Ted Pearson

To the goon ictus (PoemTalk #188)

Ted Pearson, "Catenary Odes"

from left: Rachel Blau DuPlessis, William Fuller, Bruce Andrews

Al Filreis hosted Rachel Blau DuPlessis, William Fuller, and Bruce Andrews in the Wexler Studio of the Kelly Writers House for a conversation about Ted Pearson's book-length poem Catenary Odes. The book was first published by O Books in 1987. The poem, or perhaps it is a series of couplet-length poems, covers 44 pages in print; the PoemTalk group discussed the first 11 pages, approximately 40 lines. Our section ends with “the body electric in a brownout / the western mind in a jar.” The recording we play in this episode comes from Pearson’s PennSound page, from an audiotaping of a reading given in the Segue Series at the Ear Inn in New York on December 4, 1993.

Bruce Andrews: 'Debauching the Sine Wave'

“tipped / lobes”

Corona was the first book by Bruce Andrews that I read, circa 1976. I was drawn to it for its strict, if oblique, economies, but also because its exclusions reveal as much as its manifest content. I suppose my primary “rubric” for poetry is that it not assume a place for itself, but rather that it construct such a place in fidelity to the contingent logic that requires it to be as it is and not otherwise. For better and worse, as they say.

No less intriguing, however, was the sense that Andrews was building — that is, batching and sorting “mouth signatures” via “all kinds / of robbery” — a scalable vocabulary for the work to come, albeit I had no idea of how capacious that scale would soon become. Was the magisterial mayhem of The Millennium Project already present in nuces in the “tipped / lobes” of Corona?

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