Commentaries - October 2020

Mirror the holler

Jake Marmer (in his new book, Cosmic Diaspora) tells us a story about his realization that art in performance must permit and include intrusions. This statement is a preface to a section of poems that are verbal score-like transcriptions of music hes never heard but imagines, in some cases. In others, the poems are the effects of writings made while the writer listened to live improvised music. But again, also while he was thinking about music's reverberations. And what, we might ask, is the distinction between those states? Thats the point.

Communist poet at Penn in the 1930s

Poet Eve Merriam did her final two years of undergraduate education at Penn in the mid-1930s. Later, someone writing a Masters thesis wrote about her experience at Penn: here is a page from that. Im grateful to Merriams son, Dee Michel, who shared the document with me.

Speaking beyond the filter


We need a transformation in this country. We need a transformation in the world. We need a transformation of our system, of our values, of our opportunities, towards love and justice and community. That’s why I write. I don’t want to be a writer against Trump.
I want to be a writer for transformation.

— Lina Srivastava, in video for Writers Against Trump[i]