Commentaries - June 2013

Wise Ys: Stephen Nelson's 'Dance of Past Lives'

Metaphors, metaphorms, metavores, letters which reach

Stephen Nelson's Dance of Past Lives
Dance of Past Lives


Stephen Nelson’s Dance of Past Lives is an array of alphabetic pas de deux. Duets de Y. The letter as body. As body text. An abstract dance, wise metaphorms meta(phor)morpho-singing into stars, trees, other symbols. Y is another. An A. A tittle or jot as ball, sun, rayless star. I-less is another.

Antibodies are y-shaped. Texts are (wh)y-shaped. Y? Not because (Y)YOLO.

An array of past whys. Whysdom. What were our letters in a past life? How did we read?

Dubrava Djuric: "I wonna talk to you"

new at Sibyl

Dubravka Djuric's
"I wonna talk to you"

– just published in Sybyl responds to "Talk to Me" a 1999 work of mine in Recalculating, which is a transcription of an improvised poem I did at the Whitney (see below) that talks about a trip James Sherry and I took to Belgrade twenty years ago and my subsequent emails with Dubravka during the NATO bombings.

One knock for the clown

Roger Ballen, Squawk (2005)

Up until the publication of my first book this spring, I recoiled at the prospect of giving readings and rarely did — not only out of a universal shyness at public speaking, but also, and moreso, from the acute sense that reading my poems aloud didn’t represent them right and that, without too much conceptual work or production, you could make simple machines of performance that could, as poet David Buuck says through these great thin walls of J2, “activate manifold potentialities in the work, such that each reading is both an interpretation as well as a further investigation into how the poem ‘means’.” 

Diane Rothenberg: 'On the Insanity of Cornplanter' (part two) [redux]

Four Iroquois chiefs painted from life, circa 1710
Four Iroquois chiefs painted from life, circa 1710

[Part One was posted on May 31 and is available here.]

The existence of the content of Cornplanter’s visions is serendipitous.  A copy of the manuscript (or the original) was in the collection of the Cornplanter family aand was found and recopied by  a young man, Charles Aldrich, in 1849, and sent to Lyman C. Draper who had expressed an interest in collecting memorabilia relevant to a project on the Revolutionary War.  Aldrich offered himself as a reliable local scholar who had access to a series of documents in the possession of William O’Beale, one of Cornplanter’s sons.  Aldrich apologized to Draper for the legibility of the manuscript he sent because, he explained, he was rushed in producing it, but “it is about as legible from the ms from which it is taken.”

Afterlives 'unfolding': Figures of afterness at the Conference on Ecopoetics

by Angela Hume

Discarded plastic in the UC Berkeley Eucalyptus Grove. Photo by conference participant Jen Coleman.

I have been thinking about afterness, ecopoetics, and ecological crisis. What does it mean to come after? After Katrina? After the BP blowout? After 400 parts per million?[1] After what the philosopher Ray Brassier calls “the fact of extinction” itself?[2] What might it mean for poetry and poetics? In Evelyn Reilly’s words, it’s possible that “we are in a moment of…more and more poetry [relating] to the ecological, that, in an inverse of ‘no poetry after Auschwitz,’ we are in a moment of ‘all poetry after Katrina,’ or the Deepwater Horizon, or Sandy or whatever it is that comes next.”[3]