Monday, March 08, 2010

On Jane Sprague's The Port of Los Angeles (@ Harriet)


In the first part of Sprague’s book she tells a story. She sings herself, “Citizen Jane,” in conveyance (her family’s move from Upstate New York to Southern California), and in doing so speaks both of personal loss—a loss of feeling rooted in a place—and about conveyances far exceeding herself—“ourselves perfectly pitched at the edge of globalism.” (23) Global or international economic exchange is represented by the ports of which Sprague also sings (“container / as the staple / vessel of modernity” [28]). The ports encompass a local ecology of dockworkers and natural phenomena, drug and sexual trafficking, goods transported via shipping containers and other modes of transport. They are also the backdrop for the United States’ over-consumption; its consumption of world products and commodities at the expense of others within an international community—their labor power, their health/wealth, the security of their families and communities. “ownership or loss / and ‘no bordered sense of that’ / I do not know how we were to be (we) unbordered.” (32) Irresponsible consumption and waste as a result of exception.

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