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Procedural Elegies/Western Civ Cont'd/

af Joan Retallack

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Poetry. "At the beginning of her astounding new book, Joan Retallack posts a warning from Immanuel Kant 'against arguing directly from the logical possibility of concepts to the real possibility of things.' It seems to me that Retallack has succeeded brilliantly by flouting Kant's injunction. 'The real possibility of things' shimmers and sings on every page of PROCEDURAL ELEGIES, creating a living entity through means that remain as mysterious as they are vital"—John Ashbery.… (mere)
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Retallack refers to her poetry as procedural, Newlipo (i.e., beyond or other than Oulipo). Best explained by quoting the poet's own Source Notes. For example, she describes her procedure for writing one of the more powerful poems in the collection, "AID/I/SAPPEARANCE" as follows: "The disappearance moves through the letters of the alphabet (and the source text) in this way: Beginning with letters AIDS, it spreads to adjoining letters BHJCERT, to LPV, to MOW, to NX, to Y.// Part of the text in the first stanza is from "The Atomic Theory and the Fundamental Principles underlying the Description of Nature" in The Philosophical Writings of Niels Bohr, Volume I, Atomic Theory and the Description of Nature . . . ." Another example, for "Not a Cage": "This poem is composed from beginnings and endings of books I was culling from my library in the Fall of 1990." Although the procedures may seem excruciatingly contrived, the poems are most often fresh and lively. Other favorites: "Existence Is An Attribute," "Steinzas in Meditation," and "Witt & Stein." I am deeply indebted to Retallack for introducing me to her neologism "palimpsestina," which I have shamelessly borrowed for the title of one of my own poems. Also, for "steinza," which I almost don't dare steal. Lots of serious fun to be had here. ( )
  Paulagraph | May 25, 2014 |
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Poetry. "At the beginning of her astounding new book, Joan Retallack posts a warning from Immanuel Kant 'against arguing directly from the logical possibility of concepts to the real possibility of things.' It seems to me that Retallack has succeeded brilliantly by flouting Kant's injunction. 'The real possibility of things' shimmers and sings on every page of PROCEDURAL ELEGIES, creating a living entity through means that remain as mysterious as they are vital"—John Ashbery.

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