Tuesday, April 01, 2014

40x40@40: C. S. Giscombe on Seismosis

Many thanks to Tisa for forwarding to me and others a very fine mention of Seismosis (1913 Press, 2006), the collaborative project I worked on with artist Chris Stackhouse. Small  Press Traffic is currently running its "40x40@40" series, about which SPT says:

As part of looking back and mapping what the amazing feats of the SPT community have been since 1974 [the year of its founding], we asked 40 writers to contribute one short text each celebrating—describing, anatomizing, remembering an encounter with, meditating on, shouting out to—a single book published by a small press between 1974 and 2014.

We’re interested in having writers reflect on a book that palpably shifted their perspective, startled their aesthetics, changed their life; a book they always recommend to others; a book that they would place in a time capsule. The one small-press publication that has obsessed them: cult classic—difficult pleasure—creased-cover favorite—out-of-print masterpiece…

The 40×40@40 list will, hopefully, sketch a 40-part haphazard history of independent publishing and ardent reading across these four decades.
How wonderful then to learn that out of many libraries' worth of compelling experimental texts published over the last 40 years award-winning author C. S. Giscombe, author of Giscombe Road (1998), Prairie Style (2008), and other important works of poetry and criticism, and professor of English at University of California-Berkeley, selected Seismosis as his pick.

Here's a snippet of what he writes:
Seismosis, John Keene’s collaboration with Christopher Stackhouse, moves and moves in more than direction.  From the title—which suggests the motion of earth and the motion of liquid—onward the book celebrates mix.  As the back of the book tells us, the text samples work from a variety of writers and performers (Guy Davenport, Leonardo da Vinci, DJ Spooky, Charles Olson, Marjorie Perloff, and Cecil Taylor, among others) and here, in that act, is the mix of languages that makes poetry—here Keene and Stackhouse have taken their collaboration outward and, in so doing, have brought the world into it.  The very end of the book, the one-line poem called “Process,” is signal and also, playfully, serves a summary function—“In the mark we choose and lose signature.”  
He concludes his short post by noting that
Here I feel the book coming again not to “a still but not deep center” (Roethke) but to a statement (via re-statement) of its collaborative project.  I’m struck, throughout the book, by the play of collaboration. The book seems to me to be an examination of what collaboration might look like if it crossed borders.  And here, in Seismosis, with its implicit ruptures of earth’s crust and violations of membranes, borders are being crossed.
Many thanks to Cecil and to SPT, and do visit their site to check out some of the other works they've selected, including works by Dennis Cooper, Elaine Equi, Bernadette Mayer, Karen Brodine, and Heather Fuller. There are a little over 30 more or so works to come!

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