Nathalie Sarraute's Tropisms is considered one of the defining texts of the nouveau roman movement. Tropisms was championed as a masterpiece by Jean Genet, Marguerite Duras, and Jean-Paul Sartre, who hailed Sarraute as his favorite "anti-novelist." Sarraute defined her Tropisms as the "movements that are hidden under the commonplace, seemingly harmless instances of our everyday lives." Like figures in a grainy and shadowy photo, the characters in Tropisms are barely defined, the narrative never developed beyond a stressed moment. Instead, Sarraute brilliantly highlights the shift in tone through remarks or subtle details when a relationship changes, when we fall slightly deeper into or begin to emerge out of love or trust, or when something innocent tilts by the smallest degree toward suspicion.
Tropisms--something like 'prose poems'--as Sarraute calls them that-- this is her form! Her texture is anti-novelistic, though she's decided to write 'novels' and launched an important critique of the novel on the basis of her method.--Susan Sontag
Translated by Maria Jolas.
Black Mountain College had an explosive influence on American poetry, music, art, craft, dance, and thought; it's hard to imagine any other institution that was so utopian, rebellious, and experimental. Founded with the mission of creating rounded, complete people by balancing the arts and manual labor within a democratic, nonhierarchical structure, Black Mountain was a crucible of revolutionary literature. Although this artistic haven only existed from 1933 to 1956, Black Mountain helped inspire some of the most radical and significant midcentury American poets.
This anthology begins with the well-known Black Mountain Poets--Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, Robert Duncan, and Denise Levertov--but also includes the artist Josef Albers and the musician John Cage, as well as the often overlooked women associated with the college, M. C. Richards and Hilda Morley.
Jenny Erpenbeck's highly acclaimed novel Go, Went, Gone was a New York Times notable book and launched one of Germany's most admired writers into the American spotlight. In the New Yorker, James Wood wrote: "When Erpenbeck wins the Nobel Prize in a few years, I suspect that this novel will be cited."
On the heels of this literary breakthrough comes Not a Novel, a book of personal, profound, often humorous meditations and reflections. Erpenbeck writes, "With this collection of texts, I am looking back for the first time at many years of my life, at the thoughts that filled my life from day to day."
Starting with her childhood days in East Berlin ("I start with my life as a schoolgirl ... my own conscious life begins at the same time as the socialist life of Leipziger Strasse"), Not a Novel provides a glimpse of growing up in the GDR and of what it was like to be twenty-two when the wall collapsed; it takes us through Erpenbeck's early adult years, working in a bakery after immersing herself in the worlds of music, theater, and opera, and ultimately discovering her path as a writer.
There are lively essays about her literary influences (Thomas Bernhard, the Brothers Grimm, Kafka, and Thomas Mann), unforgettable reflections on the forces at work in her novels (including history, silence, and time), and scathing commentaries on the dire situation of America and Europe today. "Why do we still hear laments for the Germans who died attempting to flee over the wall, but almost none for the countless refugees who have drowned in the Mediterranean in recent years, turning the sea into a giant grave?" With deep insight and warm intelligence, Jenny Erpenbeck provides us with a collection of unforgettable essays that take us into the heart and mind of "one of the finest and most exciting writers alive"
Published September 2020.
Minor Detail begins during the summer of 1949, one year after the war that the Palestinians mourn as the Nakba—the catastrophe that led to the displacement and exile of some 700,000 people—and the Israelis celebrate as the War of Independence. Israeli soldiers murder an encampment of Bedouin in the Negev desert, and among their victims they capture a Palestinian teenager and they rape her, kill her, and bury her in the sand.
Many years later, in the near-present day, a young woman in Ramallah tries to uncover some of the details surrounding this particular rape and murder, and becomes fascinated to the point of obsession, not only because of the nature of the crime, but because it was committed exactly twenty-five years to the day before she was born. Adania Shibli masterfully overlays these two translucent narratives of exactly the same length to evoke a present forever haunted by the past.
Great American writers — William Carlos Williams, Jonathan Edwards, Emily Dickinson, Noah Webster, Hart Crane, Wallace Stevens, Henry James —in the physicality of their archival manuscripts (reproduced here in the beautiful facsimiles)—are the presiding spirits of Spontaneous Particulars: Telepathy of Archives.
Also woven into Susan Howe’s long essay are beautiful photographs of embroideries and textiles from anonymous craftspeople. The archived materials create links, discoveries, chance encounters, the visual and the acoustic shocks of rooting around amid physical archives. These are the telepathies the bibliomaniacal poet relishes. Rummaging in the archives she finds “a deposit of a future yet to come, gathered and guarded…a literal and mythical sense of life hereafter—you permit yourself liberties —in the first place—happiness.” Digital scholarship may offer much for scholars, but Susan Howe loves the materiality of research in the real archives, and Spontaneous Particulars “is a collaged swan song to the old ways.”
Memorably fierce: with her long career in view today, her comment on Dickinson, in 1985, applies to Howe herself: 'A great poet, carrying the antique imagination of her fathers, requires of each reader to leap from a place of certain signification, to a new situation, undiscovered and sovereign. She carries intelligence of the past into future of our thought by reverence and revolt. -- Langdon Hammer
“Only artworks are capable of transmitting chthonic echo-signals,” Susan Howe has said.
In Concordance,she has created a fresh body of work transmitting vital signals from a variety of archives. “Since,” a semiautobiographical prose poem, opens the collection: concerned with first and last things, meditating on the particular and peculiar affinities between law and poetry, it ranges from the Permian time of Pangaea through Rembrandt and Dickinson to the dire present. “Concordance” a collage poem originally published as a Grenfell Press limited edition, springs from slivers of poetry and marginalia, cut from old concordances and facsimile editions of Milton, Swift, Herbert, Browning, Dickinson, Coleridge, and Yeats, as well as from various field guides to birds, rocks, and trees: the collages’ “rotating prisms” form the heart of the book.
The final poem, “Space Permitting,” is collaged from drafts and notes Thoreau sent to Emerson and Margaret Fuller’s friends and family in Concord while on a mission to recover Fuller’s remains from a shipwreck on Fire Island. The fierce ethic of salvage in these three very different pieces expresses the vitalism in words, sounds, and syllables—the telepathic spirit of all things singing into air.
In the collage poems language is both word and image. Source texts are cut up and repurposed, overlaid, truncated--they scatter across the page and spill into the gutter, run to the outside margins. Small blocks of quotations are buttressed and broidered by other quotations, slender and enigmatic, running in the opposite direction; some are illegible, serving more as shapes, gnomic geometries born of inscrutable utterances. To embody, in graphic or poetic form, a reconstituted approach to reading and writing, one that reaches beyond the page, through difficulty, silence, and stutters, to another kind of knowledge. -- Emily LaBarge
A collection of works by a Whiting Writer's Award-winning poet is divided into three sections including Braid, Fray, and Nub and features two ongoing serial poems that have evolved throughout more than twenty years, such as a West African spirit song and an exploration of a lost we tribe.
In the cosmology of the Dogon of West Africa, the Andoumboulou are progenitor spirits, and the song of the Andoumboulou is a song addressed to the spirits, a funeral song, a song of rebirth. "Mu ," too, splays with meaning: muni bird, Greek muthos, a Sun Ra tune, a continent once thought to have existed in the Pacific. With the vibrancy of a Mira painting, Mackey's poems trace the lost tribe of "we" through waking and dreamtime, through a multitude of geographies, cultures, histories, and musical traditions, as poetry here serves as the intersection of everything, myth's music, spirit lift.
In these essays, the acclaimed artist, photographer, writer, and filmmaker Moyra Davey often begins with a daily encounter--with a photograph, a memory, or a passage from a book--and links that subject to others, drawing fascinating and unlikely connections, until you can almost feel the texture of her thinking. While thinking and writing, she weaves together disparate writers and artists--Mary Wollstonecraft, Jean Genet, Virginia Woolf, Janet Malcolm, Chantal Akerman, and Roland Barthes, among many others--in a way that is both elliptical and direct, clearheaded and personal, prismatic and self-examining, layering narratives to reveal the thorny but nourishing relationship between art and life.
Nightwood, Djuna Barnes' strange and sinuous tour de force, "belongs to that small class of books that somehow reflect a time or an epoch" (Times Literary Supplement). That time is the period between the two World Wars, and Barnes' novel unfolds in the decadent shadows of Europe's great cities, Paris, Berlin, and Vienna--a world in which the boundaries of class, religion, and sexuality are bold but surprisingly porous.
The outsized characters who inhabit this world are some of the most memorable in all of fiction--there is Guido Volkbein, the Wandering Jew and son of a self-proclaimed baron; Robin Vote, the American expatriate who marries him and then engages in a series of affairs, first with Nora Flood and then with Jenny Petherbridge, driving all of her lovers to distraction with her passion for wandering alone in the night; and there is Dr. Matthew-Mighty-Grain-of-Salt-Dante-O'Connor, a transvestite and ostensible gynecologist, whose digressive speeches brim with fury, keen insights, and surprising allusions. Barnes' depiction of these characters and their relationships (Nora says, "A man is another persona woman is yourself, caught as you turn in panic; on her mouth you kiss your own") has made the novel a landmark of feminist and lesbian literature.
Profiles of all the women named Helen in Troy, NY, with poems and images, mixing the classical with the ordinary and delightful intelligence with irreverence.
'everybody died there’s nothing more to say my hair’s braided like a family i took off, it was fun, i loved it if you did something wrong, they punished you one helen is enough, trust me'
For Wallace Stevens, “Poetry is the scholar’s art.” Susan Howe—taking the poet-scholar-critics Charles Olson, H.D., and William Carlos Williams (among others) as her guides—embodies that art in her 1985 My Emily Dickinson (winner of the Before Columbus Foundation Book Award). Howe shows ways in which earlier scholarship had shortened Dickinson’s intellectual reach by ignoring the use to which she put her wide reading. Giving close attention to the well-known poem, “My Life had stood—a Loaded Gun,” Howe tracks Dickens, Browning, Emily Brontë, Shakespeare, and Spenser, as well as local Connecticut River Valley histories, Puritan sermons, captivity narratives, and the popular culture of the day. “Dickinson’s life was language and a lexicon her landscape. Forcing, abbreviating, pushing, padding, subtracting, riddling, interrogating, re-writing, she pulled text from text….”
Vale Ave -- Latin for "Farewell, Hail" -- is a hymn to Eros that unfolds as a gorgeous palimpsest of eternal recurrence and reincarnation, charting the course of two lovers who each seek the other across cultures, myths, and centuries. Vale Ave is alchemical -- "mystery and portent, yes, but at the same time," as H. D. writes, "there is Resurrection and the hope of Paradise."
In Frame Structures, Susan Howe brings together those of her earliest poems she wishes to remain in print, and in the forms in which she cares to have them last. Gathered here are versions of Hinge Picture (1974), Chanting at the Crystal Sea (1975), Cabbage Gardens (1979), and Secret History of the Dividing Line (1978) that differ in some respects from their original small-press editions. In a long preface, "Frame Structures", written especially for this volume, Howe suggests the autobiographical, familial, literary, and historical motifs that suffuse these early works. Taken together, the preface and poems reflect her rediscovered sense of her own beginnings as a poet, her movement from the visual arts into the iconography of the written word.
rile* is a bookshop and project space for publication and performance. rile* is into poetry, theory, choreography, artist writing and various other text based experiments. rile* organizes performances, meetings, launches, readings... rile* is the base word for silence in Láadan, a feminist constructed language developed by Suzette Haden Elgin in 1982. The language was included in her science fiction Native Tongue series. Láadan contains a number of words that are used to make unambiguous statements that include how one feels about what one is saying. According to Elgin, this is designed to counter language's limitations to those who are forced to respond I know I said that, but I meant this.
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