Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Eleni Stecopoulos' VISCERAL POETICS for PRE-ORDER

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ELENI STECOPOULOS’ VISCERAL POETICS

FOR PRE-ORDER

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An inquiry into the languages of bodies and the bodies of languages, Eleni Stecopoulos’ Visceral Poetics enacts literary scholarship as somatic practice. Opening new directions in poetry and poetics as well as literature and medicine, Stecopoulos argues for the body’s poetic agency, for a criticism viscerally attuned to the treatments of language, and for a different understanding of the therapeutic potency of art.

Visceral Poetics articulates a remarkable field of correspondences between the formal and linguistic techniques of modern writers and the modalities and diagnostic techniques of holistic medicines. Focusing on works by Antonin Artaud and Paul Metcalf that connect voyage to somatic transformation, Stecopoulos illuminates a history of quests to heal what she calls “the chronic syndrome of the West.” Stecopoulos also enlists her own experiences with medicine in a dialogue between treating texts and treating one’s body. Blending virtuosic close readings, performative writing of the author’s encounters with diverse healing systems, interdisciplinary research, and poetry, Visceral Poetics gives us a body that can “overwrite discourses of pathology with currents of empathy.”

In new readings of some of the most opaque elements of Artaud’s oeuvre, Stecopoulos explores his collaboration with pain and use of energetic principles derived from modalities like homeopathy and acupuncture. She revisits the poetry and “translation therapy” of Artaud’s asylum years, understanding his exoticism as a technology of healing through world languages. Stecopoulos animates the complicated role of Artaud’s multiethnic background and ties his translations to histories of linguistic imagination situated in colonial encounter and nationalist and imperialist strategies. Visceral Poetics also includes one of the few sustained meditations on Metcalf’s documentary narrative Genoa: A Telling of Wonders, a hybrid text that becomes a navigation of Western disease and the imperial conceptions to which American letters bear witness.

A critique both of the ways institutions disembody us and the primitivism that persists in heterodox seeking, Visceral Poetics undertakes a profound journey through language and energy, kinship and estrangement. It joins the tradition of American poets’ scholarship exemplified by Charles Olson’s Call Me Ishmael and Susan Howe’s The Birth-mark, yet does something uniquely its own—a grand refusal of the division between who feels and who interprets.

Stecopoulos’s book is the second in ON Contemporary Practice’s Monograph Series, which features extensive essays and collections by single authors as well as collections by multiple authors regarding discourses in contemporary poetics.

PRAISE FOR VISCERAL POETICS

Eleni Stecopoulos is singularly aware of a healing power in poetry that touches the most obscure depths of our carnal existence. She seeks to uncover “how the body in its opaque poetry can be homeopathically treated by poetry—as aesthetic, not anaesthetic, therapy.” Eleni Stecopoulos’s researches open an important field for investigation and practice: the healing force of language, of poetry.

-         Alphonso Lingis

Searching in real time, thinking/feeling as writing, this tour de force of authentic scholarship reaches far back to the matrix of writing/embodiment at the crux of human consciousness, far forward into a modernism (Artaud, Metcalf) that explores the edges of such embodied writing, and in all directions as Stecopoulos’s every insight emerges from and remains immersed in a surround of the immediately personal. This is a lyrical study of great depth, an epic poem of experiential erudition.

-         Maria Damon

Eleni  Stecopoulos’s brilliantly provocative, syncretic manifesto identifies idiopathic disease with ideolectical poetics, pathology with anomaly – the flesh of the text and the text of the flesh – bringing home the liberatory potential for visceral readings of the unintelligible. For Stecopoulos, diagnosis is a practice of aesthetic translation and poetry a quest for knowledge outside the disabling strictures of Western rationalism. Written in lyric bursts of telegraphic intensity, Stecopoulos follows her guides, Artaud and Metcalf, through veils of suffering in order to repossess, from the jaws of evisceration, her own life – and ours.

-         Charles Bernstein

In a thick rich book of Artaudian trickster moves, Eleni Stecopoulos performs healing rituals upon medical practices and cultural prescriptions, writing toward her own healing process, with opacity as sustaining wayfarer and shield against early collapse. Disease emerges as narrative symptom for disconnect, and language becomes subtle homeopathy, weaves a new myth, for suffering writers and suffering war-torn worlds, in a visceral poetics based on Artaud’s asylum writings: “a rhythm of exorcism against the drying out of opium by conspiracies and consecrations” (Artaud, Selected Writings).

-         Petra Kuppers

Experience what “radiates from a text,” “the gravity at the core of theater” in this long awaited critical work from Eleni Stecopoulos, the genesis of her Poetics of Healing—a curated series of stages in which these ideas are enacted and the isolated patient finds place in a complicated communal as both are changed. Placing the psychic reading of the body that refuses with will next to the reading of poetries claimed unreadable, she makes a document of vital forms for a new kind of scholarship, for a new and ancient kind of person or poet one and the same in the hopes that they won’t be re-swallowed by the dominant but will find their own breath. A breath that will resist and resist singularity and in the failures or blocks, the resetting, find the choral-tragic—through a different kind of reading/witnessing. The violences of a larger social body made visible though a syncope pressing right up against poetry.  In this epic lyric, everything and nothing at once.  In “a form that holds, rather than explains”—the mystery of how this beautiful important project came to be.

-         Melissa Buzzeo

The central question of Visceral Poetics is how to be. How to be a body. How to be a body in pain, a body not in pain. How to be a thinker, a scholar, a writer about literary works. How to be a poem too. It is unusual for a piece of literary criticism to take on such weighty questions. And Eleni Stecopoulos gives us no easy answers as she consults various forms of literatures and healing, questioning all of them and her relationship to them too. And as she does this she writes a book that is beautiful and moving, a life’s work dedicated to the work of living.

-         Juliana Spahr


Monday, August 10, 2015

Headless VIII

--for Nina Simone

"The abstract nakedness of being nothing but human"
--Hannah Arendt quoted in Saidiya Hartman's Lose Your Mother

Who gave Bach a reason
The gift of counterpoint and the gift of death
The gift of voice…  Young, Gifted, and Black
Like when she broke her voice
Lost an octave, now that is what I call
Anger
Now that is what I call
Sublime anger
Because you could die like an animal down here/there
Where there is no nativity across that ocean
Only natal alienation
Only declensions of song
The songs you sing out-of-joint
With the acknowledged world
The time it kept never given back
What gave you a reason
To live
Song it is this cusp
It is this verging
On event when
It isn't event itself --
The bare life of the voice
The sacred men of rights
The name never given back
Or if given back, still always given
Crossing the previous ocean again
So your song is undying
Which is to say, you die so that song
May live
Is that what freedom meant
The morning they were no longer slaves
Having to think with the voice
To be a voice and nothing more
To have song strip you bare
To not perform
What it means to be so open
What it means to make an opening
What it means to be in the open
What it means to have to open
After all these years.





Mercy

--after Marcus Rediker

Caring for their captors
Like capital wasn't

Living in us the fictive
Kinship of these ships

Ethnogenesis and a way
Forgiveness has of escaping

With our freedom -- only
Those women could know

On the docks this allyship
Of survivors, heroism

Of their mercy how
The civilly dead care

For the civilly dead --
Though skin made a

Difference, though there
Was once the hold they

Sung this song for
The End of the world.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Hiroshima-Nagasaki feature (essay)

HIROSHIMA, AUGUST 6, 1945 // NAGASAKI, AUGUST 9, 1945—the August 2015 issue of Evening Will Come (The Volta), feat. correspondence, drawings, essays, interactive erasures, journal entries, music, photography, poems, remembrances, sculptures, songs, stories, talks, and translations, by Etel Adnan, Jeffrey Angles, Roland Barthes, Daniel Borzutzky, David Buuck, Don Mee Choi, Dot Devota, Thom Donovan, Rokusuke Ei, April Naoko Heck, Brenda Iijima, Hiromi Ito, Joy Division, Yukiyo Kawano, Erika Kobayashi, Eve Andrée Laramée, Kenji C. Liu, Kyo Maclear, Wong May, John Melillo, Collier Nogues, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Tomoe Otsuki, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Brandon Shimoda, Karen McAlister Shimoda, elin o'Hara slavick, Hiroshi Sunairi, Itaru Takahara, Roberto Tejada, Jalal Toufic, Hannah Weiner, Elizabeth Willis, Kenji Yanobe, Yasuhiro Yotsumoto, and Raúl Zurita. Photograph (above) by Shōmei Tōmatsu. Designed by Afton Wilky.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Headless VII

(Addendum)

Or is it a march
Not for civil rights
But of the socially dead
Charged to sing
For whose pleasure
Does the caged

What the phantom
Limb weighs
How it sounds  
The studium
Of their un-
(re)dressed
Wounds?

Is it a march
For the “right to 
obscurity” (E. Glissant)
For the (un)dead to sound
Like the (un)dead where:


“it is the very incomplete, cut-off, broken, and incomprehensible nature of the aural, written, and visual remainders of the socially and civilly dead that qualify their semantic depth and social urgency, and that signal the counter-historical, counter-epistemological, and counter-pedagogical value of their muzzled and submerged transmissions from the many unmarked graves of American racial genocide"? (Dennis Childs)

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Headless VI

Imagining all your ghostfaces
Like they are walking down the national mall
A million ghostface march
Moaning until
Their subtones shake every edifice
Until there is recognition
However invisibly
Until there is representation
However poorly
Imagining a procession of them
Faces covered in blood
And piss and shit and mimetic stubble
Receding into the photographic distance
Like in Piper’s voter booths
Their light boxes like an anti-window
To look out on the nation
To observe the march not of progress
But of something else
Of the socially dead
With their sad eyes and their non-existent chins
With their invisible ears
Like we weren’t even supposed to see them
Our view being obstructed by
The determinate negation of its frame.


Friday, June 26, 2015

Headless V

--for Rit Premnath
  
Measured by no stick
No witness but the petals
Prepared in water
Ringing their now time now
Their rose rim of the wound
Your body is
But is it art
What it structures
And what you can’t control
Contingent upon
Their violence?

Measureless like no stick leans
Like your art
Of sticks measures no body
This betrays a body somewhere structuring
The violence that controls us
Where there is only the rose
The substitutable petals
His body
Could be taken for yours

The car slows
Asks if you are looking for work
There is no refusal left
To this corpse
But to sell flowers
There is no refusal left
To this flesh
But to lay down
And sleep
To withdraw
Into that emptiness
That void of labor power

What recognition
Exceeds these flowers
Your measureless body exhibited
On a roadside or sidewalk somewhere
Your resemblance to the one
This violence is structured by
Epidermally
We keep falling but
He can’t even fall
This one
Born like an angel in no time
Withdrawn where sleep
Gives shape to refusal

Where there is a difference
Between carrying
A stick and carrying
Flowers
Where there is an art
Of mis/recognition
Of the bodies we can’t
Be substituted for.




Monday, June 22, 2015

Headless I

Am I an Afro-melancholic
You ask,
Yes, you are
But a joyous one
Living across the street
From a Confederate cemetery
No, actually, 
I think you are more like 
An Afro-goth
Shedding these shitty
Little tears on tin foil
Or are they stubble
Is this blood splatter
This grimace saying do
I matter
I will chop your head off
My hustler, my semblable, my hommie
Whose black frame frames whiteness
There is a blankness where the eyes should have been
Where the mouth should have been there is only
Infinite sadness 
Of the blood stained gate
There is witness
You can’t profile a ghost
If that’s what this is about
Or i.d. the light
When all you see is sunlight swallowed whole
Where there is no nose
Where nobody knows nobody
Hope crinkled
It reflected
All and nothing back
Told you about spirit and image.