The seat of the soul is where the inner world and the outer world meet. Where they overlap, it is in every point of the overlap. - Novalis

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Considering how exaggerated music is by Leslie Scalapino, North Point Press, 1982.

"That light I like so much in Leslie Scalapino's poems, which seems to derive from her very quiet, zany, spooky, joyous word - love ... it's that light that gives me the feeling of being in the right place when I'm reading her poems. It's like suddenly remembering, oh, that's right, this is where I wanted to be." - Ted Berrigen

It's really far too soon to tell, but this could be another title for my "Ten Books" list because it introduced me to Scalapino. In a late piece in Jacket 40, "Disbelief", she discusses some of her early work included in this volume. Much of this book is collected in Its go in horizontal (Selected Poems, 1974-2006. University of California Press, 2008) which I now have in my hands. It seems better to have the entire sequences as they appear in the original volume. Still this selection is indispensable. Fanny Howe says of it:

“Leslie Scalapino is one who is one. A solitary, an original. Hers is a religious poetry in the tradition of Edward Thomas and Emily Dickinson, of the Hindu Vedas and Do-Gen. What other way could there be for someone with a mind so electric, independent and restless except out into the space-time conundrum? Her instrument (for she is also a soul-scientist) is a light beam held by hand in the form of a pen. Because she is thoroughly modern, every moment of experience is interrupted and unstable, accompanied by introspection and sidelong glimpses at the social. The poet here is a horrified witness, a perpetual child, a sexually alert female who keeps looking back to believe what she has seen. I read these poems as they are given: line-by-line, in flashes, and then I return to read each one again. This is a superb and important contribution to philosophy, theology, psychology, and the science of knowing. To have the selection here now, to be able to see the whole trajectory in one volume, is to experience a revolutionary moment.”—Fanny Howe

I rather expect that this is not the last time I will speak about Scalapino's work. I am stunned.

Twin Suns - George Crumb

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