[Originally published in Burrowing In, Digging Out (1974) and The Choice (1977), both from David Meltzer’s Tree Books. See also the note at bottom of this posting & the essay on Drachler’s work by Christine Meilicke, which appeared as the posting on Poems and Poetics for April 19, 2017.]
As part of the Poetry Across Languages event organized by Nick Martinez Defina, Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach shared an excerpt from a series exploring language and the meaning of home and reflecting on her own Ukrainian heritage. Held at the Kelly Writers House on April 6, 2017, this event explored translation, language, and identity across borders.
A central premise of Amelia Dale’s work is that it is entirely unconcerned with the valence of the work itself. She makes a poem that is a thing before it is a poem, a thing that never wants to be a ‘poem,’ that nevertheless is or gains something when we call it a poem. Here I want to spend some time with Amelia Dale’s 2015 poem TRACTOSAUR, published by Troll Thread in 2015.
A Word doc, for example (the origin of her PDF poems), a file type with a fairly rudimentary and utilitarian purpose, becomes for Dale a playful space in which the poem can extend itself beyond its limits. The format — an electronic file of white rectangular frames/pages with a basic sans serif font and a wonderfully gnarly-looking illustration rendered in MS Paint or similar — gives us a thing that wants to decimate our concept of the poem, of even the illustrated poem.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: Rose Drachler’s virtual disappearance in death is one of those inevitable but disturbing realities that confronts a number of heroic & gifted artists. Her presence in her final years, as Christine Meilicke testifies, was important for many of us — not only the Jewish poets among us, as stressed by Meilicke, but many others as well. John Ashbery wrote of her: “Rose Drachler’s poems are strong and sweet, firm and quirky, but this oddness soon comes to be perceived by the reader as a new canon.”
The poet thalia (miniscule-t) was born in Katerini, Greece, in 1952, migrating to Australia in 1954. As a coeditor of 9.2.5., a worker’s magazine by and for the workers, and a founding member of Australia’s Poet’s Union, thalia’s work is informed closely and in a lived way by radical politics and radical feminism. Her most sustained lifelong project to date has been her visual works (begun 1972) with Shorthand, culminating, magisterially, in an enormous 2015 volume titled A Loose Thread that collects these works, complete with 190 or so plates (twenty-one are rendered in colour as centerfold, as in many Collective Effort Press books) and an introduction by Π.O.