Reading Pitch: Drafts 77–95, I’ve begun to wonder if it’s really possible to traverse Rachel Blau DuPlessis’s Drafts project straight through. The way each Draft activates so many inter-texts (within the project & without) seems to suggest that the linear sequence of these poems isn’t the overriding trajectory here, even if we have been reading that axis — those of us following the journal publications of Drafts — following along (if not systematically, at least historically, in roughly chronological order), witnessing the project
It is among these three epigraphs on Rachel Blau DuPlessis’s ongoing (since 1986) serial poem Drafts, what she calls a “series of interdependent, related, canto-length poems,” that this essay positions itself. “Drafts and Fragments,” of course, both is and is not Poundian, invoking — to state the obvious — the title of Pound’s late book of Cantos, Drafts and Fragments of Cantos CX–CXVII. But my title also marks DuPlessis’s Drafts and its relation both to Pound and to fragments.
“To say this project [Drafts] was involved with and against Pound from the start is almost tautological”
“I wanted to make an alternate Cantos, a counter-Cantos.”
“Drafts explicitly positions itself as not-Cantos”
This is a rewriting of my talk at the Temple symposium on Rachel DuPlessis’s career and writing. Though my announced title, “The Mothers of Us All, and Their Fathers: Drafts and the Epic Tradition,” pointed toward Stein, that was just a placeholder I’d provided months before. Stein is a plausible figure to bring to bear on Drafts: hers is the first proper name to appear in the poem, and no modernist is more specifically anti-patriarchal.
In an interview from 2008, Rachel Blau DuPlessis discusses her serial poem Drafts and in particular “Draft 52: Midrash,” which takes up the ethical dilemmas the contemporary poet faces in writing about the Shoah. The poem attempts a sustained response to the challenge of Theodor W.