Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Thingness: A Little Leslie Scalapino

I've been reading an earlier series by Leslie Scalapino, hmmmm. I'm finding myself falling into her work more and more, after a brief hiatus. There is something quite tangible about this writing, where I can simultaneously relate to the emotion in the work while at the same time be strangely freed of its inherent heat. She utilizes decidedly biological symbols in this series (the water lily, the fish, and, like George Oppen, the anemone) that act to objectify and thus cool narratives that arise from “extreme” emotional or socio-economic states.

Or, as in covering a contortionist with a blanket, allow one to see the shape discarded of the uncomfortable and unflattering tangle of the body.

The narratives are folded. I read first the happening - say, of searching frantically for someone in a park at night - and then the symbolic overlay brings me away from the intensity of the first-hand experience. With Scalapino often acting as a conduit of another's reflection on an historical (personal) action, there is a further distancing of the narrative by degrees, further cooling it, giving it a certain solidity, tangibility, and "thingness."

It is a hunk of obsidian.

The series is available via the linked site above, the Electronic Poetry Center at Buffalo.

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