Erika Staiti lives in Oakland and comes back to New York, where she’s from, about twice a year.
The first thing I notice in the excerpt from The Undying Present is Staiti’s use of multiple and switching pronouns and the determined unnaming of characters. It has an effect of denuding the narrative, by generalizing the action, muting agency.
We readers are instructed that something else is happening, something structural, not personality-based, although the central action is driven by a narrator.
(1) Image & Melos: a Letter, 1960, to Robert Duncan [From New York City] September 27, 1960
... following with great interest your interchange with Kelly. On the basis of your first letter to reach here (only one I’ve seen, other 2 being described) I feel no real disagreement as to melos, etc., being other vehicles for manifestation of “floating world” (source) within the poem, tho if you define yourself as a poet of “word-magic” primarily, my own direction in these last years has probably been toward “image-magic”— yet it doesn’t seem to me that any of the “powers” are totally to be denied, nor can they where the poem is allowed to happen.
Thanks to Richard Swigg, PennSound is pleased to make available a recording of George Oppen reading poems and talking with Eric Homberger at the University of East Anglia, May 7, 1973. Swigg also provided us with this transcript.