Monday, September 27, 2010
Monday, September 20, 2010
My poem, Crossing Legs, is now featured online at the smashing website, Poetry 365. Crossing Legs is featured in print in the Uphook Press anthology, hell strung and crooked. And in celebration of hell strung and crooked I’ll be reading Crossing Legs tomorrow evening, Tuesday evening, September 21, at The Cornelia Street Café at 29 Cornelia Street (between Bleecker and West 4th) at 6pm, along with fellow poets Joseph Fritsch, Christian Georgescu, Robert Gibbons, Deborah Hauser, Bob Quatrone, Francesca Sphynx, John J. Trause, Geoffrey Kagan Trenchard, Stephanie Valente and Jacob Victorine.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Let’s begin at the beginning, or, rather, let’s begin at the title. Titles are important as they not only serve as ID tags they serve the purpose of an object hypothesis, which is to say they tell us something about where the work (in this case the poetry) is going, where the work will or is intended to end up (where it will take us, its readers). Sometimes a title, in addition to its being an ID tag (which in many cases is enough), serves to point out something important for us, something we must take notice of if we are to “get” at the psychology behind the work.
As a phrase, “crossing the equal sign” brings to mind a number of things. First, in mathematics, we know that to cross the equals sign is to turn an equals sign into an “unequals” sign. And so it is to change, to transform, to redefine the meaning of: things which were once equal (=) are now no longer equal (≠).
This act of change, of transformation, of redefinition, this “crossing” brings to mind, beyond mathematics, a sense of passage. I think of the story of the crossing of Jordan river, which opens the Book of Joshua in the Bible. The crossing of the Jordan river is a story, a miracle story, of crossing a boundary (the Jordan was the natural eastern boundary of Canaan). It is a story of passage, and so, symbolically, of overcoming, of transcendence.
The scholar Roy Harvey Pearce, in his book The Continuity of American Poetry, quotes Richard Chase writing about Emily Dickinson: “Expressed in the most general terms, this theme is the achievement of status through crucial experiences. . . . The kinds of experience which confer status are love, ‘marriage,’ death, poetic expression, and immediate intuitive experiences which have the redemptive power of grace. . . . And each of the crucial experiences which confer the different kinds of status is a type and emblem of one of them: the coming of death.”
In what sense is this poetry “mathematical”? This poetry is mathematical by point of reference. This is not to say that this poetry makes reference to a specific mathematical element — say, the point, the line, an equation, an operation, a formal symbol — and it ends there; no, the reference is to a characteristic of that element, in much the same sense as when Hugh Kenner writes of Samuel Beckett in his Samuel Beckett A Critical Study: “The processes of mathematics offer themselves to the Beckett protagonists as a bridge into number’s realm of the spectrally perfect, where enmired existence may be annihilated by essence utterly declared.” And so it is not the point as this point or that point but the point in its essence, which is to say in its perfection, and which cannot be known except by definition.
Yes, points were blinking.
Lines were flirting.
Spaces were trampolines.
I could have consulted the Math Reviews.
I could have leafed through a graph theory text.
I could, that is, have notified the authorities.
But I’m a do-it-yourself-er.
I’m a rugged individualist.
I’m a learner and a lover.
I’m a very foolish heart.
Crossing the Equal Sign by Marion Deutsche Cohen.
Plain View Press
Marion Cohen's Website.
Thursday, September 02, 2010
In celebration of the publication of the new Uphook Press anthology, hell strung and crooked, I’ll be reading, along with Joseph Fritsch, Christian Georgescu, Robert Gibbons, Deborah Hauser, Bob Quatrone, Francesca Sphynx, John J. Trause, Geoffrey Kagan Trenchard, Stephanie Valente and Jacob Victorine, on Tuesday evening, September 21, at The Cornelia Street Café at 29 Cornelia Street (between Bleecker and West 4th) at 6pm.
Featuring forty-one poets—from San Francisco, Atlanta, Green Bay, Boston, Seattle, Nashville and New York—hell strung and crooked also includes interviews with Mark Doty and Claus Ankersen.
Featuring: Lenore Balliro, Samantha Barrow, Paul M. L. Belanger, Alex O. Bleecker, Meredith Devney, Malaika Favorite, Joseph Fritsch, Christian Georgescu, Robert Gibbons, Thomas Gibney, Deborah Hauser, Suzanne Heagy, Aimee Herman, R. Nemo Hill, Vicki Iorio, Kit Kennedy, Stephen Kopel, David Lawton, Richard Loranger, E. K. Mortenson, Nancy Carol Moody, Puma Perl, John Marcus Powell, Bob Quatrone, Seraphime Rhyianir, Lynn Samsel, Jackie Sheeler, Mary McLaughlin Slechta, Elliot D. Smith, Laura L. Snyder, Francesca Sphynx, Gregory Vincent St. Thomasino, Charles F. Thielman, Andrew Topel, John J. Trause, Geoffrey Kagan Trenchard, Stephanie Valente, Jacob Victorine, Ocean Vuong, Bruce Weber and Laura Madeline Wiseman.
Published September 1, 2010