Commentaries - May 2014

Heimrad Bäcker: Documentary poetry (an essay)

Afterword by Sabine Zelger: A past charged with now-time

Translated by Jacquelyn Deal and Patrick Greaney
German text follows the English

At the beginning of temporality and historicity, at the beginning of history, Cain is asked where his brother Abel is. He responds with a question: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Mythology reveals a substitution at the beginning of time and history: the Cainian language convention. A category of good conduct, being someone’s keeper, is used to conceal an action; in his denial, Cain clings to an ethical category and deploys it for something completely different.

Geomantic riposte: 'The Regina Monologues'

In poetry circles, Michael Barnholden is best known for his highly active involvement with the Kootenay School of Writing, an internationally recognized locus of experimental writing. Barnholden published many early KSW chapbooks under the imprint of Tsunami Editions, and with Andrew Klobucar, he is the co-editor of Writing Class: The Kootenay School of Writing Anthology. Based in Vancouver, BC, Barnholden has made and continues to make important contributions to foster and encourage innovative new writing, through his founding of a book review periodical called The Rain Review of Books in 2003, and more recently, as managing editor of West Coast Line and publisher of the exciting micropress LINEBooks.

Dahlen's psychoanalytic reading of 'A Reading'

In Natomas, on a day in 1983, Beverly Dahlen read one of the poems in her epic A Reading, and then, remarkably, offered a close psychoanalytic reading of the poem that lasted an hour and twenty minutes. She describes it as “a self-analysis of a piece of writing,” which she wrote first for herself but then felt willing to share the notes. “The framework for this is psychoanalytic. I'm assuming a kind of psychoanalytic stance toward what's going on.” The notes had been composed in 1981.

U+F+O+L+A+N+G+U+A+G+E

“Poetics as a Theory of Everything." Maria Damon and Ira Livingston.
“Poetics as a Theory of Everything,” cross-stitched by Maria Damon and quoting Ira Livingston. Damon made the piece to serve as the cover image for Livingston’s book, Poetics as a Theory of Everything, forthcoming, 2014. Image courtesy of Ira Livingston and Maria Damon.

One of the central unified field theories of quantum gravity is string theory or superstring theory, where spacetime is conceived of as an ambiguous ecology. In string theory, the known universe is thought to be part of a larger wilderness of universes, the multiverse, which is comprised of multiple and perhaps infinite dimensions of space and time that are created by collisions between subatomic, vibrating membranes of energy known as open and closed strings. The theory defines the evolution of space and matter from the connections between these vibrating membranes of energy. String theorists aim to reconcile quantum mechanics and relativity into a single description of physical reality that is often referred to in contemporary physics as a Theory of Everything.

Upon reading Christine Wertheim’s mUtter-bAbel (Counterpath Books, 2014), where Wertheim tells the “story of language and some bodies of the word made flesh in a child’s imagination” through visual poems often highlighting the letter “o” that sonically treat words as “vocal organs,” I thought about the open and closed strings in string theory and wondered if the author was—consciously or without intent—responding to the colliding, subatomic, vibrating membranes of energy that string theorists think create the multiple dimensions of the multiverse.

Robert Kelly: 'Statement 1968' from 'A Voice Full of Cities'

[The following will appear later this year in A Voice Full of Cities: The Collected Essays of Robert Kelly (Contra Mundum Press), edited by Pierre Joris & Peter Cockelbergh.  Originally published by John Martin’s Black Sparrow Press in 1968.]


STATEMENT