You were always on my mind

My entry for Attention Span. I made the initial list of books about a month ago, mulled over it, adjusted a few titles, and typed it up (predictably, at the very last minute). I tried to only list things that folks could potentially buy or read online. There are other books I enjoyed, but these are the book/objects I keep coming back to– not as a reader, but as an artist who reads. This is a truncated bibliography of what’s going on in my head.

Kristy Bowen and Lauren Levato | at the hotel andromeda | dancing girl press | 2007

An homage to Joseph Cornell, this mixture of texts, objects, and pictures is a refreshing outgrowth of the last generation’s parataxis craze. Also, it reminds me of my chapbook Sommarhuset and I am glad whenever there is more work like the work that I do/want to do, so that there’s a wider discourse in which to participate.

Jessica Bozek and Eli Queen | co•re•spon•dence | dusie chap kollectiv | 2007

Dictionary meets concrete meets index. The possibilities of unfolding this short text are limited in the most satisfying way– the way that means the authors are actually controlling the possibilities, the way that indicates artistry. A micro Infinite Jest.

Cindy Savert | “Rachel (in the temporary midst of prayer)” | Big Game Books | 2007

Savert’s halting lines and short gasps of space … hurt. One of the more memorable tinyside chapbooks so far.

a.rawlings | wide slumber for lepidopterists | Coach House Books | 2006

A book I keep going back to– the perfect blend, the perfect product of the Canadian avant-garde as it strides sound and visual poetry. Also, it’s about butterflies. On the Canadian concrete side I’d also recommend derek beaulieu’s “Flatland,” but it’s not publicly available yet.

Jenny Boully | [one love affair]* | Tarpaulin Sky Press | 2006

As a Duras fan, I find this book immensely pleasurable. As a scholar, I mull over its blend of genres: fiction, autobiography, essay, prose poem. Like Juliana Spahr’s work it makes me question where art ends and criticism begins.

Stephen Crane | The Notebook of Stephen Crane | Donald J. and Ellen B. Greiner, Eds. | University of Virginia | 1969

I’ve loved Stephen Crane for many years, but have been particularly fascinated with him since Susan Howe told our class that as a young man, Wallace Stevens attended Crane’s funeral. This kind of anonymous torch-passing in poetry fascinates me and sheds light on Stevens’s sense of humor. Additionally, I am interested in how the Greiners have chosen to format the notebook. Each page reproduces (in clear type) a page from the notebook, with marginalia describing the physical form of the original text (“written upside down in very light pencil with pencil line above and below”). Interesting play between the text and the ghostly but “scientific” description of it. Bootstrap Productions has put out two “poet’s journal” texts recently (“For the Time Being” and John Weiners’s notebook) and it’s interesting to compare how we look at a manuscript today vs. the formatting capabilities and editorial preferences of 1969.

Michelle Detorie | “Lunar Baedecker: a Hex Presse poetry puzzle inspired by Mina Loy” | Hex Presse | 2007

A 3-D collection of objects that signify or evoke images from “The Lost Lunar Baedecker.” Aesthetically pleasing to look at and fun to contemplate– the syntax of memory, the idea of translating a 2-D text into 3-D objects.

Matthew Klane | Sorrow Songs | self-published | 2007

Klane is a quiet, retiring young man, but his work always puts me through the sordid emotional paces of professional jealousy– a process that eventually resolves into admiration and inspiration. If you read this book you will become a better poet.

Juliet Fleming | Graffiti and the Writing Arts of Early Modern England | Reaktion | 2001

A well-written and illustrated! history of wall decoration in the English Renaissance period and an exploration of what textuality might have meant to people then. Fascinating, informative, surprising, and, unlike most scholarly work, fairly well worked-out on the theoretical level.

Jen Bervin | Dickinson Fascicles | quilts: thread, fabric, batting | 2004-2007

Another genre-defying work, these quilted translations of Emily Dickinson’s editorial marks from the Franklin fascimile blend the folk syntax of quilting with Dickinson’s lingo-syntactical marks. Combines my interest in sewing/quilted syntax/visual art with issues of translation and manuscript editing. Like Bervin’s book “Nets” (Ugly Duckling 2006) this is essentially an erasure poem, but it asks so many more questions than “Nets” AND can keep you warm at night.

Ferrum Wheel No. 6 | Ed. Christopher Fritton | 2007

Other major interests/motivators/inspirations of mine this year include the works of derek beaulieu, Andrew Topel, Brenda Iijima, Aaron Lowinger, Alixandra Bamford, Anne Boyer, Chris Fritton, Luke Daly, Barrett Gordon, Mike Basinski, K. Lorraine Graham, Jen Scappettone, Kate Greenstreet, and Hoa Nguyen; by press, I have relied most heavily on Hex Presse/WOMB, OV/take-home project (the texts are really good! Too bad I can’t get them out!), House, Coach House, no, dos, dusie, dancing girl, and Effing.


About Jessica Smith
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One Response to You were always on my mind

  1. Pingback: Attention Span « looktouchblog

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