My Susan Howe

ODuring the 1980s I wanted to transplant words onto paper with soil sticking to their roots . . .

—Susan Howe

I was introduced to the work of Susan Howe through a MOOC. Not just any MOOC, mind you, but the fabled “ModPo” (“Modern and Contemporary American Poetry” is its name in full). Book after book of and about poetry, one by Howe included, attached to my bookshelves like iron filings to a magnet. I regarded the growing mass of books, sometimes with longing, other times with dread.

There they remained until ModPo concluded, leaving a wild cacophony of new poetry ringing in my head. Where on earth was I to start with all these books? I knew the “right” thing was to choose a book of poetry, not about it, but I went ahead and chose a book of essays: The Sound of Poetry/The Poetry of Sound.

In the book, I fell upon an essay by Susan Howe. “On May 17, 1676,” Howe begins,

the Reverend Hope Atherton and Steven Williams, along with 160 members of a local militia, marched out into nature from Hatfield, Massachusetts, on a botched expedition against neighboring Sqakeag, Nipmunk, Pokumtuck, and Mahican tribes before the land was subdued. [Sound]

Howe KWH howe24-1 KWH_edited-1 (577x429)I knew Howe to be a “language” poet, a species of poetry particularly rich and strange. Yet here she was writing straightforwardly about early American history, using ordinary tools of facts, places, and names. I entered the dream-world of my own decades-old journeys into the annals of that time, of my delight upon learning, from a book I still own, that the nation’s Capitol had been built on a mosquito-laden swamp. A book now likely out of print and probably discredited, but as an early voyage into myth-exploding, it remains my myth.

Howe found Hope Atherton lying in the margins of history, in “George Sheldon’s A History of Deerfield, Massachusetts, published in 1895 by the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association.” [Sound] The subtitle of the volume in which the incidents Howe cites appears is “The Times when the People by Whom it was Settled, Unsettled and Resettled, Volume 1.”

The history is itself settled, unsettled, and resettled, formed more by accident than by design. The English won the first round of the Falls Fight, as it came to be known, but the Indians rallied their neighbors and pursued the English, who ran out of ammunition and had to retreat. Atherton, a minister who’d accompanied the troops, and several soldiers were separated from the rest. Atherton survived and ultimately found his way home, though his own account of his deliverance from harm was not generally believed.

Howe’s essay turns toward a paean to libraries, where

In the dim light of narrowly spaced overshadowing shelves I felt the spiritual and solitary freedom of an inexorable order only chance creates. Quiet articulates poetry. These Lethean tributaries of lost sentiments and found philosophies had a life-giving effect on the process of my writing. [Sound]

“True wildness,” Howe writes, “is like true gold; it will bear the trial of Dewey Decimal.” [Sound]

I recalled my own excursions into the stacks at Regenstein, the mingled scents of brittle paper, dust, and air, the sounds of turning pages, a chair scraped back, the copier’s whir. I sat at a table piled high with magazines from the 19th and early 20th centuries; I searched through fragments about stenographers and typists, hoping to fashion a coherent whole. The task was a chimera, though, for narrative order is a construct imposed on facts, just as a library’s call numbers are imposed on books.

In choosing her texts, Howe unravels constructions imposed by traditional narrative to set words free:

I wanted to transplant words onto paper with soil sticking to their roots—to go to meet a narrative’s fate by immediate access to its concrete totality of singular interjections, crucified spellings, abbreviations, irrational apprehensions, collective identities, palavers, kicks, cordials, comforts. I wanted jerky and tedious details to oratorically bloom and bear fruit as if they had been set at liberty or ransomed by angels. [Sound]

True to her word, the opening lines of Articulation of Sound Forms in Time appear as an inscription that blooms and bears its fruit in sound:

from seaweed said nor repossess rest
scape esaid

Marjorie Perloff writes,

From seaweed said: the story to be told here, if not quite “Spelt from Sybil’s Leaves” (Hopkins), evidently consists of fragments shored from the ocean of our American subconscious . . . . We know from this introduction that an attempt will be made to “repossess” something lost, something primordial. The sound structure of the passage, with its slant rhyme of sea/weed and repossess/rest, its consonance of weed/said/esaid, and its alliteration of s‘s (nine out of forty-one characters) and assonance of e‘s and o‘s, enacts a ritual of repossession we can hear and see. And so small are the individual morphemes—from, said, scape, esaid—that we process them one by one, with difficulty. This “saying” “from seaweed” will evidently not be easy.

Howe writes of her first experience of “the joy of possessing a green card that allowed me to enter the stacks of a major collection of books.” [Sound] I’ve long since lost my green card to Regenstein and I am, in any event, geographically displaced, but I found Sheldon’s volume by other means.

The volume bears the imprint of lost times. Sheldon gathers fragments and arrays them with his own connecting threads.

Of the night before the English attack: “Silence like that of death brooded over the encampment by the river, save for the sullen roar of the cataract beyond. With ears strained to catch any note of alarm, the English waited impatiently the laggard light . . .” [156]

Of the retreat: “The line of retreat being through a dense forest, the fleet Indians had the advantage of the mounted fugitives. They hung like a moving cloud on flank and rear . . .” [158]

He includes narratives of Atherton and others. One recounts the escape of Jonathan Wells, who, like Atherton, became separated from the other troops:

In Deerfield Meadows he found some horses’ bones, from which he got away some small matter; found two rotted beans in ye meadows where ye indians had thrashed yr beans, & two blew birds’ eggs, wch was all ye provision he had till he got home. He got up to Dfd town plat before dark, Saturday, but ye town was burned before & no inhabitants, so he kept along. [165]

Howe draws from the narratives to compose her poem, but rather than construct another layer of narrative, she deconstructs existing ones to locate the authentic essence of lost and fragmentary worlds:

Two blew bird eggs plat
Habitants before dark
Little way went mistook awake
abt again Clay Gully
espied bounds to leop over
Selah cithera Opynne be
5 rails high houselot Cow
Kinsmen I pray you hasten
Furious Nipnet Ninep Ninap
little Pansett fence with ditch
Clear stumps grubbing ploughing
Clearing the land

Several serious scholars emerged from among my university classmates. I didn’t lean that way, but I loved the stacks. I loved hunkering down among “primary source” materials and dreaming my own dreams. On reading Howe, I want nothing more than the chance to enter the “dim light of narrowly spaced overshadowing shelves”—before they, too, disappear—and listen afresh to soil-laden words.

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Listening List

Susan Howe talks about “wild libraries” with Al Filreis at Kelly Writers House.

Selections for solo piano by American Composers John Adams and William Duckworth, and, additionally, on Spotify, music for saxophone quartet by Martin Bresnick:

For a listening list on Spotify, click on My Susan Howe.

John Adams, Phrygian Gates

William Duckworth, The Time Curve Prelude No. 1

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Additional Information

Al Filreis (in the video with Howe), Kelly Professor of English at UPenn, is the mastermind behind ModPo. Enrollment is now open for ModPo 2013. For more information, click here. (For those unfamiliar with the term MOOC, it stands for “massive open online course.” For a brief article on what makes for a successful MOOC, using ModPo as an example, click here.)

For more audio discussions with and readings by Susan Howe, click here. To hear Susan Howe read Articulation of Sound Forms in Time, click here. (The version of Articulation in the reading is not the same as that in Singularities.)

For several essays about Articulation of Sound Forms in Time, including Perloff’s, click here.

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Credits

The image of Susan Howe is by Kelly Writers House and may be found here. The remaining images in the post are my photographs. All but one are of pages from Howe’s book Singularities (link below). The quotations at the head of the post and indicated by [Sound] in the post are from The Sound of Poetry /The Poetry of Sound, edited by Marjorie Perloff and Craig Dworkin, which may be found here. The quotation from Marjorie Perloff is from Perloff, Marjorie, Poetic License: Essays on Modernist and Postmodernist Lyric, Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1990, and may be found here. The quotations from Sheldon’s A History of Deerfield, Massachusetts, v.1, may be found here. (The quotation from the Wells narrative should contain superscript in various places, but I was not able to duplicate it.) The quotations beginning “from seaweed,” “two blew bird eggs,” and “Knee to intellect,” are from Howe’s poem Articulation of Sound Forms in Time in her book Singularities, which may be found here.

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45 thoughts on “My Susan Howe

      1. peculiaritiesandreticences

        Be glad to….

        I have to confess that my reaction is an emotional one, really. Your recounting of Howe’s descriptions in the stacks (as well as your own in the stacks of Regenstein) brought me back to wandering the stacks at the University of Illinois 20 years ago. It is sad, wistful feeling, actually.. I didn’t get to U of I until graduate school (I went to a very small liberal arts college, and at the moment I can’t remember ever going in the library there) and I have to admit that my humanities education was sorely lacking (my education was way too heavy in science and math). I was interested in and wanted to study the humanities, but was very strongly discouraged from doing so. (For example, I took an applied music performance course my first year of undergraduate, and was told in no uncertain terms by my adviser to “get rid of that goddamn music class.”) I came to believe that even though I was an intelligent student, I would never get anything out of reading poetry or literature, or doing anything creative for that matter. Virtually everything I know about the humanities is self-taught (including music- I am self-taught at each of the instruments I play), with the obvious exception of Modpo.

        I took Modpo for the very conscious reason that I could no longer stomach feeling so out to sea with poetry and literature. I felt like it was a shame that I was so limited there. Reading that first poem (Emily Dickinson’s “A House of Possibility,” you’ll recall) left me feeling lost- like I had no toehold to grab on to. I seriously considered forgetting about the whole thing.

        Back to the stacks- 20 years ago I did my time in the stacks, pulling very outdated literature (career choice literature, which was from the 1950’s and reflected white male single-household breadwinners, and therefore didn’t reflect contemporary reality) in a vain attempt to complete a master’s thesis that never got off the ground. At the time it was a very lonely, defeating experience.

        What I wouldn’t give at this point in my life to have the opportunity to wander the stacks again! – this time not for outdated social science papers but for the kind of magic you and Susan Howe found. I do what I can with what I’ve got. I even talked with Al about the possibility for pursuing an MFA. His honest advice (with which I have to reluctantly agree): for where in I am in my life, don’t do it. Read as much as you can and write as much as you can.

        I will be back in Modpo next year. I’ve already re-registered. There’s a lot I need to cover that I haven’t yet. Al even offered to have me be a community TA, which I would be honored to do if it happens. Not sure I’m ready for it, but I’ve taught classes with less background and learned the material very well that way!

        Thanks for hearing me out. Hope it wasn’t too personal.

        By the way, when I went down to Florida for my father-in-law’s funeral I started reading _My Emily Dickinson._ I’ve gotten sidetracked by too many other things going on- I hate when work gets in the way- but I will be getting back to it soon.

        1. Susan Scheid Post author

          Mark: Wow! This is beautiful, and beautifully stated. I found myself going yes, yes, I recognize that, at so many points. But most of all, I just want to sit here and savor what you’ve set down. I have also re-upped for ModPo, this time hoping to go for depth in a few things, and not try to keep up with the great breadth of it, though I’m enormously grateful to have had that experience the first time around. You’d be wonderful as a community TA. I’m not surprised at all that Al thought of you for that.

          Back to Howe: I know how hard it is to get to things-witness how long it took me to get to Howe at all–and I don’t have anywhere the reasons that you do! I think you’ll find My Emily Dickinson riveting. Finding time is all, though, isn’t it?

          1. peculiaritiesandreticences

            Ain’t that the truth! My flights weren’t nearly long enough. Don’t take long to get from Raleigh to Tampa on an A320.

            Thank you for the kind words. I don’t want to sound like I’m fishing for compliments- I sincerely am not- but I find it a real psychological and emotional challenge to be a beginner at this and other disciplines which are important to me. It’s madness trying to do them all at once- but I ain’t getting any younger.

  1. blueskiescloudydays.blogspot.com

    I hear ModPo is starting up again in September.
    I’ll be back to read again about Susan Howe.

  2. Mark Kerstetter

    Howe seems tough to get a handle on right away. I’m intrigued by her vision of discursive wildness, and she seems to suggest that it survives within the stacks of the library itself, always there to welcome a wanderer. I don’t think libraries will go away any time soon. They will become more precious with time, as the world continues to race toward digital archives.

    By the way, speaking of solo piano music, are you familiar with Robert Helps? I have a CD of his music called ‘Shall We Dance’ that I love.

    1. Susan Scheid Post author

      I’m very taken with Howe’s preoccupations. I hope you’ll give your thoughts at some point about what she’s doing poetically. Her essay in Sounds is a little gem, not least because of her meditation on libraries. I hope you’re right that libraries won’t go away anytime soon. But they are changing, as they must. Access to stacks of major research libraries is already rare (Howe talks about this in the video with Al and in the essay). Digitization, of course, will give so much more access than there ever was (the Dickinson archive going online this fall, for example)–that’s how I was able to get hold of the Sheldon text noted here. But my heart will always be with books, the real thing.

  3. T.

    I have yet to wade through all the books I’ve collected during ModPo, too! Will you be joining the second run of ModPo?

    1. Susan Scheid Post author

      Nice to “see” you, T! Many books yet await me, too, though I’m very pleased to have spent time with Howe and more to come. For one, I want to re-read My Emily Dickinson. I’m so please to have been introduced to that book! Have you read it yet? Would love your thoughts.

      1. T.

        It’s in my to-read list, and would love to talk to you about it once am done (might take awhile though before I can get to it). I have enrolled for ModPo again, with the same goal of going more in-depth, this time with a focus on discussions. When I read that Wallace Stevens was going to be a part of the course, I thought of you :) And oh, Al has also invited me to be a community TA and I accepted. Was really honoured about that, and looking forward to September. Wouldn’t it be fun if a lot of us are there again?

        1. Susan Scheid Post author

          That is great news! As for WS, Al did write, when I first wrote the “wistful” post, that he thought he would be able to include him this time round. Though I now have a better understanding of why WS didn’t fit, I was, as you can imagine, really pleased he found a way. That you will be a TA, and perhaps Mark S. as well, that’s stupendous!

  4. peculiaritiesandreticences

    Susan, on another note, I thought I’d give you a heads up… I am in another Coursera course that starts tomorrow in digital music and sound design. Modpo it ain’t but so far it’s pretty interesting- and not too demanding. I thought you might have an interest in it.

  5. Elizabeth Evans

    The selections from Howe are very evocoative… they reminded me of an entry in a family genealogy, about a distant ancestress on my mother’s side who was kidnapped during the French & Indian wars and carried off to Canada, where she staunchly refused to convert to Catholicism, until she was eventually returned to her family.

    Also… any discussion of wildness/wilderness makes me think of Gary Snyder’s collection of essays “The Practice of the Wild,” about our relationship with wilderness, a connection deeper and more profound than we realize. He points out, for instance, that in the older sections of San Francisco, people are still living in ancient forest, in the homes crafted from those long-fallen trees.

    1. Jane and Lance Hattatt

      Hello Susan:
      You present a most fascinating insight into the work of Susan Howe, sadly previously unknown to us. What you quote here conveys a very real picture of early America and how, to an extent, it connects with our own times.

      1. Susan Scheid Post author

        Jane & Lance: I have always enjoyed discovery of these by-ways of history. (It’s one of the reasons I was so taken with Magris’ Danube.) I am in the city now and found the book I mention in the post about the early years of Washington DC. Here is a quote: “A group of congressmen returning from a dinner party . . . got lost and spent until daybreak in their carriage weaving through bogs and gullies in search of Capitol Hill, only a mile away.” I find this sort of thing irresistible.

    2. Susan Scheid Post author

      Elizabeth: Evocative, I so agree. I still can’t really fathom how she does it, but it is as if by stripping the narrative away and getting down to words and sounds, we’re transported to another place and time.

      Quite the story from your family archives! Worth a poem cycle, for sure. Though I’ve read only a little of Snyder, I am always struck by his sense of the wild. Fascinating about SF. I wouldn’t have thought there was any ancient forest left there.

  6. angela

    Susan, my dear, this looks like a fabulous post! It’s now the witching hour, but you are bookmarked so I may savor later this week! As a library worker, I’m terribly intrigued by what she has to say about libraryland. Cheers ~ a

      1. Susan Scheid Post author

        Only small community libraries where I am, too-though I’m happy they are there, particularly now that the whole Hudson Valley is linked up so I can order up from anywhere in the system. (When I went in for Beckett on Proust, the librarian joked that I should be able to renew it endlessly, as she doubted there would be much demand. lucky for me, but more’s the pity, too.) I do get down to NYC every so often, so have now outfitted myself with a city library card (I learned any state resident can get one, which is great). Not long ago spent some quality time with the score to Qigang Chen’s Reflet d’un temps disparu. Even though my ability to read a score is very limited, I had a wonderful time. Been waiting now since forever for Shostakovich’s 4th to come in. I think that one must be lost altogether, or I’d have heard by now. I do wish I were closer by, though. It’s a palaver to arrange a visit when what you want has to be pulled from storage.

        1. peculiaritiesandreticences

          I don’t think my local librarian has heard of Proust. (In fairness, I’ve never read him). It’s only a slight exaggeration to say that one of my prize possessions is an edition of the scores to all of Beethoven’s piano concertos (I picked it up on the cheap when Borders was liquidating).

    1. Susan Scheid Post author

      Howe on the subject of libraries is something to savor, as she does them. The essay in Sounds is wonderful on that (FYI, the same essay is the opening narrative to her book “Souls of the Labadie Tract.”) I have yet to get to that book, but here’s the opening poem, as a teaser:

      Indifferent truth and trust
      am in you and of you air
      utterance blindness of you

      That we are come to that
      Between us here to know
      Things in the perfect way

      1. angela

        I thought it fascinating about her recall as a little girl waiting for her father. I also dug how she vocalized the barriers that academic libraries uphold to prevent readers from any walk of life to check out. Ranganathan would say that is against the 5 laws. Will add her book to my forever growing wish list, Susan!

        As an aside, I’m the Interlibrary person for our small burb library. I loaned a book to NYC library system not too long ago. It made me smile – what they heck would the vast NYC system need from a little ole midwestern library?! I cannot remember what it was now!!

        1. Susan Scheid Post author

          Angela: An extra helping of blessings on your head for your role as an interlibrary librarian! I’m not altogether surprised that your system might have had a book the NYPL lacked! During ModPo, I learned that even big systems like this can’t be complete, when I searched for Filreis’s book Wallace Stevens and the Actual World. The library did have a copy, but a misprint with 10 crucial pages missing! (Fascinating piece of literary history, BTW. I ultimately bought the book. not easy to find that, either!)

  7. David

    Indeed, no skimreading on this one – I’ll be back to chew over a writer whose work is new to me but don’t want to ignore. What’s a MOOC, though? And Is that last photo really yours? A prizewinner.

    1. Susan Scheid Post author

      David: Just wanted to jump in to answer your questions: yes, the last photo is mine, out our hallway portal window (those walls aren’t really black, it’s just the exposure). As for “MOOC,” sorry–they’re so much in the news here, I didn’t think! It stands for “massive open online course.” Under “additional information,” I’ve now included a link to a short article that discusses ModPo and another one that gives a sense of what makes for a good MOOC (they are not all created equal). ModPo was excellent and lots of fun. Enjoy chewing!

      1. David

        Didn’t I just. I should read a history of anything if it was worded like the above. And I love the paean to the strangeness of libraries – ‘Lethean tributaries of lost sentiments and found philosophies’ especially.

        The poetry I think I should struggle with rather more; more often my preferred limits are those of poetic prose (but I have no problem with Ulysses and keep trying to arrange a reading group for Finnegans Wake, having tasted a sample at Dr Senn’s free evenings in Zurich’s Joyce House). Thank you properly for this.

        1. Susan Scheid Post author

          A Finnegan’s Wake reading group! You’re a braver man than I am, Gunga din! Still, that sort of thing is actually the best way to take on such a project–to have company as you travel into the wilds. The Joyce House evenings you note must have been splendid.

          I love that line of Howe’s you chose, as well. Indeed, that whole essay is a jewel of poetic prose.

  8. Britta

    Dear Sue,
    thank you for drawing attention to Susan Howe – she is very magniloquent!
    To sit in a library among old books – fascinating (I wrote my Master thesis in the (old) British Museum – was allowed to enter the magazines – and the silence: overwhelming! When one left, the screech of taxi brakes hurt the ears).
    Poets and gardeners – interesting.
    And to read the testimonials of brave men: very touching.

    1. Susan Scheid Post author

      Ah, Britta, I picture you in that citadel to end all citadels! Will you tell us what your master thesis was about? So pleased you enjoyed Howe. I’ve also, thanks to the great audio archive at PennSound, been able to hear a number of discussions and readings (if you’re interested, there’s a link to her page in the archive in the additional information section of the post.) She’s marvelous to listen to, on anything she cares to talk about–and so unassuming, too. I hope I’ll have the chance to hear her live one day.

  9. friko

    Hallo Sue,

    the only way I would understand this post is if I knew the poet and her writing and had been introduced to her by a lecturer. For that I’d have to do a lot of prior reading and studying. American history is a little less of a sealed chapter to this ignorant European, but only just. Details as per this posts are fascinating but wholly new to me.

    So little of what you and Mark and some of your commenters (the ones who know what they are talking about) post and write about has come across the Atlantic; it’s as if we lived on different planets. That goes not only for poetry but also for music. Are there any European members of these online courses? I know that there are European universities which teach ‘American Studies’, perhaps they might include the people you mention here. Otherwise it’s you who introduces me to the world of US culture. Sadly, I couldn’t possibly hope to keep up.

    1. Susan Scheid Post author

      Friko: this MOOC phenomenon holds great promise, I think. At the moment, the courses are open to all free worldwide. People from all over the world participated in ModPo, all ages, all walks of life, and a huge variety in terms of exposure to any kind of poetry. (Bear in mind, my own exposure, particularly to the ModPo poetry, was tiny before the course, and, I’ll tell you, some of the poets covered later in the course make Gertrude Stein look tame.) I don’t think all MOOCs are created equal, to be sure. What made ModPo work was engaged, expert, and passionate teaching, along with incredibly inventive use of every imaginable online tool available. The return on that investment was a host of fully engaged participants, creating lively discussions everywhere you turned. I’ve made many friends out of it, from all over the world. (If you’re curious to know more, I included a link to the ModPo enrollment page on the post.)

    1. Susan Scheid Post author

      Well, Mark, you know exactly what you are talking about. Here is John Adams on the composition:

      Phrygian Gates is a 22-minute tour of half of the cycle of keys, modulating by the circle of fifths rather than stepwise à la Well-Tempered Clavier. The structure is in the form of a modulating square wave with one state in the Lydian mode and the other in the Phrygian mode. As the piece progresses the amount of time spent in the Lydian gradually shortens while that given over to the Phrygian lengthens. Hence the very first section, on A Lydian, is the longest in the piece and is followed by a very short passage on A Phrygian. In the next pair (E Lydian and Phrygian) the Lydian section is slightly shorter while its Phrygian mate is proportionally longer, and so on until the tables are turned. Then follows a coda in which the modes are rapidly mixed, one after the other. “Gates”, a term borrowed from electronics, are the moments when the modes abruptly and without warning shift. There is “mode” in this music, but there is no “modulation”.

      (There was a time when I at least knew what these terms meant, but that is all, so my hat is off to you for spotting the Lydian!)

      1. peculiaritiesandreticences

        I got a good laugh.. suprised I picked that out. I wondered if he was modulating through the circle of fifths.

        Got a piano or keyboard handy? It’s easy to hear the modes. First, play a C major scale. Next, play the C scale starting on each of the other notes of the scale. The modes are as follows:

        D- Dorian
        E- Phrygian
        F- Lydian
        G- Mixolydian
        A- Aeolian
        B- Locrian

  10. angela

    How(e) your post makes me dream that I head off to an old Carnegie this morn…not an industrial shack whose stacks are laden with pop fiction and very little cerebral content. Where are our readers who long to get lost in the woods, not be hand-held by a formulaic mystery where the bloom of the rose is always sweet and the blood never soils more than the grass of a manicured multiplex? But I go on…

    Seriously, Susan, an invigorating read that makes me long for Modpo even after starting two more courses last night. The minds of Howe, Al, Ashbery…teach us if the wildness that resides within the poets – how they untame the words so we may explore the content. My (fill in blank) I love that! My gives a power to say without worrying about being wrong.

    Music selection here… An interesting note, trying to quickly read into notes to Baudelaire whilst they played in my earbuds. Adams had me chasing the sentence down whereas the other short piano piece seemed to flow along side. ~

      1. Susan Scheid Post author

        Angela: With phrases like “Where are our readers who long to get lost in the woods, not be hand-held by a formulaic mystery where the bloom of the rose is always sweet and the blood never soils more than the grass of a manicured multiplex?” you may “go on” as long as you would like!

        Love your description, too, of the experience of reading Baudelaire to Adams and Duckworth. So now I am curious, going to the question you posed on a recent post of yours (“Does music allow us to see more clearly, or does it distort certain realities”), how would you answer it about reading Baudelaire to these two pieces?

    1. Susan Scheid Post author

      Steve: Upon first reading what you wrote, I thought surely you’d culled it from your vast store of knowledge, but if that’s the case, I’ve not been able to find the source. So, your own, it must be, then? A brilliant response to what’s on offer here, that I can say. After all, I strive every day to “make a meaning where none was,” usually with little success!

      1. Steve Schwartzman

        Your post inspired me to reply in kind, as a language poet, rather than as my usual grammatical and analytical self. The words that I wrote popped into my head unbidden, and I quit while I was ahead. The sounds of the words seemed to be driving them.

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