Articles

The technological poetics of Thomas Weatherly

Thomas Weatherly’s literary productivity during the last stage of his life is an important chapter of work. His last years of truly phenomenal creative output also reveal the limitations that still prevail in the ways literary value is often measured and respected, especially in scholarship on African American writers.

Emails to Lauri Scheyer (Ramey), 2005–2014

Note: Below are excerpts from four emails written to Lauri Scheyer (Ramey) between 2005 and 2014, including reflections on Weatherly’s writing process, friends and enemies, family, aging, poetic form, teaching, and first arrival in New York (during which “I rewrote [Allen Ginsberg’s] Howl; Kaddish a great poem didn’t need revision”). Sometimes it feels as if we heard in these emails a speaking voice, fragments of an ongoing conversation constructed of anecdote, reminiscence, description, opinion.

Sited

On Jenny Xie and the fate of the flâneur

Photo of Jenny Xie by Robert Bredvad.

It’s 1967, and Guy Debord, grumpy but prescient, senses a change in the air. Throughout his treatise The Society of the Spectacle, he attempts to show how mass media and late-capitalist modes of production degrade social relations. Together, they reorient human organization around images detached from lived reality. Their slogan: “What appears is good; what is good appears.”

Perceptual distance may turn into mental distance,
and the phenomenon of disinterested beholding may emerge,
this essential ingredient in what we call “objectivity” — Hans Jonas[1]

Lineated time

Some thoughts on the line in poetry

Prague astronomical clock. Photo by Andrew Shiva.

Two problems, first of beginning, then of cohering, beset me as I worried the topic of this talk. Beginning and cohering, obviously, elementary features of typical expository forms, but problematic, more so for a topic that one finds, at the same time, fundamental and elusive, elusive because fundamental, in one’s own practice of reading and writing.

Two problems, first of beginning, then of cohering, beset me as I worried the topic of this talk. Beginning and cohering, obviously, elementary features of typical expository forms, but problematic, more so for a topic that one finds, at the same time, fundamental and elusive, elusive because fundamental, in one’s own practice of reading and writing.

But here are three thoughts to possibly begin with:

Janky materiality

Artifice and interface

We live in machines but are not machines. Restless forms imagine new presents, where past and future meet. As becoming-digital beings, we retain and engage the problem of embodiment, which needs a world, needs other forms, needs to die. Death is our stake: neither early nor late.

Poetry is music, and nothing but music. — Amiri Baraka 

Poetry is heard; it is the heard thing. — Erín Moure

Materiality and embodiment