A series of sacrifices in which the victims are words.
December 15, 2007 9:02 PM   Subscribe

Eclipse is a free on-line archive focusing on digital facsimiles of the most radical small-press writing from the last quarter century.

There's a lot to choose from, but here are three of my favorites:

Lyn Hejinian's A Thought Is The Bride of What Thinking
Susan Howe's The Western Borders
posted by Hypocrite_Lecteur (10 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Oooh. Heavy on the L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poets. I loves 'em.
posted by juv3nal at 10:25 PM on December 15, 2007

most radical small-press writing from the last quarter century

No Jim Goad?
posted by uncanny hengeman at 10:31 PM on December 15, 2007

Man, sometimes I really miss the 20th century.
posted by salishsea at 10:35 PM on December 15, 2007

I wish people would choose distinctive names for their projects instead of these single-noun things. Is this a really petty criticism? You bet!
posted by sonic meat machine at 9:04 AM on December 16, 2007

Hmmm. . . mixed feelings about L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poets. Kinda interesting, but a little goes a long way.

For instance, no 15 of "Bond Sonnets" by Clark Coolidge:

easy octopus exaustion coral and
help backs? but with 10
word there make corporal these
good! eyes attractive the stopped
pack going torch out it's
laying so the something sounded
puffed the get much with
hero SPECTRE room local hotel

concerned She gossip takes to
C.I.A. surely back been overdone
own even eleven-fifteen enough roar

off Volante dark himself tide
hand to aroused the missing
gray dropped since the strength

It's fun to encounter language this fucked up, but it doesn't really develop or go anywhere. Hence, I'm not really inclined to read the rest of the manuscript.

Worst are the journal entries published as poems. e.g. Lyn Hejinian's "A Thought Is The Bride Of What Thinking" the title of which is the most interesting bit. An excerpt:

Further thought, or, further advances. This, or this again, in different terms, may serve to add either complication or clarification. In either case, thinking does in some cases contract but in most cases expand the consciousness. With regard to the former, I am referring to what we call over- thinking, that painfull circling which taunts the mind. Yet even then, further thought of a different kind serves finally to propel one out of the morbid circle, toward some insight or conclusion.

. . .and so forth, for 12 pages. Looks to me like L.H.'s jounrnal, a bunch of discursive prose mostly of interest to her. This poetry seems unconcerned with engaging the reader. Doesn't that make it essentially narcissistic?
posted by flotson at 10:01 AM on December 16, 2007

The editor, Craig Dworkin, is a really smart guy, as you can tell. Anyone interested in this stuff should check out his book "Reading the Illegible" or see his essay (Flotson, I think you'd like this one) on UbuWeb (which he also edits) - it's a great way to break this stuff down.

His own stuff isn't too shabby, either. Good man to get a beer with.
posted by OrangeDrink at 11:56 AM on December 16, 2007

OrangeDrink: Thanks for the link. I did find some interesting stuff in that collection. Some of which were created by visual artists, which is interesting in itself, in connection with the comparisons to visual art made by Craig Dworkin in his essay, and elsewhere throughout language poetry discourse.

One key advantage of the works I saw in the UbuWeb collection: they are short. Often I find language poetry to be too long. Once the idea of such a work has come across, there's a diminishing return to further reading, if the work does not continue to develop. Some of these need not be read at all, even, to be enjoyed: e.g. Claude Closky's "The first thousand numbers classified in alphabetical order."
posted by flotson at 1:18 PM on December 16, 2007

This is a very targeted collection, only "radical" if you accept the premises of this rather ingrown group of writers. For L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poetry fans, it's a little gold mine for sure. But I wish any of the names in the archive had surprised me once I'd read the first couple.
posted by digaman at 1:25 PM on December 16, 2007

"This poetry seems unconcerned with engaging the reader. Doesn't that make it essentially narcissistic?"

Well, I like it. So maybe it's meant to engage people like me?

Digaman, it is indeed L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E heavy. But you should check out the N.H. Pritchard stuff. He didn't have any affiliations with Language poetry, as far as I know.
posted by Hypocrite_Lecteur at 9:03 PM on December 16, 2007

Hypocrite_L.-- Fair enough. As a great poet said, "it takes different strokes to move the world."
posted by flotson at 10:50 AM on December 17, 2007

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