In his 1951 preface to Paterson, William Carlos Williams writes that the long poem “is also the search of the poet for his language”: in the long poem Williams found a form whose discursive capaciousness lends an ongoing quality to that search both in speech and on the page, a search whose desired object — a text, a kind of speech — is never completely bounded. We search for a certain kind of text, but Williams also seeks to draw upon the rushing, watery noise of the Passaic Falls, which he says “seemed to me to be a language which we were and are seeking.” The Falls in their ongoingness mimic the modern search for language as much as they also teach us something about how we are constituted by that language.
This intersection of place and language could be said to inform the work of poet (and surfer) Stephen Ratcliffe, whose ongoing project to document, frame, and reframe daily detail now occupies thousands of pages in print and online, from 2002’s Portraits & Repetition to 2011’s CLOUD / RIDGE and in three 1,000-page books — HUMAN / NATURE, Remarks on Color / Sound,and Temporality — available at Editions Eclipse, and whose work Jacket2 here highlights in critical appraisals, reviews, interviews, photographs, and recordings.
I write this introduction after ten years researching sound poetry, two years traveling in Europe, North America, and Australia, and three months of heightened requests for me to speak publicly from the position of a “sound poet” about my work and the work of other practitioners. I write enthusiastically, with awe and love for this work and for its creators.
Between 2009 and 2010, poets Srikanth Reddy and Dan Beachy-Quick published two collaborative chapbooks. The first, “Möbius Crowns,” was published by editor and bookmaker Andrew Rippeon for QUEUE books (a chapbook series adjunct to the journal P-QUEUE) out of Buffalo, New York. The second, “Canto,” was the first in The Offending Adam’s chapvelope series, edited by Andrew Wessels, and accompanied by a postcard and a microbroadside.