Charles River

Charles River
Upper Limit Cloud/Lower Limit Sail

Derrida

"Messianicity is not messianism ... even though this distinction remains fragile and enigmatic." (Jacques Derrida)

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Dog Days of Summer or, Time to Get Sirius

As the last few postings here have shown, a spirit of midsummer lassitude has pleasantly descended here at The Messianic. Fear not, behind the scenes I am scribbling away mightily. Here's what's in the works:

- The special feature I've been editing for Jacket 2, on the poetry of Rachel Blau DuPlessis, is nearly completed and should go online sometime in August. It will contain some remarkable essays and engagements with Drafts, a new poem by RBD -- "Draft 109: Wall Newspaper" -- and a collection of photos documenting various stages in her career. Aside from a feature that ran a few years ago in However 2, the web avatar of Kathleen Fraser's groundbreaking avant-feminist zine, How(ever), this will represent the most sustained consideration of her work to date.

- My review of Michael Palmer's Thread will also be appearing later this summer in J2, as soon, that is, as I finish it. I will just say this for now: it's his most exciting and powerful collection since 1988's At Passages.

- Each year in August, for some time now, Steve Evans has produced an annual round up of what people are reading for his Attention Span site. It's a great service to the experimental poetry scene, one I've been contributing to since 2008. Because of dissertation pressures, I've never been able to do more than compile a list of books accompanied by all too brief and downright hermetic blurbs. This year, anticipating Steve's request, I've put together something a little more substantive and considered. And if it doesn't run there, it will run here, reader. Some of the poets will be familiar to readers of this blog.

- I've spent the last two weeks performing a major overhaul/retrospective of virtually everything I've ever written. This has meant going back to 1975 or so. An archaeological undertaking like this can place considerable strain on one's emotional resources. Reader, I found many poems that were very, very bad. (Sifting through the strata, I once again was reminded how deeply Rilke left his mark on my impressionable psyche. But why oh why did I spend so much time reading Robert Bly?) The point of this exercise was to take stock; and to locate the poems that weren't so bad. Of these, I'm happy to say, there are quite a few.

- This overhaul has also included all the book and film reviews written for various publications since 1990, along with the surviving number of script coverages I wrote in the movie industry from 1990-1997, and the cream of graduate seminar essays worth saving, with a view toward revision and eventual publication.

- More crucially, I've revamped and continue to tinker with two poetry manuscripts that I've been working on for a few years now (and submitting to publishers for ever, it seems): SONG X and GNOSTIC ETUDES. A third ms., still in need of editing, is centered around what I like to call, in lieu of that hoary genre, the nature poem, "eco-locations." It's entitled GROUND MUSIC. A few of these will appear later this year in Interim and Colorado Review, thanks to the good office of Matthew Cooperman.

- Finally, in the spirit of fugitive postings of old material that I remain inordinately fond of, I will begin posting here later this week a four-part installment on three great Western movies -- Vera Cruz, The Professional, and The Wild Bunch. This material dates from 1997, I think, though it's been spruced up a bit. Sensibility-wise, it straddles the moment when I was shifting from movie work and free-lance reviewing to full-on scholarly pursuits. The closing of the frontier has always seemed to me a greater subject than its opening since it always concerned with loss.

So far, the dog days are actually turning out rather nicely this year.

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