Acqua, watercolour by Giovanni d'Agostino
Quadrato, Wax by Giovanni d'Agostino
Two by Martin Nakell
it had happened.
a we as the script
of written description
at mazes of astonishment each turn
a barrier as an entry
it is because is if only if
at which each spontaneously rescued word spoken is the entire conditional
no blossom occurs without a body
the seasons of ecstasy are internalized:
each turn of the memory of transcendence
cannot leave anything
behind those are the rules
for the perpetual game of it had happened
the days are longer than their nights which appear
which disappear among the clothes worn by the names
among the elephant who keeps coming up in conversation
as though everyone had seen it
or it had happened all of it
and no one fell off the linear edge each one thought of as their own
creation is another one a name and the night black as ink
or black as the blackest elephant who closes its eyes
into a milk-white darkness
who walks lumbering its snout swinging
across the vast territory of what is
where we were
where we were admiring each otherís intelligence
awash in perspicacity in the dazzling fact of interpretation
whose first name was understanding whose incarnation
as intuition engraved itself into the pattern as water falling
and thus the portrait seemed whole and yet you could see yourself
you could see everyone there
in that vast landscape, one at a time
or everyone together what a clamor too much too much go back
to the elephant to the trunk swinging to the dog we remembered
or rather who remembered us and off of whose bones the light glanced
as it curved toward the curvature of space that vast idea conceived of
Photograph Taken From a Window
by the absence of heatís excess,
boasting, full of the promise or pretension of calmness,
is already an ancient ruin.
The stone buildings which still
survive illuminated now
only by the spoor of light
People, (perhaps once resembling ourselves), who had fallen suddenly
into some grief or into the struggle with despair
or into a confrontation with self-defeat
who can pass these feelings
into the air of the evening,
into the stone of the evening,
into that white marble which still has the good luck
to catch a few actual rays off the disappearing sun,
those who can allow these damaged cells
to be absorbed into the porous atmosphere
by a process of incarnate osmosis
they win the reward of a sumptuous weariness
as though it were a water
into which burning feet
your face just then, or the face
we had seen in the photograph
of the photograph taken from the window,
in it so clear
a wound and such
steadiness braided together that I thought
a secret cave
in the sacred city had opened. In the real sacred city,
the one we celebrate because it cannot by definition exist.
May our ignorance absorb us
like a calm night. May the heaviness
of bodies leave us so that the weight
of our bodies keep us on earth. May we sit down
at the table, again,
where we have come before
in lives ordered by reasons
we accept, even in a new joy,
penetrable cry that might rise in us,
Tense Present, by Pasquale Verdicchio
Five by Krista Husar
which is a power sexual
have gone anywhere
an elephant treasure
stable couple is falling
what should She say
seh is the woman she She she
catch you later
genital point of view
know your way to wonderland
autonomous in grass
who fed the big guy
so this violence
because its melodramatic
apparently all white
the bartender not horse and field in that sense
the horse and stuff under together
blended zipping work
that was dreadful
no legs at all!
not a voice from nowhere
lack of understanding
come on a walk now
not home/back up first up as in hill
not involuntary methodologies and getting fire
In the dream I was playing a harp paper
then someone came and said
do you know, how to do, or who told you
(I keep trying to know what is a woman
analyzing outside collective behavior)
anyone who is similar
will probably get notices today
as they drove south
his accent changed
so she didn't want him inside her
ever again or so much bell curve
women in jail chanting for beds and food
later it was a threat to the sheriff to have them back
since always nagging bitches
sometimes lipstick- Dad, I gave that to her
the camera just has to look over
silly to listen culturally- no gun
play circus music
own these things
How people spend their methods
like a chicken
an active stamp
move out of the way
that's vitamin stuff
do you ever feel restaurant or male
sorry wrong bus
a roaster- dinner
blisters have a plan
in the fertile
female directly comments to brother even if I can help it
we always sit together
from this notebook to that notebook
Myung Mi Kim. The Bounty. (minneapolis: chax, 1996)
102 pages. $ 12.. isbn 0-925904-21-X.
Upon reading Myung Mi Kim's book The Bounty, I immediately realized the compositions'
silences and blank spaces were communicating and articulating a terrain of expressions that function
as powerfully as the voiced and registered words, rhythms and sounds. Gradually I became aware
that there existed both an audible, eloquent music, and a muted, suggestive, and potential music.
These musical manifestations, while interacting to create tensions and harmonies, began to assert
and outline a radical feminist temporality and spaciality toward a new kind of perception and creation.
While silence offers complex and evocative ways to read writing by women who explore it structurally,
rhetorically and thematically, it also presents a particular set of problematics. If one of the aims of feminist
writings is to make heard the unheard voices of women writers, then any valorization of silence might appear
to be a counter movement within this project. However, due to the centrality of silence in women's culture,
the legions of unheard, unpublished, out of print women's voices, the efforts to make those voices heard and
a re-evaluation of the function of silence are both important in giving homage to the elements and conditions t
hat helped to shape a tradition in women's writing. The formal and thematic re-evaluation of silence is a critical,
vital, and urgent project for Myung Mi Kim. By researching and emphasizing silences in The Bounty, Kim offers
ways of locating different values for silence. Kim's work activates new metaphors and modes through the
negotiation and mediation of languages which propose ways in which silence can speak and blank compositional
be made legible.
The overall structure and form of The Bounty contribute greatly to a different exploration of blank
space and its corresponding silences. Throughout the book's three sections, the formal exploration of the page
and the frame of its composition ranges and varies tremendously, pushing out and tugging at traditional rules and
conventions of the poetic line. Although certain sections appear to follow the rules of left hand margin, with
stanzas containing equal number of lines and the same number of stanzas per page, even this rigorous adherence
seems to ironize and comment upon the legitimacy of its own regularity and normality.
Kathleen Fraser has written that the line "locates the gesture of longing brought into language. It is the visual
enactment of perspective and difference" (152). She argues that, for women writers, the struggles and inventions
concerning the line have developed out of a need to visibly show the path of discovery and an effort not to repeat
certain agreed upon codes of versification. She specifically indicates the ones which have been regulated and used
for the most part by men in privileged positions and with access to public speech. Fraser writes:
For this reason, the frame of the page, the measure of the line, has provided for many contemporary
women poets the difficult pleasure of reinventing the givens of poetry, imagining in visual, structural
terms core states of female social and psychological experience not yet adequately tracked: hesitancy,
silencing or speechlessness, continuous disruption of time, "illogical" resistance, simultaneous perception,
social marginality. (153)
Fraser's emphasis on the page and its structural elements as a site for expression of a female aesthetic, as a
field for mapping and as a body for articulating "core states of female...experience" offers profoundly radical
suggestions for reading experimental women's writing. She broadens the focus by not only looking at different
subject matter, but also by examining the transcription and translation of the experience and perception of that
matter into the movement, rhythms, and spaces of poetry.
What then are the matters which concern the poet of The Bounty? Because the book is written in a fragmentary
style, it is very difficult to trace a narrative, pin down a point of view, or even locate a speaker. Rather, meaning or
the possibility of meaning, of making meaning and of locating the self and selves in a site where meaning can occur
and be made, become some of the basic concerns of the book. In reading and re-reading this dismantled and
discontinuous text certain patterns and cycles begin to accrue and to accumulate possible meanings around themselves.
This process of renewal and reorganization calls for particular instruments of research: memory, creation, languages,
generations, birth, translation. Resonances of sound buildups and associative landscapes combine to offer new patterns,
musics, and maps for making sense of history and its ruptures. The use of blank space is one of the primary means of
exploring these concerns through its articulation of silence and speechlessness.
The dedication page of The Bounty contains one word: "mother." One might expect a preposition like "for" or
"to" to appear around it or perhaps an expression of affection, gratitude or inspiration. However, the word with its
rich connotative resonance appears naked, isolated, without modification, and the resulting associations are many:
is she the poet's actual birth mother, a more generic mother who gives birth, inspires and expires, or the suggestion
of a nurturing quality, holistic like the earth or nature, and finally, the poet as mother giving birth to writing and
language. This page remains continually provoking through the whiteness that surrounds the solitary word, and
the blankness that invites participation, collaboration, and invention. This indication, even before the table of
contents, is both a clue for, and warning to, readers of what will be asked of them. The word's privileged and
pressurized position in the book reminds me of Cixous' observation in "The Laugh of the Medusa." "A woman is
never far from 'mother'....There's always within her at least a little of that good mother's milk. She writes in
white ink" (335). Already the reader is being urged into thinking of blankness, silence, and whiteness as containing
and carrying stories and their possibilities of collaboration and interpretation.
The first section, "Primer," begins with three entries: the number 1443, information about the Hangul language,
and the line: "This is the study book" (11). Each of the succeeding pages of this first section is headed by a consonant
in brackets reminding readers that this is a site of learning (and unlearning), and a didactic element related to the
project of cultural transformation. Some of what is being modeled here concerns languages and how to read, languages
and their parameters, languages and their shapes and outlines. Kim writes:
underbelly underscore may no longer resemble
where the barest suggestion of its shape
remnant of another opulent, ample time
in that reading...(17)
I read these lines as suggesting that there is something yet to be articulated concerning what belongs to a new
time that requires a new reading and interpretation, something under the surface of traditional, conventional
resemblance and languages. The disjointed and unconventional syntax is evocative in that it requires both a
suspension and an activation of reading. One is asked to proceed along with the unanticipated movements and
also to penetrate and participate. The spaces in between the words of this first line offer the reader places
to rest, to breathe, to listen to what happens in between the words, what sounds and patterns begin to accumulate
in those spaces which persistently appear and reappear in the varying context of each page's composition.
The description of culture and identity as influenced by immigration is both enacted on the page and
articulated in the fragments of images and information presented on page 23 of The Bounty. It suggests that
the poet hears and sees things simultaneously, momentarily, and in an overlapping palimpsest-like apprehension;
she reflects her confusion and difficulty in acquiring a new language, as in the easy-to-confuse sounds of the words
"call" and "cull." The shifting focus of the page insists that no single perspective be privileged, negotiating for
the development of many centers and voices. The whole page can be seen as a canvas, as a field where the reader
can enter its energy at any given place and exit wherever and whenever. The white spaces of this canvas,
the so-called negative spaces of this composition, instruct the reader in this freedom of breaking and entering.
It also expresses another side of freedom and rulelessness: confusion and embarrassment. Where do I go, where
do I belong, how do I read this and what can I say? Questions one might ask when confronted with an alien culture
Occurring near the end of the first section, which among other things is exploring language and the study of
it, page 28 is entirely blank, without even a page number. This blank page can be read as a gap or hole: there
is something missing. I read this silence as expressive of Kimís profound mistrust of language, of its limited
abilities to give meaning and make sense of the world around her. This page is an invitation to experience a
particular kind of speechlessness.
The second section, "Anna O Addendum," begins with two epigrams, one from Freud's Studies in Hysteria
and the other by the exiled Egyptian Jewish writer Edmond Jabes. The Freudian quotation comments on Anna O's
increasingly deprived hold of meaningful language, while Jabes expresses his distrust of language. "'...there is no
such thing as a word. There are consonants waiting to become vocables'" (35). These two quotations seem to ironize
each other, leaving each other in troubled positions as indicators or signposts for reading Kim's supplement to
the story of Anna O. The sparse, more airy, disturbing atmosphere of this section brings even more pressure to bear
upon individual words and parts of words by using the white spaces as a means to create the intensified
articulation in this porous system. Particularly inviting, it urges the reader to enter and engage its offered field of
"Of twenty keep ten" (45) advises a line in the middle of The Bounty, which I read as a note by the poet
to herself, and as an offered insight into her practice, the means by which some of the silences are outlined.
In other words, of twenty observations, phrases, images, syllables, words, letters, keep ten, half of them.
That the poet gives presence to her working process is also an indication of her desire to broaden notions of creation
and authorship. She establishes herself as a producer and maker of social productions that involves her in
the project of cultural transformation and the establishment of new values. In addition to relating her project
to a larger cultural project, the writer allows different materials to enter the writing, expanding compositional
and thematic possibilities. The porousness and openness of The Bounty question the notion of "finished" poems,
challenge ideas about closure, and suggest a model that breathes, that has white spaces for breaking and
entering, for conversation, a model that allows a wider range of perceptions to be registered.
The book's third section, among other elements, takes up the interrelationships between creator and
creation and between mother and child. It is not a simple celebration of birth but rather an intense interrogation
of the historical and personal conditions of women as mothers and artists. Kim writes:
Tombs of women ornamented
Who wants me dead
The children are the children are the children are.... (70)
This complex presentation of woman as producer and mother gains even more dimensions as the section continues.
"Mother confused with earth / Ankles leather bond // Left for dead the penetrable body mothers" (79).
The interrelation between writing and bearing children is also articulated by "Point blank inner written
last abode" (86). The conflation of the sites of gestation and of writing makes for a powerful image in the midst
of so much labor, starting and stopping, rupture and interruption. On the page the compositional structures powerfully
enact and echo these elements.
The final sequence of the book (91-99), is constructed in a highly innovative form. There are two single word
columns, each eight lines long, on either side of a block of text. The push and pull through the space of the page
that is created by this design radically question the status of the left margin as the traditional means of ordering
poetry while challenging readers to assert and articulate ways of reading and negotiating these pages.
Readers encounter the last page and confront the decay and erosion of the structures that have been established
just as they have begun to find rhythms and patterns for reading thereby demanding that an even more active
participation in the compostion, listening, and registration of the silences being created.
The Bounty challenges not only the reader and traditional forms of versification but also questions and opens
up the canon of acceptable genres. It asks to be read not as a collection of individual poems but as a book, as
something that occurs over an extended period of time and happens in an expanding space, thus seeking to
rethink established aesthetic and literary notions. By challenging traditional poetic structures, Kim is able
to enact a central element of her poetic project: the revaluing of the spatial and temporal functions of silence.
Endurance, bearing the silence, letting the silence be born and be borne are some of the associations that accrue
around Kim's expression of silence. The silences, in their most elemental role mark and register durations, what
is endured by and born from women in successive generations. In addition, while they honor a female heritage
that at times escapes articulation, yet it is in this book embodied in the blank page, these silences also begin to
outline the meaningful shapes that are being created.
Cixous, Helene. "The Laugh of the Medusa." Trans. Keith Cohen and Paula Cohen. Feminisms: An Anthology of Literary
Theory and Criticism. Ed. Robyn Warhol and Diane Price Handl. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers UP, 1991 (334-49).
Fraser, Kathleen. "Line. On the Line. Lining up. Lined with. Between the Lines. Bottom Line." The Line in Postmodern Poetry.
Ed. Robert Frank and Henry Sayer. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1988 (152-174).
Kim, Myung Mi. The Bounty. Minneapolis: Chax Press, 1996.
Translations by Pasquale Verdicchio
from Fosfeni (Milano: Mondadori, 1990)
Squaring-off the page
This is how it happens, like this pedaling -
pedal on the edge on the lip on the corner
while pebbles intervene and shadows too
fluttering from the aspen and valued green by green
Pedal, foot against foot
and leg against leg,
bone, pedaling, entangles tarsus and shins
Falls of butterflies sponsor you,
at the encounter in counter direction proceed
pedal and press and breathless worse than during birth
among bright birthings of suns like butterflies
and among birthings of butterflies soft comments
Pedal and press like inside a large grape
and bend over all the grapes
in front of you, mundane, make-over fidelity
Recover recover and give
prize, is at a premium beyond the anxieties and carnality:
elsely press sweet from sour from lucrative thefts
Pedal without trilling that no-one
the jumping flight on the gravel among butterflies
will impede anyone
The squaring-off of the page has begun -
by kicks well pedaled.
Selections from The Golden Man (Milano: Crocetti, 1988)
He was a handsome and marvelous man.
One could not stay near him a long long time, in fact
not at all.
He, the Distant one, lived all arrogant with his family,
in another place.
The man of the little box
A man had a wife.
On top of that, in a little box, he had a second one,
secret and very small.
How could the wife in the box breathe?
The box had a little window, as well as
a writing desk and a bed.
The man loved both wives very much and his wives
loved him too.
The man here
Shining with sun the road carried him.
From far away to Milan it carried him.
Every single force of speed turned and turned the wheel
so that the far away man might become a man here.
A perfumed man
Completely inebriated, that flower smelled that man.
Was he a perfumed man?
Yes, a man like a field of grasses.
The man and Rome
Come come said Rome to a man.
Rome could speak?
Come come - it said - on a wonderful trip
with a window seat.
Was Rome so polite?
Yes, and the man was nicely caressed and embraced.
The man of nostalgia
At length at length the bells rang, nostalgia was about to
was arriving had arrived.
It was the nostalgia of a man.
Was it a large nostalgia?
It was the largest nostalgia you1ll ever see.
The caressable man
Most difficult of all was when the nights fell on the beds
and caresses began to walk away.
At the end of the road they could not find the caressable man
for whom they had started to walk.
Dazed they searched and searched for the man but he was
not at the point of arrival.
The man of the moon
He did not want to tire him out but rest him like
Like a bluish moon?
Yes, that shines on the paths of the hills and
And the cities?
Alright, a little on the cities too.
And that man wanted that he should rest?
Yes, sometimes that man wanted the blue arms of the moon
all for himself.
The man of the stars
The sun shone in the sky.
For her to go walking with that man.
Was it a nice walk?
Marvelous, even the stars in the sky, in a scattered
order, walked along.
The man of goodnight
From a distant distant bed with the best selfsame
goodnight he wished.
Was there a moon?
Oh, yes the moon and a thousand stars, and the branches
of trees and sleeping waters, with every everything
he wished him goodnight.
And did the man hear?
Yes, softly softly the man heard, as he fell asleep.
The man of the prints
In the light of the sky at five of that evening
things stood out out so well oh had
that man been there to see them with her
the things of the universe that stood out.
So that man was not there to see them? had he left?
Yes, the road has stolen his steps, put his footprints
in line with the points turned
the other way.
The untouchable man
Most kissable in dreams, untouchable like
a thread bared in reality, was that man.
What to do then?
It was enough to confuse dream and reality
a little, erase them with a white eraser
the useless dividing line.
The man and the rain
Raining, he embraced her in his safe arms.
And the rain?
The rain rained outside.
Who knows after, they were at first
The man of orientation
Future orientations should have leaned
in the direction of major berries
Superior berries of superior kisses?
Oh yes. Always superior always superior until
their quantity in its turn in the end
should have been reached.
The man of the curtain
He lived in a fancy automobile.
There were two seats with head-rests, two without,
two drawers for food, a bookshelf,
and a night curtain.
That didn1t leave much space, he could only
receive very very small women (one at a time)
he kissed them a lot (behind the curtain)
especially one of them.
from Notes Toward a Poetics of the Garment (Milano: Crocetti, 1990)
A writer can change tongue only non metaphorically:
in a surgical sense.
The moan is an expression of the intellect.
Death wakes internally. Externally the body
keeps up appearances.
The last thing to die is society:
the thing that most resists in a dieing person is education.
In the end you find out that your one great love was a door.
If I had to choose a "poetic" form it would be tautology.
Compulsion is the translation of the heartbeat.
It is uneliminable in life.
Every time he asked me for a temporal reference
("but when...?") he was stupid.
There is never anyone in the room of the dieing.
Never anyone near.
Repentance is the best example of sentiment of
the definitive (in man): something of absolute
that sticks on us.
The mobility of thought is an absolute lack of stability:
it always wavers from the particular to the general
A particularity always produces (or generates)
a general argument.
Perfection - which psychologists despise - would be
to conform to will of everyone.
In every case in the surroundings what one says happens.
It is disturbing to remember that with any object
any other object has a closer relationship
than the staunches description that we can give of it.
A toothless hag will say the most tender things.
God is neither good nor bad: He is a master that must be obeyed.
A sentence is true when no-one else can understand it
except the one to whom it was said.
To convert the words of others into one's own energy
is a feminine modality.
It is not an idle question to establish whether the sun
or the rain is more of a determinant for the growth of green.
Intelligence does not mean to know: rather, it means to jump
In every context, the inversion of "good" and "evil"
must be made.
Strong admiration is free of envy. Love is not.
There is a point at which the new will no longer be
Examples are a characteristic of man: they do not
exist in nature.
Time makes the incomprehensible useful.
Once broken, a faith cannot be restored.
He who makes cannot know if he makes good or evil.
One cannot say: "I am doing good." Intention follows the doing.
Adoption is hideous.
Every increment of hearing is explained in italics.
The greater part (her included, the elegant and charming one)
lives on the back of others.
Reading is a synchrony of erotic movements.
Assoc. Italian Canadian Writers: Writing Announcements, AICW, etc.
verdicchio: My Homepage etc
ZERO: A Journal of Writing Arts
Zanzotto: Work by Andrea Zanzotto in transl
Antonio Porta: Translations of Porta's Poetry
LIGHTZOO: Film Reviews etc.