Saturday, May 05, 2007

Unveiling / Marianne Moore by John Taggart


Her story

grew up in a row house
a house between other houses all in a row

343 North Hanover

two windows
embroidered lace curtains dog and
cat figurines tiny blue and white vases on the stills

two windows one window on the left window of her room
what she could see on a clear day she could see north mountain

and if she couldn’t see it she could feel it

some of the houses all in a
row are stuck together no space between them

between 343 and 345 a narrow passage leading to a narrow back yard

no space and/or narrow

man who lives in the house now says there's an underground
tunnel from the cellar to what
was a stable

says 95% of the town don’t know who she was who she

was what she was

This is only the second of the very attractive ATTICUS/FINCH CHAPBOOKS that Michael Cross creates out of Buffalo, New York (after Lisa Jarnot's Illiad, Book XXII [see my review of such here]), but after receiving a copy of their 9th chapbook, Unveiling / Marianne Moore by John Taggart, I begin to wonder if the series is very deliberately built of "response" works, taking a text and using it to move further. Unveiling / Marianne Moore works very much as a response to the work and life of the American poet Marianne Moore, using the facts of her as a jumping off point, and weaving in a range of specifics, language and ephemera of the late poet in two halves, "Sections 1-27" and "Sections 73-87," which make me eager to see if there is actually more, and if and when it might appear as a full length collection. Where does the series eventually go? Writing two sections with a serious gap, it makes me wonder how the two sections meet, or even if they do (this could be all the series has).

Moving through biographical information and beyond it, I very much like the movements of the language of this piece very much, not being held specifically by specifics; this is not written as biography, but as biotext, perhaps (in the words of Fred Wah), writing out of the facts of a life (in this case, specifically not the author's) and into something that moves out further. I very much like even deliberately not knowing all the information he works with and from, simply letting the language of the story of the language flow along like a river rushing, and letting it all wash over, taking it in exactly as he has written on the page.


William Bartram in his travels in
the Cherokee country

often abandoned/alone in his situation

dejected/unharmonious all alone in wild Indian country and a
vast distance from any settlements of white people
objects nonetheless conspired to conciliate
in some degree compose
his mind

"a new and
singularly beautiful" Aesculus pavia the singular red buckeye tree

"a new and beautiful" magnolia producing a rosaceous perfectly white flower of
a most fragrant scent in the center of a radius
of very large leaves

a company of young/innocent
Cherokee virgins "a gay assembly of hamadryades" picking strawberries
who confidently discovered themselves half unveiling their
blooming faces

merrily telling him

their fruit was ripe and sound and with native innocence
and cheerfulness presented little baskets

of their ripe and sound fruit.

A very attractive series, apparently everything is currently out of print except this collection (although Lisa Jarnot's was recently reissued by Toronto publisher BookThug), and forthcoming titles include Patrick F. Durgin's Imitation Poems (spring 2007) and Taylor Brady and Rob Halpern, TBA (2007), $8 a chapbook, $14 for any two (presuming US$); ATTICUS/FINCH CHAPBOOKS, c/o Michael Cross, State University of New York at Buffalo, Samuel Clemens Hall #306, Buffalo NY 14260-4610

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