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:
The epigraph to Stephen Ratcliffe’s long poem Portraits & Repetition is a quotation from Gertrude Stein’s essay of the same title:
I began to wonder at at about this time just what one saw when one looked at anything really looked at anything. Did one see sound, and what was the relation between color and sound, did it make itself by description by a word that meant it or did it make itself by a word in itself.
In recent years, a number of artists and poets have developed the gesture of erasing a text and publishing the result of such erasures on the text. Jen Bervin, a poet and an artist in the United States, recently erased parts of The Niagara Book by W. D. Howells, Mark Twain, Nathaniel Shaler, and others, with tippex allowing some of the words of the original text to appear. In his last show at Galerie Laurent Godin in Paris in 2010, Claude Closky has shown pages of a novel over which each word had been crossed out with black pencil except the article “la” whenever it appeared, thus creating a succession of “la,” which read like a hummed tune.
The following is part essay, part proposition, part thinking in motion (provisional, unfinished, disruptive). It is a response to Patrick Durgin’s generous invitation in spring 2010 to address “somatics” in regards to recent writing practices and poetics. Through the following text I take excursions with various contemporaries. These excursions are not meant to be representative by any means (the following is not meant to be a definitive mapping of a field, manifesto, polemic, or ‘last word’) but the continuation of a discourse that has become visible to me in the past few years. All the propositions here are hopefully extendable.