As readers, writers, students, teachers, or scholars of poetry, many of us have 'first-encounter' stories — hearing Poet X read for the first time; copying neglected Caedmon LPs in the library basement; borrowing a thrice-dubbed cassette of the Black Box Magazine or New Wilderness Audiographics; exploring the personal collection of a generous friend, poet, or teacher.
Last June I sat looking at this “sampler” by Elizabeth Parker in the textile archives of the Victoria and Albert Museum. I put “sampler” in quotes because I do not think this piece really is one and neither do the curators and archivists. What is this object? What might it say toward a textile poetics? Similarly, the stitched works of Arthur Bispo do Rosário are called “outsider art” yet they were exhibited at the 2013 Venice Biennale.
I do not want to comment on the high art/craft divide or museum and art world ethics/politics—though textiles are often in the middle of those debates. And I have written about Parker’s sampler before.
[The following is yet another excerpt from the forthcoming Barbaric Vast & Wild: A Gathering of Outside & Subterranean Poetry from Origins to Present, edited with commentaries by myself & John Bloomberg-Rissman and published by Black Widow Press as the fifth volume of Poems for the Millennium. Earlier excerpts have been posted on Poems and Poetics over the last several years, referring to the work as “a mini-anthology in progress,” but the completed work will now appear as a 450 page assemblage to join the other volumes in the
Driving to your block, I slide in my father's cassette of old Hindi songs and I am humming in twilight to the legendary playback singer's baritone releasing those sounds in that language that makes me feel like I am home. In the back of my throat, I can taste my grandmother's translucent thin chappatis that as children we would hold up to the light, the dough so evenly rolled out by her hands that not one lump would show.
Sandra Ridley is the author of three books of poetry: Fallout (Hagios Press), Post-Apothecary (Pedlar Press), and most recently, The Counting House (BookThug). She has taught poetry at Carleton University and has mentored poets through Ottawa’s Salus and Artswell’s “Footprints to Recovery” program for people living with mental illness. Sandra has also facilitated poetry workshops for the City of Ottawa, Ottawa Public Library, and the Tree Reading series. She knows how to use a compass.
Q: Your work tends to favour the extended sequence, often utilizing extended lyric stretches, and avoiding individual, stand-alone poems. What is it about the sequence that appeals? Are all your poems in conversation with one another?