Tag Archives: Susan Howe

On Creatively Misreading Peter Cole’s The Invention of Influence

Invention_of_Influence_300_448. . . thinking we know where we’re going and then
getting somewhere, despite our intention.

—Peter Cole, from Actual Angels

I was tempted into reading poet Peter Cole’s book, The Invention of Influence, by a review in Jacket2.  From the get-go, the signs augured that I’d be in well over my head. Cole is, among other things, “a translator of Hebrew and Arabic poetries, modern and medieval” [Jacket 2], about which I know nothing. But I was intrigued by the idea that his work with translation so powerfully informed his poetry—that Cole was, in this sense among others, a Pasternakian sponge:

[Cole] practices writing as a form of translation, as a “being between” fixed places, with the poet as a transponder, not an orator, a conduit, not a usurper.” [Jacket 2]

I don’t have “proper” receptors for understanding this book of poems, but I’m attracted by its ideas and methods and impelled to attempt to “make it mine.” Here are three examples of my admittedly peculiar process. Continue reading

Time Traveling with Susan Howe

Photograph of Susan Howe courtesy of Lawrence Schwartzwald (No reproduction without express permission.)

Photograph of Susan Howe courtesy of Lawrence Schwartzwald (No reproduction without express permission.)

Every mark on a page is an acoustic mark.
—Susan Howe [WR]

Every word was once a poem.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson

I used to be attracted by word-a-day calendars. I had a friend who memorized each new word and made a point to use it in a sentence the same day. “I’ll use my clepsydra this morning to time my soft-boiled egg,” she might have said. Continue reading

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. Continue reading