As part of of Jacket2’s publication of Barbara Guest’s 1995 LINEbreak interview, we are publishing two of Guest’s early poems, “Escape” and “The Inhabitants” (each available as a scan of the original typsescripts and as an html version). These poems were written around 1945, well before Guest’s first book, which was published in 1960. We thank Hadley Guest for sending us these previously unpublished poems. We are also publishing the final poem Guest reads on LINEbreak, “Multiplicity,” which had as its only previous publication The Iowa Review 26, no. 2 (Summer 1996). These three poems are published here with the permission of Hadley Guest. — Charles Bernstein
The materials published in this feature are led by my introduction to a symposium on the poetry and poetics of 1960. The introduction you'll read here is more or less just as I spoke it a few months ago at the Writers House in Philadelphia. Since then, Gordon Faylor and I have gathered somewhat revised versions of the presentations made that evening. We then solicited responses from various others and we are happy to present these also as part of our 1960 feature, along with several other images and documents. I have been obsessively tracking 1960 doings and writings — reading, watching (film and TV), researching, interviewing, cross-referencing, following apparently meaningless leads; some of these have been posted to my blog “1960.” Needless to say, then, I was delighted to have 1960-obsessed company for a night in December 2010 — and then, further, throughout the following weeks and months as I worked with the original presenters and added respondents. I wish to thank Gordon, who has been the super-precise editor of this elaborate feature and who is responsible for all ways in which the gathering looks good; insofar as it looks bad, suffers from biases and gaps, etc. — that's fully my doing.
A note on the media: The PennSound page devoted this symposium is the best place to go if you want links to segmented audio and a video recording of the entire proceeding. The Jacket2 pages featuring the final, revised text of each presentation — listed in the table of contents below — include links to audio and, where possible, to a segmented portion of the video. We have also created a page that enables anyone to use embedding code so that the video can be made available on web sites, blogs and social media sites.
A new annotated edition
Hannah Weiner’s The Book Of Revelations was composed in 1989 or shortly thereafter in a notebook given to the poet by her friend and artistic collaborator Barbara Rosenthal. This new virtual edition, assembled, annotated, and introduced by Marta L. Werner, offers a facsimile of the notebook’s pages, a diplomatic transcript of the work, and a searchable text transcript of the notebook, along with extensive notes and commentary.
A visually arresting, even iconic, document, The Book Of Revelations encourages speculation about the interplay of graphic and scriptural economies in twentieth-century poetry. Moreover, and perhaps more crucially, The Book Of Revelations bears witness to a moment in Weiner’s work when the “clair-style” we see at its apex in The Clairvoyant Journal reaches its outermost limits: while the economy, compression, and tendency towards ellipsis emblematic of Weiner’s earlier works persist in The Book Of Revelations, the dialectical tension inherent in those works is largely abandoned. At this juncture, vestiges of a former, more purely lyric style suddenly reappear, as if Weiner were seeking transient asylum in the old, incandescent melodies of works like The Code Poems while simultaneously reaching out towards a new “measure.” In The Book Of Revelations, the metrical experimentation that marks all of Weiner’s writings leads to an imagination of language’s ultimate latening and annihilation: “there’s nothing to write about.” In the strangely exilic space the notebook inhabits, we find Weiner experimenting with a form of glossolalia, a poetry heard at the moment of its enjambment with the outside. Here, writer and reader meet in their common experience of language as at once startlingly alien and profoundly intimate.
The primary materials of The Book Of Revelations are accompanied here in Jacket2 by several pieces of critical commentary: “The Landscape of Hannah Weiner’s Late Work: The Book Of Revelations,” a reading of the notebook’s stylistic features and recurring themes; “Notes on this Edition: The Book Of Revelations,” a textual introduction offering a description of the editorial methodology guiding the presentation of the work; and a number of appendices that detail Weiner’s use of misspelled, alternatively spelled, and invented words; neologisms; part-words and uncertain transcriptions; proper names; and literary and cultural allusions.
Note on the title: The unconventional capitalization of the word “Of” in Hannah Weiner’s The Book Of Revelations has been retained here. Although we cannot be certain that the capitalization is intentional, Weiner did type the title on the white label she then affixed to the notebook’s cover. The tension between the typed, all-caps title and the handwritten pages in which a capital rarely appears is provocative. — Marta L. Werner