Sunday, May 15, 2011

Marthe Reed, On Reading

"There is reading and then there is reading. To escape—stress, overwork, crazy life—reading a certain kind of novel takes me out, away, elsewhere. The fruits of sheer pleasure: Terry Prachett’s mad, parodic Disc World, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice: 'You could not have made me the offer of your hand in any possible way that would have tempted me to accept it….From the very beginning, from the first moment I may almost say, of my acquaintance with you, your manners, impressing me with the fullest belief of your arrogance, your conceit, and your selfish disdain of the feelings of others, were such as to form that ground-work of disapprobation, on which succeeding events have built so immoveable a dislike; and I had not known you a month before I felt that you were the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed on to marry.' Elizabeth’s fiercely righteous indignation, Austen’s glorious syntax, extending and extensive, the commas stringing together clauses, its delicious formality—disapprobation!

To read, rather, not seeking escape but a way into the words themselves, I want stillness all around me, a quietness into which the language enters slowly, shifting its way through conscious and unconscious, unfolding its sinuousity, its stutters, its musics: 'If the window was an assertion of injustice nonetheless / If a listener is uncertain                 (face the glass) / If the interior is a preoccupation / If there are events but first and last are meaningless' (Laura Mullen’s Dark Archive) – the language drawing me wandering/wondering into the questions and possibles it proposes.

Or, Will Alexander’s Compression and Purity:

The horizon scrawls itself as interior distillation
as interminate terminology
as floating ocular ravine

it remains
a parallel radiophony
a flashing sun in phantom waters
being aquatic in exhaustive sonar kingdoms

like exhausted solar feathers
parallel and subsumed

The images, always already other, reintroduce me to the world I inhabit – 'floating ocular ravine…like exhausted solar feathers.' Reading is an occasion, insists on activity or response. Requires a notebook, a writing implement, a place in which to sprawl with books open, lines spooling about me, sounds catching in my ears, setting my hand in motion. Reading initiates writing, becomes writing, unstops the pandoric box. Takes me into language."

Marthe Reed has published two books, Tender Box, A Wunderkammer (Lavender Ink) and Gaze (Black Radish Books), as well as three chapbooks, (em)bodied bliss and zaum alliterations, and post*cards (a collaboration with j hastain), all in conjunction with the Dusie Kollektiv Series. Her poetry has appeared in New American Writing, Golden Handcuffs Review, New Orleans Review, HOW2, MiPoesias, Exquisite Corpse, and Fairy Tale Review. She directs the Creative Writing Program at the University of Louisiana, Lafayette. Visit her website here and visit Nous-zot Press here.}

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