Maggie Nelson

Written in water (PoemTalk #138)

Maggie Nelson, 'Bluets'

From left: Jennifer Firestone, Adrienne Raphel, and Julia Bloch.

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Al Filreis gathered with Adrienne Raphel, Jennifer Firestone, and Julia Bloch to talk about Maggie Nelson’s Bluets.  This book of 240 numbered prose-poem propositions was published by Wave Books in 2009.  The group focuses on eleven sections, those numbered 222 through 232; these appear on pages 89 to 93 in the Wave edition. Maggie Nelson’s PennSound page includes several recordings of readings in which she performs this work. The recording we play at the start of this episode is from a reading she gave at Boise State University in Idaho on April 26, 2013. 

Segmented audio from performances of Maggie Nelson's 'Bluets'

Thanks to the efforts of PennSound staff editor Luisa Healey, we are now able to make available segmented audio recordings of the numbered sections (propositions) of Bluets as performaed by Maggie Nelson at two readings.

Thanks to the efforts of PennSound staff editor Luisa Healey, we are now able to make available segmented audio recordings of the numbered sections (propositions) of Bluets as performaed by Maggie Nelson at two readings.

I. from LA-Lit #21, March 11, 2007:

  • #52. (1:11): MP3
  • #53. (0:26): MP3
  • #54. (1:17): MP3
  • #55. (0:19): MP3
  • #56. (0:10): MP3
  • #57. (0:30): MP3
  • #58. (0:11): MP3
  • #59. (1:14): MP3

A slowing 2: Gestures of attention

What can language open when given space? Poetry invites pause, the pause of music, of introspection, of spreading sensitivity. Maggie Nelson reports, in The Art of Cruelty, that John Cage proposed this “exceedingly difficult” advice: “The most, the best, we can do, we / believe (wanting to give evidence of / love), is to get out of the way, leave / space around whomever or whatever it is” (268).  What is exceedingly difficult is necessary and important.

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