A review in turns of Eleni Stecopoulos's 'Armies of Compassion'

Armies of Compassion

Armies of Compassion

Eleni Stecopoulos

Palm Press 2010, 108 pages, $15, ISBN 9780984309900

Strophe

Elizabeth Williamson: Throughout Armies of Compassion, Eleni Stecopoulos dances with this premise: that our bodies can act in concert in ways that both attend to and reject a “national past” (69) and its re/production of nationalistic violence. Stecopoulos’s compromised but acutely aware body becomes our guide in tracing the threads of this violence, attuning us to the vibrations made by plucking taught, dried skin; vibrations that resonate across the gaps between us and our memory. Human borders ring against the borders between countries; forced to acknowledge the provisionality of the former, the patient (in the ward, of war, of history) grows accustomed to crossing the latter.[1

Armies of Compassion begins with a seemingly simple story, the story of the patient who goes to see a doctor, a doctor who attends to the body by bringing it into contact with various diagnostic instruments: “He gave me a sheet of paper on which emotions were typed in bubble font” (16). But the work moves almost instantly to improvised healing rituals, dreaming, obsession, and other modes of reimagining how we might notice, let alone care for, bodies in crisis. The book leaps sideways in order to anatomize as well as archaeologize the action of listening in relation to such potential for care, before landing on the terrain of body as theater in the poems “Kinesiology” and “Autoimmunity” — each formally a series of poetic clusters akin to a longer poem or cycle interrupted by breath. Stecopoulos here evokes the various ways in which sound plays on our nerves, or as you mentioned to me at the start of our reading the book together, david: to be autoimmune is to tune out everything which should be resonating in you.

Antistrophe

david wolach: What a gorgeously tight, complex, and ludic book of interwoven poetic arguments, Armies of Compassion! In a first scene, as Stecopoulos is crossing the border of the US into Canada to “detoxify” her body made ill, already our understanding of “human” and “national” borders is problematized. By her evoking through jagged, terse, lineated, and prose-like forms the ecstatic hazards of “embodiment,” I am drawn immediately to the phrase staging ground, which in its dominant mode refers to the militarized brutalizing of bodies, a referent made particularly clear in the work of David Buuck. In Stecopoulos’s work, the phrase is investigated and inverted, maybe even reclaimed, in some ways not dissimilar from Buuck’s site-specific textual performances (pre-enactments). Armies of Compassion opens us to a kind of staging ground, though one that serves as that possible and not yet (at least widely) extant place for the healing of bodies.[2] And perhaps because of this, and perhaps because the theater of the body is staged with such care and vulnerability throughout the book, when I hear you refer to “the patient” I think of the word’s verb form, “patience.” Stecopoulos performs deliberate patience as patient, performs a kind of insecurity and unbridling of bodily and psychic borders — as staging ground, one might say, of her condition and our appositional history.

Strophe

Williamson: Speaking to that history (in critique, in whisper, in witness and doubt), prosody —particularly in relation to place (to concrete and historical echo) — plays such a central role in this book, both as the poem and in the poem: “As a conductor becomes the intelligent orchestration of resonating forces, more witness or exponential than director” (19). Stecopoulos’s work as researcher into myriad medical histories is thoroughly enmeshed with classical histories, including healing rituals and rituals of embodiment — indeed many prosodic rituals — that provide an alternative to Western clinical paradigms. Through these resonating forces — sounds made by and for other bodies — a counter-narrative, or perhaps an incantation for obscured affects to awaken within us, seems to be gathering.

When we begin to pay attention to those obscured affects, we realize how lovingly intentionalized the breath of space and the pause of line are in Armies of Compassion. The line’s break becomes vista, and something is constantly registering at the skin, in the bones. This book routinely, yet in such varied ways, produces intimate scenes of listening, training a microphone on processes of speech in social space.

Antistrophe

wolach: Where you, Elizabeth, write about Stecopoulos’s focus on and use of “sound,” I want to reply with “organized sound,” or “reorganized sound” — to evoke not just the intensity of poetic form at work, this uniquely phoned prosody as itself healing and connective ritual here, but what I read as the ethos of radical organizing of the poems. This is to suggest that perhaps militant listening and the radical reorganizing of sound are not precisely “theatrical” but might consist, for Stecopoulos, in “a poetics of healing.” Healing is not of individual bodies alone but of constellations of bodies, of the planet that is interdependent with our bodies, itself a living organ in need of organelles that nourish it. Researching our conditional and provisional histories — making use of logos — becomes crucial. Yet it must be put into service by something other than itself. Healing thus involves organization, and if radical intervention, radical reorganization of (what we take to be) our senses (hence of sense).

In prosody, in sound’s vocabularies upon a body, its systems of touch and gesture, there is the shock of care that can perhaps heal or treat — and does so deeply treat (us) when organized as in Armies of Compassion. This body, “my” body, as Western medical professions like to say, wracked by an autoimmune system working overtime without overtime pay, is, as Stecopoulos has noted elsewhere, “sociopathic,” sickened by society, or the common disease with only uncommon symptomology, one of many various and visible manifestations of living under:

Blanched capital
embodiment continuous war
made possible by
opportunistic infection (40)

I should confess that I am — this so-called body is — like Stecopoulos’s in Armies of Compassion, compromised by “opportunistic infection,” by the persistent condition of “continuous war.” And weakened now, disabled by definition, this body is pushed into living in the “invalid dark,” “immune” to all including itself (70). But what autoimmunity might be, beyond merely the consequence of genetic/biological mechanism, gets called disquietingly into question; we’re led to ask what and/or who, in addition to the cellular body, is susceptible to opportunity, what opportunities we might run into or facilitate beyond each other’s communicable and congenital diseases were we not immune to some of them. We’re also led at the same time to ask whether there is something nourishing about that “invalid dark,” whether it is precisely in that dark — those othering spaces — that we might find one another, that we might be treated, and if so, whether getting there is a matter of being with and for one another. By carefully tracing back the term’s usages and offering up the possibility that to be open to “opportunistic infection” and to be present with it might provide a sort of nourishment, Stecopoulos — particularly in “Autoimmunity” — turns “immunity” on its Western, contemporary head. 

Strophe

Williamson: The suffering archived in Armies of Compassion is inescapable, yet the names are uncertain and the “I” is always on the verge of being disassembled, even when “I was the carrier I was the narrator” (45). The body ventriloquizes itself — laughter in/as pathos. Artaud, perhaps centrally, is one of the voices driving us throughout, but sometimes the world gets in his way.[3] Hearing this, Stecopoulos allows for rituals of healing to be caricatured, not just felt, performed, and celebrated — and so there is nothing romanticized about healing or ritual, terms that in the West are so often turned into springboards for capital’s mass-marketing schemes, manufactured fads which prey on desperation and cultural appropriations. Here the play is serious and the details matter. To paraphrase playwright Susan Parenti, the world is sick.[4]

Antistrophe

wolach: Dissolving then reassembling the “I.” Deromanticized rubrics and anti-rubrics of healing. The necrotic dance of laughter amidst rubble. This work, it occurs to me, shares much with Raul Zurita’s and with other lush “narrative” and “lyrical” forms that invert expectation of what lyric, politic, witness, and line might come to do as social combinatorial offsets, indeed as social-political archive, as you emphasize here.[5] And I love that you quote the line from page 45: “I was the carrier I was the narrator.” Note the doubling here, to echo your honing in on Stecopoulos’s expert use of Artaud (and to echo Artaud). Note the shadowlife that being a “carrier” has. Here, and also elsewhere in the book, carrying gets quasi-equated to narrating, narrating thus to pathology as well as disablement. The doubling of “carrying” when coupled with narrative gets me to ask whether “I” (reader, wreader, shorn body) am the carrier of “opportunistic infection” or the carrier of metaphor? Am I, and can I not help but be, both at once? Is to make metaphor here, to narrate and counter-narrate the semantic joints of fitness in a fitness-obsessed capitalist culture, to be and become increasingly disabled? Metaphor, from the Greek metaphore, literally transliterates into “to carry across or over, to move across.” I am both moved, indeed transported, and often provocatively sickened by these lines that double, stand in, refract; I am susceptible to both the harmonic spectrum of the prosody and to the narrative made from these prosodic units, their targets of critique. Armies of Compassion gives itself over to this work, and so turns pages into acoustic chambers for a unique riff on the theater of cruelty, awakening us from the theater of cruelty that has continually inscribed and communized the first into being. We’re reminded of these years of Bush onward of recurring partial declamations that at once sing, argue, and question the very borders that get crossed, where, Stecopoulos tells us, “Nation’s a form of muscle testing,” and where “muscle testing” is, at least clinically, the EMG test: in which electrodes are struck throughout your body and you are repeatedly commanded to “flex” such that your response completes the circuit and you are shocked into confessing your weakness, hence your embodiment (90). Because where Bush’s flight-suit Air Force cameo is theatrical, Stecopoulos’s (body)work, not just at the level of the line but the prosodic breath-as-unit, becomes uniquely sung radical organizing conversation (to use a phrase from my own background in labor organizing) or the living theater of poetry. A “shunt” (to borrow again from David Buuck) that we either open or shut ourselves to, that opens and shuts us, rearranging the sensible and insensible landscape; that we trade and that trades us or that we hoard to make of the body a rainy day fund, its stockpile a surplus for brokerage, so that one hope for com-munity contra immunity might be to enact some of the potential evoked by Stecopoulos’s conditional statement that “Artaud’s theater of emotional athleticism would exhaust our remote control into utter sympathy” (22).

Strophe

Williamson: But what exactly are the mechanisms of the theater Stecopoulos is inviting us into? This is Artaud’s theater, and Euripides’s — “Even flesh and blood’s theatrical,” as Stecopoulos reminds us in “Bakkhai.” This is certainly a theater of war, of empire. But the poetry does not stop there — in the book’s final pages, Stecopoulos shows us war’s staging as well as scaffolding, all the stories and accidental deaths that come before (and after) “the command to build” up this ground of corpses (86). Thus one of the voices from the dark who early on in the book admits, “I never understood theater until I chose strangers to stand in for me,” eventually moves diachronically through layers of landscape, not just crossing borders but digging down into the crust of the earth to feel the vibrations that started the mess we’re in, and further down, the energies of significance that sing underneath it (25). It may be true that “There has never been theater in America,” just as America has sought to absolve itself by forgetting those energies, that history (also a present condition) of colonialism and the redrawing of borders — but American politics, perhaps more so than any other politics, constructs for us a world in which “all the days [become] theatrical” (37, 47, 34). 

Antistrophe

wolach: Evoking the classic image of the deus ex machina, Stecopoulos writes that “the mystery has always been rigged; that the god descends on creaking pulleys in no way undermines the apparition” (24). But if the apparition is not undermined, the rigging too remains mysterious. Both the stage and the ground can possess us, possess our languages, Stecopoulos seems to imply and certainly enacts via the poems themselves. Sites of contestation and distraction, the built environment of the stage and the ground we lay our ear to and that we traverse, are also (in another context with different apparitions) poetic. Here they bookend border’s and body’s very provisionality (as you aptly put it in your opening paragraphs) as terms exposing, if you will, the rigging of the whole affair. The stage or the ground help make visible, for instance, the conditions under which provisionality can breathe life into bodies once bordered, stage and ground bordered now perhaps by rituals of remembrance and historical aporia, an attunement to absence, that which has disappeared from record, of those whose suffering has no (official) language perhaps but rest, pause, gaps in the language, an ante-language. The concreteness of ritualized sites of violence, whether violent in a ludic and — to use Artaud’s phrase denoting the work the theater (and in Armies of Compassion, other bodywork) could otherwise be doing — “philosophical” sense or, conversely, state-sponsored, tyrannical, and born of strategic designs on power and expropriation, these become entangled with the semipermeability and so provisionality of knowing the (post)human and subjected body. Bodies, i.e., “might exist” and likely don’t if they are not useful and/or are nonnormative (25).

The entanglement of these apparently separate borders gets us considering Thom Donovan’s question regarding “what the poem can do,” not simply what the poem is. Donovan is of course playing, after Deleuze, on Spinoza’s critical proposition that “we do not yet know what the body can do,” and via this coupling makes visible for us the dance between bodily, national, and poetic borders. The entanglement of borders in Armies of Compassion gets us to consider Foucault’s tracing of the institutional(ized) body (and its poems and all the rest) made “docile.” Foucault’s archeology investigates a reality we are too familiar with, wherein institutions of power have increasingly turned Spinoza’s ethical and aesthetic consideration into a thoroughly contemporary and oppressive science of surveilling, breaking down, individuating, cataloguing, and ultimately containing bodies (and their poems and all the rest) as part of the neocolonial capitalist enterprise — making Donovan’s reformulation, and the complicating moves in/of Armies of Compassion, so urgently important.[6

The proposition in Armies of Compassion that these entwined borders, while often assumed tout court by a dominant cultural ideology, are not only provisional but potentially de dicto, fiat if socially constructed and so gravely real in their ringing, sets the condition for — stages our conditions of — a persistent linguistic doubling throughout the book, a repeating thesis/antithesis coupling of seemingly known but actually assumed, and here utterly in question, sets of terms. Political body and (post)human body, border and boarder, agency and agency, antibody and anti-body, theater and theatrical, immune and commune — whether implicit or explicit, each is sounded against the other, creating a kind of prosodic and semantic dialectical reverb and metaphony where what emerges is a rhetorical collapse of strict definition rather than a binary.

Strophe

Williamson: Armies of Compassion zeroes in on the ethical dilemma of a body in transit, in flight, the body that is both (post)human and profoundly political. That body is not ephemeral. In one such instance of investigating, as you put it, david, the shadowlife of our words, Stecopoulos writes of a “womb soldered to muscle” (70) — where “soldered” stands just to one side of “soldiered” but, perhaps more importantly, derives from the Latin solidare, “to make solid.” Such a body understands its complicity in the sacrifice of other bodies, and the poetry of this body is not afraid to address the language of militarism — as both an acknowledgement of the pervasiveness of empire’s tropes and as a way of forcing that language to reveal its own contradictions.

one wants to be treated, not saved
to be made unfit for the mission

to stop performing strategy where one lacks the guts (67)

As patients, we can no more be saved than we can be made fit. But so many bodies have been actively shut off from others, have been bordered and policed so as to be cut off from audibility, let alone community. The radical enjambment here and the sudden oncoming silence create a scene of alert: everything that should be offstage is happening on, and armies of extras are making their exits and entrances across our tenuous terrain. 

Antistrophe

wolach: Yet we notice that the body in Armies of Compassion conversely testifies to being organized and organizing itself to be in communities, to be open to reciprocal care in the face of seemingly impossible odds that care will ever come.[7] When least expected, even in the most scorched environments, the possibility of care, when in the hands of vulnerability, persists. Armies of extras turn into those with whom one is reciprocally and intimately careful; hence the scene of borders, the site of the body, is not necessarily one of expropriative violence, territorialization, and violation, or need not be; and the stage and its chambered walls aren’t necessarily always constricting and nationalized, but are places for/of therapia, inscribing upon us that mark where rituals of healing have occurred and might occur again.

By the relative absence in the book of concretized images or definitions of what gets normatively ascribed as “community,” we sense a sustained meditation on reciprocity, on, perhaps, communis in waiting, a kind of preparatory action of a body that is vulnerable, that has its own — here sung — incantations towards community. As we witness (and hear) the body’s movement across (often) contested ground, “immunity” is carefully reimagined (resounded). This meditation emerges in part through a deeply studied etymological tracing, and is layered atop, to the side of, and underneath a condition that is at once local to the narrator’s body and global. The condition of crisis, the condition of being immune to hearing crisis, so to speak, emerges in multiple ways, not least via a subtle play on “trade” and “commerce” and US “trading partners.” And so too trade thus becomes metaphor and linguistic site of excavation: “Between possession and commerce a body might exist” (25). The concern for prosody’s function turns on a concern about markets trading in bodies in ways that exclude and expropriate other bodies and other forms of commerce — the giving and receiving of desire, of care, of story and song, of acknowledging and finding ways to meet mutual need. Local symptom is always, it seems, traced, tentatively, to global (geopolitical, historical, ritual) conditions. It is at this relation between the potential for the (re)sounding body to get in the way of market madness yet be swept up by it and fall into debt, to interfere with a market’s signal yet be sickened by it, that Stecopoulos, in a beautiful and necessary further connection, allows for problems of embodiment and illness/disability to be treated alongside categories of identity. In “Autoimmunity” and periodically afterwards, the gendered body, the racialized body, the expropriated reproductive body, the “unfit” body of Artaud’s as well as others’ incantation, is housed, policed, hunted, and haunted not just by US policy and cultural norms, but also by the modern Greek state of Stecopoulos’s heritage, whose increasingly conservative government, its hyper-capitalist nationalist forces (and armed forces), are perhaps matched only by the organization — the prosodic cul de sac — of its popular resistance.

Strophe

Williamson: We might say of Armies of Compassion, then, that its pages’ surfaces are perhaps both “stage” and “ground” for a searing prosody and kinetic counter-narrative (a therapeutic turn of rhetoric) that destabilize the forces of its — our own — disablement. This is a place not a space to use a line of kari edwards’s that you have often referred to, a place that opens itself to the present through the past and future pasts, and is sickened in its care for us.[8] So how does poetry intervene in our collective sense of place? “In any fundamentalist country,” Stecopoulos writes, echoing the powerful Duncan epigraph at the beginning of Armies of Compassion, “it’s strategic to encourage the dance” (62). The juxtaposition of Duncan’s and Stecopoulos’s imaginative play on the music under war formation reminds us that words like “fundamentalism” point inside our borders as often as they point outside them. We may be momentarily unsettled by the idea that our dancing could be the result of someone else’s strategic encouragement, but if we are careful readers, we might also remember that Stecopoulos is inviting us to retake (or to give up, i.e., impassively unhouse) the ground, to reimagine what it might mean, and what it might take, to act together, in concert — to make that act a dance rather than a phalanx wearing the cloak of artfulness.

Antistrophe

wolach: Armies of Compassion dances in the face of what it hears — the book’s very title evokes this. It hears the terrible stealth of the drones above, the monotonous whir of the drones below; it hears the operations of a State that has turned already-occupied ground into staging ground for more wars on bodies; yet Armies of Compassion herein performs “escape” not from occupation or territorialization, but as a poetic action of slippage into livability, at times joyfully, within often or otherwise unlivable borders, doing so as transformative dance, as you suggest. Armies of Compassion reminds us of our own potential to “escape” here, à la the later Foucault’s noting life’s uncanny way of constantly escaping administered systems (our incessant management) despite the terrifyingly thorough individuating circumstances. Stecopoulos’s work thus reminds us, as Foucault does, of escape’s root definition: to leave your captor behind holding only your cape.[9] Poetry — this poetry — is that cape the captor is left with. What gets staged, in that movement on/of the page, recorded, then played back, is a crippling regime whose theater, as you suggest, is evermore “theatrical” insofar as its tekne is, within official borders, the near-total corporate mystery play of civil oppression of a polity that is nonetheless constantly still living, and living beyond the suppression of that polity’s sociality by way of distraction and mollification, “lifestyle ethics.” The geopolitical financing of the present is the staging ground for a theater in which that corporate mystery play doubles as its own dress(age) rehearsal for war, and ultimately a new branding of colonialization. The counter-theater in/of Armies of Compassion, or its “theater” contra imperialistic rhetorical demonstrations of “theatricality,” is strange and absolutely crucial — as crucial as our need, amidst so much reckless freedom talk, euphemism, and sequestered torture, for the idea that care ought be received as well as taken. It is evident that we need, more than ever, an inoculation to the proliferation of so many — cf. “Homeland Security” — agencies that secure us from one another (34, 92).

If Armies of Compassion is at once a lyrical critique of geopolitical surplus drag upon bodies, and in part (and only in part) a gorgeously reimagined theater of cruelty, then Stecopoulos’s understanding of therapia has very much to with the redistribution of, and philosophical violence performed upon, the senses — of which we may realize upon feeling this book out that there are more than the scientized five. The therapeutic part of this poetic work is necessarily collaborative bodywork, then, and is, Stecopoulos implies, not curative so much as careful, healing insofar as it undoes us in an enactment of life’s leaking into the alleys without us as readers, as social creatures, getting to actually run or turn away from the felt reality of modern police states and the shock and awe of neoliberal capitalism. The action of slippage here is that of opening us to some of all this occulted life buried under mediated image-reality, schema-seizure; we become undone in our having sensed — if for mere moments — beyond “our goals / deranged” (80). In such moments we are given over to the kairological, where time opens and we can breathe, no longer waiting for “the cure.” We can then attend to, stripped of recourse to any catharsis, scenes of desire’s scarring:

Brother and sister
stand on the roof watching
the house burn out
of curiosity,
a scab
around the pretense of their lives (87)

Strophe

Williamson: Speaking of the scab or the so-called wound: if, as you mention, the book stages, in fact grounds us amidst, the life underneath that persists despite predictive calculations, I last want to turn our attention to the implication that these early scenes of receiving care not possible to receive in the US (or anyway not covered) are afterwards linked, via an exploration of autoimmunity, to, certainly, the geopolitics of the pathetic present, and also to layers — centrally — of the ancient past: “the government calculates the frequency to increase your sense of despondence” (23). 

This is not a rediscovery of family roots, for “kinship breaks down as immune system” (93). But theater, with its roots in ritual sacrifice, offers Stecopoulos a network of languages for rethinking and reimagining “illness” as excessive sensitivity, as a situation in which one can go beyond witnessing the pain of those on the other side of history’s knife — one can “dream for them” in “The Asklepion” (99). The poetry’s generative, at times liberatory, bite comes from the indirectness of such claims, which operate as a series of swerves moving us, if moving us at all, out of linear time, producing not “progress” but “impasse,” troubled and therapeutic pause in the dark. This is not a path to salvation or recovery. Such words have been lost to us by now, “abducted by church fathers / and returned in fantastic boats” (94).

Antistrophe

wolach: And so bodies made sick intentionally get in the way, excess spills in the darkened corners and messes up the machine, and “theater” counters “theater” counters “the theatrical.” Armies of Compassion patiently stages the ground, wraps us in a careful chamber, set up under cover of darkness inside a home-front laboratory for real-time occupation that is itself so precise in its formal maneuvers under Bush’s regime that it approaches the poetic. If this is a world where the imperial tactical rhetorics and organizational capacities since Bush have become so well rehearsed as to become in organization poetic, then we are in need of philosophically cruel labors that can both invert such precise groundwork and articulate through sensitivity’s excesses that groundwork’s designs. We must sing out of tune out of turn.

These pairings in Armies of Compassion, these doublings of sense that occur through phonic resemblance, synonymy, and use of radical enjambment, repurpose and investigate terms deployed in the West that not only behave as a set of pernicious, exclusionary antagonisms, i.e., prescriptive binaries rather than pairings, but that stand in for one another as if the normative political machine were naked in its wish for us to live out the Hobbesian nightmare. Stecopoulos is deft at digging up the trajectory of the rhetoric (and histories) of the false binary or assumed (Cartesian) definition in the service of the modern corporate state, jostling us from the political body to the (post)human body, language to language, where part of the therapeutic here is cruel in the sense Artaud’s theatrical organ is: “I endowed my legislators with / organs of feeling,” writes Stecopoulos (61), echoing not just Shelley’s would-be poet-legislator but reframing Plato’s. Yet the revealing cruelty of therapy always needs to be outsourced, traded among us. To sing out of tune and out of turn occurs under threat when working on the bodies of a distinctly theatrical regime, a regime threatened radically differently by the rhetoric of a polity’s poetry, the organizing (and radical reorganizing) of bodies and their symbols. Where we find linguistic pairs we find provisionality and augmentation, transition, more slippage. The complication of terms appears at level of the line, sometimes between sets of lines on facing pages, and yet at other times this occurs between poems such that like lines, the poems become enjambments of one another, building layers of sound, a soundscape of inversions. Regardless of scale, we get a vulnerable acknowledgment that in the spaces between bodies referential language meets its horizon and we sleep in song’s lament, our points tender and weak, impassively “we are waiting in the echo / for a tone” (97). Or, as Rumsfeld might have accidentally told us, and as Stecopoulos instead does, that in knowing that we do not know, we are accountable to essay one another’s tender points, to become and sing weakness. We are, as Edmond Jabès might put it, “gravely responsible” for those things said and unsaid:[10]

Philosophy never confesses its diagnostic
essay all points tender to
the point of weakness and lament’s
nothing but ferocity
unclassed as song (83)


1.  Our thanks to Katrina Jones for her invaluable and inspired comments on this review.

2. See, for example, David Buuck, “Buried Treasure Island,” PDF and other materials.

3. We are referring here and throughout this review to passages in Antonin Artaud, Theater and Its Double, trans. Mary Caroline Richards (New York: Grove Press, 1958).

4. See Susan Parenti’s treatment of this idea in The Politics of the Adjective ‘Political’ and Other Plays (Champaign, IL: Non Sequitur Press, 2000).

5. See, for example, Raul Zurita’s Song for His Disappeared Love (Brooklyn: Action Books, 2010).

6. Donovan’s play on Spinoza and treatment of Deleuze shows up variously in Donovan’s work. See, for example, the excerpt from “from ‘Somatic Practice’” on Harriet the Blog, and more recently as it appears at the end of his poem “The New Us” at Bomb Magazine. For the Spinozan formulation, see especially Spinoza, The Ethics, Part III, and in particular, E3p2. Click here for the translation by R. H. M. Elwes. Of the voluminous material generated by Deleuze on Spinoza’s “mind-body” formulations, see, to start, “On Spinoza,” available along with other talks. For Foucault’s analysis of the docile body and institutions of regimentation, see Michel Foucault, “Docile Bodies,” in Discipline and Punish (New York: Random House, 1977).

7. Our current thinking has been shaped by many generative discussions on community with writers too numerous to name here. But we’d be remiss not to mention those whose writing on the work of Eleni Stecopoulos has deeply informed this review — we’re particularly indebted to Thom Donovan, Bhanu Kapil, Rob Halpern, and Melissa Buzzeo.

8. kari edwards, “subject: statement,” EOAGH 3.

9. The Oxford English Dictionary provides the Latin etymology “*excappāre, < ex out + cappa cloak.” Oxford English Dictionary (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1989), online edition, copyright 2013, “escape.”

10. Edmond Jabès, “Repondre à repondre pour,” unpublished, 1988, cited in Rosemarie Waldrop’s “Alarms and Excursions” in The Politics of Poetic Form, ed. Charles Bernstein (New York: Roof, 1990).