Lisa Robertson

The day pours out space (PoemTalk #65)

Lisa Robertson, 'The Weather' ('Monday')

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In October of 2000, Lisa Robertson presented along with Steve McCaffrey at the seventeenth episode of PhillyTalks. She read from a then-new work, The Weather, just a few months before the book’s publication by New Star in Vancouver (2001). Here are the segments from that 2000 reading: ”Monday” (2:10): MP3; “Tuesday” (7:06): MP3; “Wednesday” (2:14): MP3; “Thursday” (6:38): MP3; “Friday” (9:16): MP3; “Saturday” (4:02): MP3.  The book-length project, organized as such by days of a/the/every week, was in part stimulated by the poet-researcher’s experience during a six-month Judith E. Wilson Visiting Fellowship at Cambridge University: as a non-local, she found herself listening to late-night weather and shipping reports on the British radio, discerning there and elsewhere a specifically localized language that seemed abstract and was yet radically precise.<--break->

Habitable sentences of the poet's novel

Books by Peter Waterhouse & Lyn Hejinian

Lyn Hejinan writes in The Book of A Thousand Eyes:

“The bed is made of sentences which present themselves as what they are
Some soft, some hardly logical, some broken off
Sentences granting freedom to memories and sights” [1]

If a bed is made of sentences, then we take rest, converse with the unconscious, locate freedom, the intimate, night, dark, gestational silence, the forming of images and ideas — all within what can be built from an assortment of varied sentences.  Sentences become our increment, lumber, and leisure.

Lisa Robertson writes in her recent book, Nilling, “The most temporary membranes serve as shelter.”[2]

What is it about the sentence that encourages one to stretch out? 

Wooden Houses: Wallace and Spitin and Daranur and me

A medieval image of Geometry. Looks like the translator (she) to me...

I started thinking about Rita Copeland's book in remembering my experience in 2009 with Chus Pato and a few younger translators and poets in Galicia, translating poems out of English and into Galician, on Facebook! First, some Wallace Stevens—poet Oriana Méndez had felt on reading WS in English that the Spanish translations she had earlier read were inadequate—and as there were none in Galician, we made a couple. Then I turned to “Wooden Houses” by Lisa Robertson, which originally appeared in April 2005 in Jacket 27, and later was included in Lisa Robertson’s Magenta Soul Whip. Just wanting to share Robertson's work in Galician. Chus Pato helped me immensely in my task.

“Wooden Houses” was written in Vancouver, Canada (forests, rain, a country of wooden houses), and became “Casas de madeira” (forests, rain, a country of stone houses), thus transferring not just the poem but the very materiality and vernacular of “wooden house.”

Sounding on the scent

The Perfume Recordist scents herself into sounding and sounds herself in scenting.

The Perfume Recordist is an encounter between Lisa Robertson and Stacy Doris across countries (Canada, USA, France), across senses and perceptions, across technological devices, across kitchen tables.  

The Perfume Recordist field records, manifests, performs.

The Perfume Recordist is not interested in the fallacies of origins and the intrinsic essence of things but in the layered odour of momentous existence, in the whiff of an ear, in the noisy bouquet of a city’s undergarments.

On the other side of the tracks (PoemTalk #44)

Fred Wah, "Race, to go"

from left: Lisa Robertson, Jeff Derksen, Bob Perelman, Fred Wah

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Lisa Robertson, Jeff Derksen, and Bob Perelman joined Al Filreis to talk about a poem in a sixteen-poem series by Fred Wah going under the title “Discount Me In.” That series and several others were brought together in a book called Is a Door.  Our poem, “Race, to go,” is the first — a proem of sorts — in the “Discount Me In” group, and we have occasion during our discussion to talk about the several valences of discounting. I don't count. The census misses me because I fall between the cracks in racial categories. The neo-liberal moment has cheapened me. Both positively and negatively racially charged language around food, freely punned and intensely oral, turns casual by-talk into rebarbative backhand (creating an effect distinctly pleasurable) and brings into the poem the entire story of official Canadian multiculturalism.

On the other side of the tracks (PoemTalk #44)

Fred Wah, 'Race, to go'

from left: Lisa Robertson, Jeff Derksen, Bob Perelman, Fred Wah

LISTEN TO THE SHOW

Lisa Robertson, Jeff Derksen, and Bob Perelman joined Al Filreis to talk about a poem in a sixteen-poem series by Fred Wah going under the title “Discount Me In.” That series and several others were brought together in a book called Is a Door. Our poem, “Race, to go,” is the first — a proem of sorts — in the “Discount Me In” group, and we have occasion during our discussion to talk about the several valences of discounting. I don't count. The census misses me because I fall between the cracks in racial categories. The neo-liberal moment has cheapened me. Both positively and negatively racially charged language around food, freely punned and intensely oral, turns casual by-talk into rebarbative backhand (creating an effect distinctly pleasurable) and brings into the poem the entire story of official Canadian multiculturalism.

Hearing spaces

Ambience and audience

image by Noah Saterstrom
Image by Noah Saterstrom

I’m always interested in the physical, digital, and in-between spaces audio recordings document and inhabit. This playlist samples some combinations of various recording environments, paying a bit of attention to often overlooked aspects such as tape hiss and telephone distortion, as well as considering sonic contexts like the classroom and direct-to-digital readings.

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