Editorial assistant Quinn Gruber reviews three multitudinous poetry titles: Ringing the Changes by Stephanie Strickland; Repetition Nineteen by Monica de la Torre; and Illusory Borders by Heidi Reszies. Of Strickland's book, Quinn writes: Ringing the Changes sounds through the highly precise patterns of English bell ringing, producing a “work that transgresses the boundary between thought as act and thought as content.” A series of twenty-three “bells” of text resonate in “many different interlocking dimensions” of climate change, racial justice, art, and performance; in the unique changes, “each of these pocket universes of social and economic reality has its own structure and forms, its own space and geometry.” In the overwhelming crises of the present, Strickland reminds us what the body can do: “It can reach out. It can look up.”
In Seattle, Washington, Al Filreis convened Kate Colby, Tyrone Wiilliams, Mónica de la Torre, and Aldon Nielsen to talk about a late poem of Wallace Stevens, “The Poem That Took the Place of a Mountain.” The group collaborates on an enumeration of possibilities for understanding the poet’s current ruminative state as a retrospective view of his previous poems and old ideas about poetry. Past perfect and conditional language — had needed, would be right, would discover, could lie — make us doubt that there is or ever was such a thing as a “there” in “There it was.”
The ModPo team went on the road to Providence, Rhode Island — joined by Laynie Browne — to film some new collaborative readings of poems to add to the ModPoPLUS syllabus. Of course while there they just had to stop at the remarkable home of Rosmarie and Keith Waldrop, where Laynie, Kate Colby, and Mónica de la Torre (and, in a cameo appearance here, Lee Ann Brown), recorded a special episode of PoemTalk. This episode is presented here as an audio podcast, and as a video too. The poem discussed, “Memory Tree,” is from Rosmarie Waldrop’s book Split Infinites (published by Gil Ott’s Singing Horse Press in 1998). Here is a link to the text of the prose poem.
If you are interested in contemporary Chilean Poetry, and you haven’t heard the name Juan Luis Martínez yet, then something is terribly wrong: you’ve been missing a lot. The good news is we are going to fix that right away.
Juan Luis Martínez was born in Valparaíso, in 1942. Son of the general manager of a reputable local steamship company, and a woman of Nordic origin coming from a very traditional family, he spent most of his life between the cities of Valparaíso, Viña del Mar, and Villa Alemana (Germantown!). As soon as he started high school, he abandoned his studies to embrace the bohemian lifestyle of the late ’50s in Valparaíso.
Poet, artist, composer and publisher Dick Higgins’ culminating work might be his 1987 study, Pattern Poetry: Guide to an Unknown Literature. The categories he draws up, and the drawing up of them, are as fascinating as the examples in this profusely illustrated book. Categories that replace received notions of prosody in visual terms call for new units of measure. Why replace? Because we equate poetry with verse, using the old would make the term “pattern poetry” redundant, short-circuiting its explanatory power.