Articles

Desiring visual texts

A collage and embroidery dialogue

Rachel Blau DuPlessis, “Wishes on the Wish Tree.” 11 x 14 inches, 2012.

After swift exchanges at a University of Pennsylvania conference on April 13–14, 2012, Maria Damon, with a practice of weaving and cross-stitch embroidery, and Rachel Blau DuPlessis, with a practice of collage and collage poems, decided to ask each other some questions about this work, their desires to do it and its rationale, given the full-scale scholarly careers that they both have.

Book-length broadside

Bob Grenier's 'CAMBRIDGE M'ASS'

Photograph by Geof Huth.

Breadcrumbs would violate library rules, so I tore up notebook paper to leave my trail. I was in the Poetry Collection in the library of the University at Buffalo reading CAMBRIDGE M’ASS, a book-length poetry broadside, 49 by 40 ¾ inches, with about 275 poems by Robert Grenier scattered across it.[1]

A Williams soundscript

Listening to ‘The Sea-Elephant’

Williams has remained a foundational poet for me for decades: the exuberance, variety, and transparency of his formal experimentation; the surprising eloquence amid his sometimes bumptious democratic stylistic affirmations; the complexity of the political-formal negotiations throughout Paterson;[1] his unflagging honesty — there are many ways his writing remains of the greatest interest. However, during the decades I’ve been reading and rereading his work, there have always been the lesser moments in poems I value very highly, the not particularly notable pieces, and even some downright clunkers like “Tract”: “I will teach you my townspeople / how to conduct a funeral —”[2] My intuition is that the problems are quite closely bound up with the strengths.

Letter to David Shapiro, 6/29/65

Joe Ceravolo in Washington Square Park, April 1964. Photo by Rosemary Ceravolo.

June 29, 1965

Dear David,

I was so glad to get your letter. We never did meet at Weequahic Park for lunch but they’ll be other times for that. I used to go to the park every day and write. Each day I’d write a few lines of what I thought was a complete poem. Then I put them all together and called it The Green Lake Is Awake.

On 'Wild Flowers Out of Gas'

Joe Ceravolo’s poems are like the old lady who helps a boy scout across the busy street. They are also like the truck driver who stops his truck to let them cross safely, toots his horn and waves. They are also like the nickel in the boy scout’s pocket that was not bent by being run over by the truck.


Previously published in
Kulchur 5, no. 18 (Summer 1965): 105.