalism

A review of Julie Carr's 'Someone Shot My Book'

When viewed as acts of intimacy, reading and writing put “one on the edge of an outside of whatever one figures oneself already to be” — a claim that prompts the poet-scholar Julie Carr to conclude, in the final line of Someone Shot My Book (2018), that “all writing is epistolary.” All poems, then, are as if written in the manner of Emily Dickinson, “on the paper she used to wrap flowers in, or sent in letters.” All poems are addressed to a dear. Indeed, for Carr, “writing is almost always grounded in intimacy, and when it’s not, it begins to lose energy.”

When viewed as acts of intimacy, reading and writing put “one on the edge of an outside of whatever one figures oneself already to be” — a claim that prompts the poet-scholar Julie Carr to conclude, in the final line of Someone Shot My Book (2018), that “all writing is epistolary.” All poems, then, are as if written in the manner of Emily Dickinson, “on the paper she used to wrap flowers in, or sent in letters.” All poems are addressed to a dear. Indeed, for Carr, “writing is almost always grounded in intimacy, and when it’s not, it begins to lose energy.”[1]

Examples of

On Barrett Watten's questions

Photo of Barrett Watten (right) by Jonathan Stalling.

It is no accident that the title of Barrett Watten’s second twenty-first-century critical book analyzing Language writing as an ongoing “presence” within the avant-garde continuum and literary history echoes Roman Jakobson’s 1977 collection of essays, Questions de poetique. Just as Jakobson’s essays interrogate the precarious position of poetry in an age saturated with analog media (e.g., how poetry is and is not different from the newspaper, the radio, television, etc.), so too Watten’s essays address the position of poetry in relationship to other modes of innovative cultural production (avant-garde art and techno music in particular).

It is no accident that the title of Barrett Watten’s second twenty-first-century critical book analyzing Language writing as an ongoing “presence” within the avant-garde continuum and literary history echoes Roman Jakobson’s 1977 collection of essays, Questions de poetique.[1] Just as Jakobson’s essays interrogate the precarious position of poetry in an age saturated with analog media (e.g., how poetry is and is not different from the newspaper, the radio, television, etc.), so too Watten’s essays address the position of poetry in relationship to other modes of in

Stein's propagandistic potential

A note on Gertrude Stein's 'La langue française' and 'Patrie'

Portrait of Gertrude Stein with American flag by Carl Van Vechten, January 4, 1935, from the Van Vechten Collection at the Library of Congress, via Wikimedia Commons.

In compliance with the request Stein had received from Masson via de Rochemont, “La langue française” is “non political” insofar as it makes no direct mention of any overtly political issues, events, or specific persons. In approaching her requested subject — “the importance or prestige of the French language” — Stein in “La langue française”applies a vocabulary that has a long history in the autodiscourse of the French language (clarity, truth, profundity, etc.). 

Editorial note: This piece is intended to be a companion to Logan Esdale’s contribution to this dossier, which can be found here.

Suffering into shape

A review of 'Atonement' by Vaughan Rapatahana

Atonement is the latest collection of poems by the New Zealand Māori poet Vaughan Rapatahana. It follows his 2011 collection, Home, Away, Elsewhere (Proverse, Hong Kong), and like its two predecessors mirrors his peripatetic lifestyle. Rapatahana has worked in Nauru, Brunei Darussalam, the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong, the UAE, and Australia, and had a varied career before becoming a writer: he worked as a secondary teacher, a special education adviser, a house painter, and a storeman.