phrase from Jena Osman’s Amblyopia
If so, as reader and/or writer, you’ve invited her, you can kick her out. Or you can make sure you don’t ever invite her in again. Or can you?
I’m hard-pressed to think of any parties without her.
Jackson MacLow and John Cage’s chance techniques didn’t banish her. Practiced over time these techniques created different vessels, different masks, for her. She was still there, ready to be filled, to be fulfilling. Computer generated programs created to limit her influence seem to strengthen it, the operations of the program taking precedence over the resulting content. Clark Coolidge’s The Maintains put her in the closet or under the bed, but she’s there chuckling under the page.
Most recently, in my reading, though she was lurching around the page, her presence could be found in Rodrigo Toscano’s To Leveling Swerve. She may seem to be random in Steve Tills’ Behave, yet as the rants mount toward two hundred, they take on their own structure – the rants threaten to become a new genre -- and she makes her presence known.
You’ve enjoyed her company before. She’s often been the life of the party, bringing out the best in all the other elements, providing a clear beginning, middle, and end, for those who need such markers. She’s brought satisfying closure to many a gathering between words and readers. She’s produced deft turns in writer-reader conversations (I can hear Creeley, Bernstein, Armantrout’s line among others). She’s held together marathon parties such as Ron Silliman’s The Alphabet, infusing a recursive rhythm to Lyn Hejinian’s My Life.
In Thom Gunn’s The Man with Night Sweats she doesn’t have to hide, loud or not (Thom’s cooked for her and picked out her favorite pinot). With her playful hand he’s produced poems with rhymes that draw no more attention than background alliteration or assonance. He’s found a way to accommodate her so she doesn’t have to strut through the house dressed in heavy formal gown.
She’s the raison d’etre of many a seminal concrete poem (see the Williams’ anthology for innumerable examples of structure/content mirror relationships). Though much contemporary visual poetry, e.g. Nico Vassilakis, Jim Leftwich solo and in cosmic dance with John Bennett, appears to de-fuse – to make diffuse -- her magnetic field, she’s there, in your house, in your wheelhouse, pointing to a/n r/evolving c/enter.
I’m going to invite her to our human independence barbecue (July 3-10’s the week). I’m telling her though she’s going to have to bring something stout to drink. I may or may not plug my ears.