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Leslie Scalapino, poet
October 29, 2006 8:26 AM   Subscribe

"[M]y writing's not making a distinction between physical/muscular action and mind action or between events of history and minute events between people." -- Leslie Scalapino. Leslie Scalapino is an American poet associated with the language poetry movement. -- How2 Special Feature on Scalapino. -- Excerpt from The Forest is in the Euphrates River. -- Audio links to Scalapino reading from and discussing her work. -- Another audio link, to Scalapino reading from her book The Pearl. -- Excerpts from The Tango. -- Scalapino's Nov. 11 2006 reading at The Poetry Project in NYC. -- Scalapino is the daughter of controversial Berkeley scholar Robert Scalapino, who founded Berkeley's Institute for Asian Studies. -- Scalapino defends her father. -- Scalapino co-edited a volume of poets against the U.S. interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq. -- Scalapino's discussion of "relation of writing to events" with Judith Goldman.
posted by jayder (6 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
On the influence of the Vietnam war in Scalapino's poetry:

Interviewer: I am thinking of a passage in they were at the beach (I think Elizabeth Frost asked you a similar question) where there is a juxtaposition of the sexual encounter between a man and a woman with scenes of riot and war. I thought: “What war is this”?

Leslie Scalapino: That was in Berkeley during the Vietnam War. In that, I'm talking about memories, from a long time ago, and from a whole range of childhood. We make things into visceral, sensual shapes and impressions that mold together in some way and are conflated with many other scenes as memory itself. It's not that I'm eschewing specificity, it's that there's many specificities combined.

I remember a guy climbing a flagpole and the police were beating him with their clubs and he scurried up this flagpole to get away from them. He was foaming at the mouth. We make things into memory, or we can't hang on to other things. It reminded me of reading about Mao and the various Chinese leaders during the Long March. When people tried to interview them after the Long March one man said they couldn't remember large things. They could remember only minute details of moments that they'd experienced.

They remembered things like coming to a place where the fish jumped out of the river at them. They said the fish had never seen humans before, that they jumped into their hands. But all kinds of “historical import” they could not remember.
posted by jayder at 8:26 AM on October 29, 2006


Sorry, let's try again: On the influence of the Vietnam war in Scalapino's poetry
posted by jayder at 8:28 AM on October 29, 2006


Thanks, jaydar. Very interesting.
posted by luckypozzo at 9:23 AM on October 29, 2006


Opps, jayder. Sorry. Still interesting though.
posted by luckypozzo at 9:24 AM on October 29, 2006


FWIW, Scalapino is (or at least was, as of a year or two ago) a fixture of the poetry scene in the SF Bay Area, particularly in Berkeley. I met her on numerous occasions during readings at the UC Berkeley campus (Holloway series), Moe's on Telegraph, etc.

What's interesting to me is that because I had taken Scalapino so much for granted, I'd never really looked much at her work before. Now, I can see the same thematic (though not necessarily formal) vein running clear from her works into the works of a couple of my poet friends whom she had mentored at one time or another. The connection is particularly strong when it comes to their 9/11 and war poems. Whether my friends had sought her out because of their literary similarities or whether she had molded these young writers after her own image is one of those questions I would answer differently depending on how cynical I happened to be feeling about poetic pedagogy. In either case, my tastes have strayed pretty far from langpo these days, and in some ways I much prefer my friends' poetry pre-Scalapino than post-...

On the pedagogy issue: cue rant about x-th generation New York school, etc.
posted by DaShiv at 2:49 PM on October 29, 2006


Thanks jayder, Scalapino is one of those poets that I've known about for a long time but never taken the time to get to know. A lot of her linefragments have gotten stuck in my head.

so a man threw a ball

A good entry for the six-word story thing :)
posted by Kattullus at 6:33 PM on October 29, 2006


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