Thursday, February 23, 2006

Able to get at it in bits, in the shortest of sittings lately, but every time I take in a few pages at a time of Break Every Rule, I find something new there, not in Maso's writing directly, but in my blizzard of marginalia from my first read-through, circa 2003. Next to her, "...what interests me is the holding back, the taking away, the terrible truncated shapes left without any real means to complete or resolve themselves. The fear that has calcified and assumes a kind of permanent stance.." next to this I wrote the word "wake." I can't quite place if I had been writing the "wake" sequence of The Mudra before, during or after reading this, and, having completed the life cycle of that book last year with the last of the readings I felt compelled to give from that book, I'd left that work off in a spot in my mind akin to Before Our Common Era. But remembering it anew, my concerns then, from this distance and how history has gone out from under that poem of jagged prose. That "wake" seemingly locked in place, not altogether successful in fully realizing my lofty intentions, but a stop along the way, which is all I expect of poems lately.

In any case, my attraction to this passage, whether it was before/during or after "wake" was due to my desire to attempt to enact in a poem a sense of violation or trespass, and looking to the form to do that.. it became a project of syntax. I was trying to explore and undermine the sense of safety usually guaranteed by a line, a phrase, a word, a sentence, at a time when safety became an active pursuit.. it was our first summer in an apartment with more gang activity and gun-fire in closer proximity than we'd yet experienced and in the months immediately following "shock and awe" i was still trying to understand the cultural history and underpinning of violence that made preemption possible. Interesting that in the intervening two and a half years, a period of time I used to think would be adequate for righting the balance, putting out the bush fire and restoring some sanity to our foreign policy, the influence of war is no longer satisfied to exercise itself at the level of abstraction and form. I've seen in the work of a lot of other writers this imperative pivot too. I'm sure someone more inclined to writing essays for Jacket has already noted this, but I'm just coming to my senses.


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