The obvious entry for A is anxiogenic: translation is anxiogenic.
Whereas the convergences defining translation cause anxiety or manifest around situations causing anxiety – be that experienced as apprehension, dismay, desire, dread, fear, fugue, inclination, misgiving, restlessness, etc.
Parsing was published thirty-nine years ago in 1976 by Asylum’s Press, the press I started (with Susan Bee) to publish my first book, Asylum. There were under fifty copies made, xerox, side-staple.
The first part of the book, “Sentences,” is composed almost entirely from setences taken from two sources and both are oral histories: Working by Studs Terkel and Yessir, I’ve Been Here a Long Time: Faces and Words of Americans by George Mitchell. I lifted and arranged sentences from these vernacular speech transcriptions and placed them amidst sentences I generated myself. All the sentences in this first part are vernacular and start with an “I” or a “You” or an “It.”
The consolations of art are limited. As are we. It is supreme arrogance to imagine otherwise. We must, nonetheless, swell these limits, make them swollen to the point, even, of suffering. This is the consolation of art – messy consolation though it sounds. Simone Weil tells us, “It is an act of cowardice to seek from (or wish to give) the people we love any other consolation than that which works of art give us” (65). It is brave, then, to insist on attending acutely to that art – and the everything else it tries to get at – what is unsayable and yet worth attention. This work is the hard stuff of art.
The hard work of the mind considering its attention – its ethical demands – is poetry’s task.
PROEM . It was raining when we got to Wroclaw (Breslau), the miles from Auschwitz bringing back the memories of what had happened there. Traveling with our son we had made reservations for a single suite at the Hotel Monopol, but when we pulled in, the hotel could only come up with two separate rooms. After a while, though, the desk clerk said that they had found a suite for us that was free. An elderly bellhop carried our bags up the central flight of stairs, threw the big doors open, put our bags down on the floor, & asked me with a little smile, “And do you know who slept here?” Then he answered his own question: “Hitler!—And he made a speech from that balcony.” After which he turned & closed the doors behind him, leaving us to think again about our fate & theirs.
A need to register the ecological effects of anthropocy may motivate an ecopoetic approach to soundscapes. But there’s also the fact of what scientists are calling “learned deafness” for which embodying listening-being becomes an organic imperative. Embedded, active listening is connective, emplacing, locating. But more than that: what if where you are is what you hear, and vice versa? According to Anthropologist Tim Ingold and constituents of bioregionalism, what we contemporary humans lack is inhabitant knowledge – and engaging sense capacities in acts of listening-being is one way contemporary poets cultivate inhabitant knowledge.
Informed by Soundscape Ecology, acoustic imbalances, and the fragmenting of natural habitats is the focused listening in Jonathan Skinner’s Birds of Tifft. Language is modified to “capture” sounds like a directional mic, registering, in a poem titled “Beaver,” shift from ground, to figure, to ground, to figure, etc., with the mammal making but a brief appearance via a couplet near the center of the poem: