On 'Selected Days'

Spent matches in Bolinas. Photo by Jonathan Skinner.
Spent matches in Bolinas. Photo by Jonathan Skinner.

As a contribution to the occasion of Jacket2’s gathering of materials to celebrate the life & work of Stephen Ratcliffe, Robert Grenier proposed to ‘the Author Himself’ that the two of them might engage in a conversation addressing matters involved with (& otherwise concerning) his recently completed making of a (kind of) ‘selected poems’ (from the period) out of the six long ‘daily’ works (comprised of two triptychs, the first 3 of 474 pages, & the second 3 of 1,000 pages) begun in February 1998 & continuing into January 2011, to wit:

Portraits & Repetition, 2.9.98–5.28.99 (Sausalito, CA: The Post-Apollo Press, 2002)

REAL, 3.17.00–7.1.01 (Bolinas, CA: Avenue B, 2007)

CLOUD / RIDGE, 7.2.01–10.18.02 (Buffalo, NY: BlazeVOX [books], 2011)

HUMAN / NATURE, 10.19.02–7.14.05 [1]

Remarks on Color / Sound, 7.15.05–4.9.08

Temporality, 4.10.08–1.4.11 (Temporality continues, both as poems and photographs, on Ratcliffe’s blog)

Selected Days (forthcoming from Counterpath Press) itself consists of another progression of days/pages (made from a determination to take the last sequences of 15 poems from the first 3 works noted above + the last 30 sequences of poems from the second 3 works noted above, making a new sequence (& ‘time’) of 135 “DAYS” (pages)) — and it is the making of this ‘organization of materials’ (& related matters) which is spoken to, at some length (on the afternoon of Sunday, October 24, 2010) by the two of them, available here and here.

Duration’ is the heart of the matter — what is that (?), and how might that be addressed using Gertrude Stein’s distinction between “the time of the composition” & “the time in the composition” (in her 1926 lecture “Composition as Explanation”) (how are these ‘similar’ & how they are ‘different’) as a touchstone, as a means of engaging with Stephen Ratcliffe’s developing work …?

Herein ‘the Author Himself’ is provoked to provide his own account of …

Robert Grenier
Bolinas, California
October 29, 2010

Bob Grenier and Stephen Ratcliffe in Bolinas.
Robert Grenier and Stephen Ratcliffe in Bolinas.


1.  A reading/performance of the complete text of HUMAN / NATURE, in collaboration with five musicians (Dylan Bolles, Keith Evans, Michael Meyers, Edward Schocker, and Zachary Watkins) took place at UC Davis on June 6, 2008, and is available at PennSound.