Saturday, October 13, 2007

reminding you of silent doubles

Rachel Blau DuPlessis, poet, teacher, critic, editor: her newest book of poems is Torques: Drafts 58-76, out from Salt Modern Poets since September. Drafts is an ongoing long poem (Rachel calls it her "endless poem") written in canto-like sections, and Torques is the third collection of these to appear since 2001 (she's been writing the drafts since '85).

Rachel has prepared a grid that helps to organized the whole project so far (well, at least as of March 2007). So, for instance, draft 59 is "flash back" and 62 is "gap" and 69 is "sentences" and 85 is "hard copy."

The new book stops at 76, but of course Rachel continues to create drafts of this endless poems, and I've been reading "Draft 85: Hard Copy" lately and here are some of my favorite passages:

Even the simplest things
Their provenance--
a shoe, a prosthetic
post-war leg
reminding you of
silent doubles
unfinished, imperfect,
imperfect, shadowy.

Slowly the particulars
get scattered to the wind....


Chickens come Home.
And Us Chickens.
Two old sayings.
High crimes and low cunning,
One must refuse. Easy, so far.

Yet a clutch of events
hatches in the world at large
leaving a rash, a stain, an infection, a pandemic.

and here is all of section 18:

Stet atrocity
Stet astonishing events fast come ordinary
Stet particular Presidents

Stet plum of smoke
Stet people burn

With an increase of allusions and referents.

Draft 85 is "mapped loosely on, thinks about, and responds to" George Oppen's masterful 1968 work, "Of Being Numerous." There are citations (marked as quotations from Oppen) and allusions to Oppen and variations around keywords in Oppen's sections.

[] Rachel's PennSound page.

[] Rachel on Virginia Woolf at the October 2000 "nine contemporary poets read themselves through modernism" event.