A friend who knows about these things once told me about the existence of a German word, Fernweh, which she translates to mean: feeling homesick for places you've never been. Reverso renders it as wanderlust, but my friend explains the word conveys not so much a lustful craving for travel as a sense of sadness and loss in staying put. A closer approximation might be distance-sickness, filled with all the ache, yearning, and nostalgia that homesickness might evoke, only for far-off places rather than the familiar.
When realism isn’t real, where is a writer to go? Meaning, the sentence is a construction which feels at least as habitable as the bus which carries a poet to an unfamiliar town, and the couch upon which the poet sleeps later that night. When realism isn’t enough, isn’t authenticated or represents a fractional or purely outward series of events, poets turn to the body of the sentence upon which to recline, repose, deconstruct and reject any sort of frame which insists upon the “real” being limited to finite perceptions. A sentence may break, with the force of bodily gesture, something more fluid. When I think of the poet’s novel I think of an oblique truthfulness. The choreography of Pina Bausch comes to mind, as an example of art which echoes the interior and bodily aspects of the real. What is the difference between realism and the real?
My final commentary focuses on writers reading the work of other writers. I was interested in recordings that did more than simply pay homage or celebrate an influence. The experience of listening to the following recordings was often one of hearing some aspect of the text come loose through the reader's voice instead of hearing the text being inscribed into a fixed state.
In a 1998 recording at the Kelly Writers House, Rachel Blau DuPless reads an excerpt from T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land during a celebration of the Poems for the Millenium anthologies. DuPlessis explains: "The Waste Land isn't in this anthology. [. . .] Because of the price the Eliot estate charges." Instead of reprinting The Waste Land, Poems for the Millenium: Volume One includes a brief commentary contextualizing the poem's relationship to a range of modernist literary movements. DuPlessis continues: "I also wanted to note that there are always people missing whenever there are writers. There are people who aren't writing or can't write or don't write. And sometimes they get absorbed into the writers. And this is a section of The Waste Land that was basically spoken by Eliot's maid, named Ellen Kellend." By reading this passage from the poem, DuPlessis foregrounds the material conditions under which literature is created (or not created) and disseminated (or not disseminated).