Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Stephen Collis; Marjorie Welish

The Commons, Stephen Collis (Talonbooks, 2008)

This is the second installment of a sequence? – network? – work begun in Anarchive (North Star Books, 2005), & whose overriding title is "The Barricades Project." A kind of reinventing, reinterpretation, reanimation of various past radicalisms – in this case the flash points are Winstanley's Levellers ca. 1649; Henry David Thoreau; John Clare; & the various Lake Poets in general. I have enormous sympathy & interest in Collis's project, not least in how it overlaps with my own "Anarchy for the U. K." sequence (much of which appears in Anarchy, Spuyten Duyvil, 2003). & I envy the extent to which Collis has gone beyond Duncan & Howe – his most obvious precursors – in thinking about the literary heritage as a kind of poetic "commons" as yet unenclosed, open not to appropriation but to principled shared use.

Word Group, Majorie Welish (Coffee House, 2004)

This one's a knockout. It's all rich, & strange, & suggestive, but the parts that stick with me most insistently are the 16-section "Textile," which "weaves" a long poem, at least in the early bits, out of repeated phrases & structures as warp & woof. Best is "Delight Instruct" (as in Horace, get it?), a long poem which both dissects & rebuilds some Penguin volume of art history – not its contents, but its form – laying bare both the ordinariness & the strangeness of that oddest of information-bearing objects, the bound codex. Word Group is saturated thruout with evidences of Welish's other lives as visual artist & art critic. Poems both painterly & conceptual at once.



Archambeau said...

Yeah. Steve Collis is the real deal.

Susan M. Schultz said...

I blogged on Collis here:
Not that I'm pumping or anything. It's all the commons!
Happy season, Mark.