[Originally published in part in Dialectical Anthropology: Essays in Honor of Stanley Diamond, edited by Christine Ward Gailey (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1992). Copies of Diane Rothenberg’s book, Mothers of the Nation, in which this essay also appeared, may still be available through Ta’wil Books, email@example.com. Another essay, “Corn Soup & Fry Bread,” was posted earlier on December 5, 2008, in Poems and Poetics, and parts one and two of the present essay first appeared there in September 2014.
On March 26, 2003, before an audience gathered for an event sponsored by the SUNY Buffalo Poetics Program, David Antin performed a fifty-minute talk-poem called “War.” It seems to have been a tense gathering. The second US incursion into Iraq had begun six days earlier, led by George W. Bush, who features prominently in Antin’s talk that evening. After delivering “War” this once, Antin apparently never transcribed it — nor apparently then, in his usual mode, lineated this talk-poem. Did he not sufficiently value it, then or later? Is it perhaps too unlike his usual talking performance? Perhaps it too directly referred to the political problem of the moment in relation to the poet’s work?