Commentaries

A Sulfur Anthology: Clayton Eshleman, ed.

Clayton Eshleman started his first magazine, Caterpillar, in New York City in the fall of 1967 — the very same moment I moved from Europe to the US.

Imagined cartographies: Madeleine Campbell in Saint Lucia

Brain Coral photographed by Madeleine Campbell
Brain Coral photographed by Madeleine Campbell

Some waves originate deep in space; others arrive with the wind, cresting the ocean's surface. At low tide, a traveler might walk a long stretch of shore, shifting boundary between land and sea. She might lift spiraled shell to ear, listen for a sound that began in a neighboring galaxy, named after an explorer intent on sailing the globe. She might hear history. “It might sound like this: in the salt chuckle of rocks / with their sea pools, there was the sound /like a rumour without any echo / of History, really beginning.” Such does Derek Walcott locate history's source in a tidepool made of words. Writing in Poetic Intention, Édouard Glissant uses the same materials of construction: “I build my language out of rocks, I write, indeed, with the feeling of some scribe. . . .” In the tides between history and language: poetry, an island that breaks away from the main.

Some waves originate deep in space; others arrive with the wind, cresting the ocean's surface. At low tide, a traveler might walk a long stretch of shore, shifting boundary between land and sea. She might lift spiraled shell to ear, listen for a sound that began in a neighboring galaxy, named after an explorer intent on sailing the globe.

She might hear history.

It might sound like this:

in the salt chuckle of rocks

with their sea pools, there was the sound

like a rumour without any echo

Antin's 'Notes for an Ultimate Prosody' Revisited

Most discussions of prosody begin and end with metrics, but the contribution of meter to the sound structure of all poetry that was neither sung nor intended for musical accompaniment, when it has been at all specific, has been trivial. Yet because most writers on prosody would probably dispute this, and since some recent poets have worked out sound structures on the basis of implicit defects in metrical theory, it's probably worth taking a look at the metrical background.  Almost all writers on metrics agree that meter is a compositional constraint. In this theory a particular meter is a pattern of distribution of some phonological feature over stretches of language.  A particularly simple example is iso-syllabic verse.

[NOTE, FOR THE RECORD. Originally published in George Quasha’s magazine Stony Brook (number one, December 1968), Antin’s essay on prosody was accompanied by the following note from the editor: “Mr. Antin wrote these Notes as a paper, originally, which was not amended for publication. I persuaded him to publish it, though he is not happy with the presentation, because I believe it raises crucial questions. It is coherent if not thorough, and it may succeed in bringing about some relevant discussion, hopefully in future issues of STONY BROOK.

Patricia Spears Jones on Close Listening

photo: Rachel Eliza Griffiths

Patricia Spears Jones talks with Charles Bernstein about her new selected poems, the influence of the blues and the pentecostal church (and sonnets) on her poems, her conversation with popular songs,  her sense of communities and ideal readers, the performance of her work, her "contrarian" broadsides on politics and culture, and her persistent commitment to beauty.

MP3 (38:18): MP3

Borges off Pound

In December of 1921, a 22-year-old Jorge Luis Borges published “Ultraísmo” in the Argentine journal Nosotros. The editors wrote that his short article was the initial entry in a series of studies about the avant-gardes,[1] recognizing perhaps that the moment of the ultraísta movement had already passed (a few months later, the key journal Ultra ceased publication). While the avant-garde principles of ultraísmo would continue to inform the work of many poets both Spanish and Latin American, by 1921 the movement qua movement was drawing still. But for the literary establishment, understanding ultraísmo was just beginning, and thus Borges’s essay was an attempt to assert the new literary ethic through accounting, a manifesto in reverse.