Georges Perec

A lot of things happened

A review of Lisa Rogal's 'Morning Ritual'

On Lisa Rogal's 'Morning Ritual'
Photo of Lisa Rogal (right) courtesy of greetingsreadings.org.

The title of Morning Ritual superimposes the divine and the mundane: one thinks simultaneously of a prayer to greet the sunrise and of brushing one’s teeth. In this book, however, Rogal is firmly rooted in the quotidian: it’s toothbrushing that she’s interested in, and she resists the urge to give daily “rituals” like this more than their usual significance. What she shows us by doing so is that their usual significance, though minor, is nonetheless an essential part of the tapestry of our experience and worth exploring.

James Schuyler's specimen days

James Schuyler at work. Photo by Christopher Felver.

In this essay, I will try to account for the importance of “the day” in Schuyler’s poetry, but I will come at my subject in a slightly roundabout way. I claim Schuyler as my precedent. In a poem published soon after Schuyler’s death, Clark Coolidge notes that “[i]f Jimmy starts with one thing it’s always the / one in the middle.”[1] So it makes a certain sense for me to begin in the middle of the middle, with Schuyler’s journal entry for August 15, 1970:

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