While I said I would write about nomadic poetry architectures, I got caught up reading some books I need to return to the library. One of them is Dan Beachy-Quick’s This Nest, Swift Passerine, a book-length meditation on love, sparrows, sight, orb spiders, language, self and other, in the transcendentalist tradition Beachy-Quick has made so particularly his own. It is also a thorough demonstration of poetic intertextuality as nesting. (In his previous collection, Mulberry, Beachy-Quick imagines writing poetry as a silkworm’s work, “the weaving back and forth, as the head moves almost unnoticeably left to right and right to left as one reads, of those leaves I had devoured, those pages I read.”) Into his own looping syntax, the poet weaves “Themes” from Charles C. Abbott, Martin Buber, Emily Dickinson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Meister Eckhart, Ronald Johnson, Edward Taylor, Henry David Thoreau, Leo Tolstoy, Dorothy Wordsworth, amongst others.
Each blank page a month Arctic this every January The sparrows minus zero In the leafless tree do not
David and I met for lunch in SoH0, near Ellie's gallery. Much of our conversation focussed on David's essay collection; there were enough works for two books, so which to leave out? David was never much interested in talking about collecting his essays; his focus was always on what he doing now, what he was doing next. That's partly why it took him so long to gather together the pieces in that book. But I was persistent and brought up the essay collection just about every time we met. After a while, we walked outside and wound our way, slowly, toward Houston, talking all the while. I asked David about his sky-writing poems.
Matvei Yankelevitch asked me to join Lev Rubinstein in a memorial tribute to Dmitri Prigov at the Bowery Poetry Club. Rubinstein's is a poetry of changing parts that ensnares the evanescent uncanniness of the everyday (in ways that bring to mind the seriality of both Reznikoff and Grenier). By means of rhythmically foregrounding a central device — the basic unit of the work is the index card — Rubinstein continuously re-makes actual for us a flickering now time that is both intimate and strange.
N. S., Nathalie Stephens, Nathanaël composes in English and French, sometimes separately, sometimes simultaneously, sometimes in the permeable ache between, amidst multiple voiced and embodied pronouns, and in the space of in-between, which she calls l’entre genre. As preposition, entre, can mean between or among, as prefix, it can denote the idea of reciprocity or of being in the middle of two things, as verb, to enter, to go into, to begin. As well, genre does not only signify a category of artistic composition or literature, but also a general kind or type. Biologically it also refers to genus; linguistically to gender. As such, Stephens enters this space of in-between-kind not to occupy what we may easily confuse at first as a binary (poetry/prose, English/French, female body/male body) but rather to explore the porosity between multiple genres, languages, bodies, voices. In the porosity, a dislocation; in the dislocation unease; in the unease a fruitful and unexpected altering.
In her work, Stephens troubles the idea of the singular mother tongue, singular body, singular place/home, singular desire. The tongue of her language is neither and both English and French, for her vocabulary may at times look like one but be syntactically the other, or sound like one but be the other, or behave like one but shadow the other.
Maybe the poets could come up with a better term than ‘whistle-blower?’ That’s what I recall Daniel Ellsberg asking.
It was the spring of 2005 in Walla Walla, Washington, when I had the luxury of a day’s conversations with Daniel Ellsberg, famed for releasing the Pentagon Papers in an effort to end the Vietnam War by revealing how high-level officials were misleading the public. Ellsberg was visiting Jules’s class and giving a lecture at Whitman College, where Jules was employed, and because Jules was employed, he was busy, and I was not so busy, and, thus… I discussed poetry with Ellsberg over green tea. He was an early publisher of Frank O’Hara’s at the Harvard Advocate, he recited lines of poetry from memory, and he urged me to read Robinson Jeffers.