Mayumi Hamanaka’s Fickle Topography

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Happy Mountain—Japanese Landscape, Installation view at Mission
17 33”x192”x144”, felt, pin, polystyrene
2004

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Streak Of
archival inkjet print, 23.25”x24” and 23”x31”
2006

Mayumi Hamanaka’s Fickle Topography

by Monique Montibon

A PHOTOGRAPH of a lone bird soaring against the backdrop of a cloudless blue sky— it’s a fleeting moment captured in a split second, but such a mundane or perhaps even seemingly insignificant occurrence evokes a broad range of sensations in its observers: freedom, loneliness, bravery, fear, beauty and impermanence, among others.

No two people experience life in exactly the same manner, as our preferences and prejudices are shaped by myriad influences. Add to this the fact that our opinions and those myriad influences continually change, and it starts to become apparent that it’s a tall order to formulate one’s identity within the context of such a fickle world. This notion is an important concept behind Mayumi Hamanaka’s work.

It seems difficult or even frustrating to grasp one’s sense of meaning or the significance of one’s place in history during an era in which a plethora of conflicting information and media messages are competing for our attention, but via her art, Hamanaka asks us to try.

She draws attention to the intersection of the intentional and the incidental, and reveals the extraordinary in the ordinary, often by juxtaposing two seemingly disparate images. An extreme close-up photograph of a flower, for instance, causes the flower to lose its solidity as a recognizable object, yet being so close to it reveals sensual textures and brilliant colors that may otherwise be overlooked. Placed beside a photograph of an airplane in flight—so high in the sky that its shape resembles a small gray shark in a large dark ocean—the two images together illustrate the impermanence of life: A vibrant flower becomes an omen of the impending end of every life cycle, an airplane overhead never again repeats that exact trajectory. Together the effect is beautiful and ethereal yet laced with a distinctly ominous feel. Or perhaps it is the suggestion of our own mortality that lends a subtle air of doom to the piece.

Through her work as an installation artist and photographer, Hamanaka brings to each discovery an awareness of the inherent, ephemeral quality of life, as well as an understanding of how this in turn impacts us and our impressions of everyday existence. It is human nature to be caught up in the past or focused on the future, due to our tendencies to grasp at what we love and avert from what we dislike, but Hamanaka’s work welcomes the viewer to the present; it serves as an invitation to consider one’s place in time at this moment and utilizes reconfigured images of the past for context.

At a recent joint exhibition at Swarm Studios in Oakland, some of Hamanaka’s pieces resembled white topographic maps. Upon closer inspection, the viewer could see they were actually photographs that were taken during World War I and World War II and recently reworked by Hamanaka. Clusters of bodies were outlined as amorphous shapes on white paper, which were then carved out and stacked upon one another, each layer incrementally smaller than the previous one—hence the cartographic relief effect. Appearing in nonchronological order, and devoid of any details that could possibly date the images, they gave the viewer the opportunity to see familiar scenes with fresh eyes, and to consider their lingering significance. It is one way to experience Hamanaka’s work, and arguably, an underutilized way to experience life.

For more information about Mayumi Hamanaka, go to studioislander.com.

Monique Montibon is the former editor of Reverse Angle. She thinks about her own mortality too much. 

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Seeing Things: The Rope Guy Is Really the Cake Guy

Seeing Things

The Rope Guy Is Really the Cake Guy

Light, paint, rope, cake. These are the options on Scott Hove’s website, mshove.com. While I’m suddenly a click away from exploring playful light drawings and paintings that mix urban architecture with floral-inspired flourishes, it’s the rope sculptures that originally drew me to Hove’s work. Taking full advantage of his access to the Port of Oakland’s very big ships, Scott has done some crazy shit with very big ropes. The massive knots that keep tankers from drifting back out to sea have been seen in Oakland galleries, as have nest-like installations, multiple strand star knots, even a tension installation made of rope, twine and bone that tied together a recent labyrinth exhibit at Oakland’s Lobot Gallery.

Which is why finding out that Scott more than dabbles with cakes is somehow disturbing: With Hove’s touch, delicate things like frosting, cherries and many-layered cakes take on a uniquely sinister attitude—and give new meaning to the phrase “sweet tooth.”

Indeed, there have been multiple cake sightings in the East Bay scene of late. This summer at RPS gallery, artists Tara Goe and Katie Byron installed a temporary Cake Shop where they hosted cake decorating, took special requests for dream-cake designs (some of which were fulfilled), and closed the shop with a cake walk. Apparently, cup cakes are a preferred way to get cavities in NYC (Amy Sedaris makes some pretty good ones, I hear). And now, Scott Hove has his own take on this pastry craze by adding black frosting to the compulsory pinks and whites, elements of architecture that may be informed by his Oakland digs—and really sharp teeth. My favorite of Scott’s cake sculptures is a stack of rectangular cakes that, when hung on the wall, opens into a freaking ferocious wolf mouth, complete with canines, tongue and (the topper) cherries for its scary eyes. It’s called “Bite Cake.” And I totally don’t want one. A bite, I mean. —Jen Loy 

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So Fresh and So Green: Free Soil and the Irresistible Lure of Sustainable Design

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F.R.U.I.T.
Installation, Smart Museum, Chicago
2005

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Field Testing Wrappers
Installation, Smart Museum, Chicago
2005

So Fresh and So Green

Free Soil and the Irresistible Lure of Sustainable Design

by Tara Goe

The biggest challenge [to sustainability] is the political, social and economic systems we live in at the moment. The currents in this system are strong and don’t allow for sustainability. I use art as a means to learn, and [then] share what I learn in a visual language.

—Amy Franchescini

WEEKLY, I am blessed with the task of cataloguing all the new magazines that come into the library branch where I work, which keeps me in the loop about all things trendy and totally Brangelina and TomKat. But far more startling than the amount of covers recently dedicated to Tom and Katie’s “miracle baby” are the surplus of environmentally themed covers, featuring celebrities (and the occasional cute dog or kid) decked entirely in an earthy palette of spring greens and warm tweedy browns. Put simply, saving the environment and talking about climate change are hot right now. The most ridiculous example is Vanity Fair’s recent “Special Green Issue,” featuring Julia Roberts in full leafy-coifed earthmother drag. Newsweek also jumped on the green wagon recently with its equally earthen-tinged cover story, “The New Greening of America: From Politics to Lifestyle, Why Saving the Environment Is Suddenly Hot.”

While I’m pleased that it’s become fashionable to be eco-friendly, I can’t help feeling wary, because “hip” and “trendy” do not necessarily accessorize well with terms like “ethical” and “sustainable.” By its very definition, the word “trendy” represents everything ephemeral, temporary and completely based in the now; meanwhile, sustainable refers to the future, to creating structures in the now that will eventually become self-sustaining, allowing humanity to live (ideally) in greater harmony with its environment and available resources. So, if sustainability is becoming trendy, how do we keep its trendiness sustainable? And is that what we should be aiming for?

Beyond Green

These questions are at the forefront of my mind while viewing the catalogue for a show that opened last fall at the Smart Museum of Art in Chicago, entitled Beyond Green: Towards a Sustainable Design. It’s an impressive and inspiring collection of work—art that isn’t afraid, as stated in the catalogue, to attempt a balance of “environmental, social, economic, and aesthetic concerns.” In short, this survey of work, from the likes of Andrea Zittel, Michael Rakowitz, and Learning Group (among many others), makes sustainable living appear irresistible, necessary and just plain fun.

One of the most interesting installations in the show, F.R.U.I.T. (2005), was put together by a collaborative group called Free Soil, and focused on “the networks that link cities and agricultural areas and highlights the costs (social, economic, environmental) of getting fruit from rural areas to ever-growing populations.” Co-founded by new-media artist Amy Franceschini, founder of the artists’ group Futurefarmers, Free Soil’s main goal is not to show its work in galleries, but rather to engage the public in conversation and share information about food production and distribution. Using the orange as a focal point, group members placed wrappers in their local fruit stands, printed with information about how the food was grown and transported to the supermarket.

Franceschini explains: “By piggybacking on oranges, information was carried through the food system and into the hands of consumers. The Wrapper holds information on a variety of aspects concerning food movements, transport, and urban farming. For us, this was really the project. … In [a] gallery, the piece feels a bit staged for my liking, but I think it reached different people and in a different way than if someone found a wrapped orange in the supermarket.”

One of the things I find lovely about the project, aside from the sentiment that art can be created for truly informative purposes, is its actual aesthetic quality (along with other projects in the show). It stands as proof that a serious-minded, informative piece that champions sustainability can also be playful, and enjoyable to look at.

Franceschini’s design sense, on display at the Futurefarmers’ website and in materials and graphics for the F.R.U.I.T. project, is friendly and cute-as-a-button; but this doesn’t take away from its serious content. In fact, she makes talking about food distribution, food safety and environmental issues accessible, interactive and strangely fun. This is the lure, essentially, of much of the work in the Beyond Green show; although most of the featured artists and designers don’t consider their work to be associated with any particular movement, there is an overall playfulness to each piece— suggesting that if we are to make any move towards creating sustainable solutions within our political, social and economic systems, we must first appeal to people through aesthetics, rather than ethics. In other words, artists and designers must make the idea of sustainability look so appealing, cute and even trendy, that it will become irresistible to the general public.

Maybe, then, having Julia Roberts pose as the poster-girl for the new green lifestyle isn’t such a bad idea.

Moving Beyond Cute

I think art and activism need each other. I never think of myself as an “activist,” but if you think of activism as intentional action to bring about social or political change, then I would say that art can be activism.

—Amy Franceschini

Although I find much of the work from Beyond Green a breath of fresh air in an art world often cluttered with too many aesthetics but too few intentions, I’m still skeptical of design’s ability to create actual social change, or affect entire systems. The bourgeois trendiness of green design, seen in the popularity of the new hybrid car and the new-new prefab house, is a positive development. It’s one thing, however, to make sustainability trendy—it’s something entirely different to change people’s intentions, both their intentions in purchasing certain products and supporting environmental causes.

The artists in the Beyond Green show seem to have both their aesthetics and their intentions in the right place, but it’s ultimately up to the public to follow through with those intentions.

For more information on Amy Franceschini and Free Soil, go to freesoil.org, or futurefarmers. com. You can also download your own F.R.U.I.T. wrapper at freesoil.org/fruit/wrappers.html.

Beyond Green will be showing at the University Art Museum, Long Beach, California, November 1 through December 17, 2006; and at Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, Massachusetts, February 2 through April 15, 2007.

Tara Goe recently learned that it’s better to buy your goods in aluminum cans than paper containers or plastic/glass bottles. She’s currently reading Gone Tomorrow: the Hidden Life of Garbage, and having a minor meltdown whenever she buys anything with excessive packaging. 

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Mouse Trap

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The Developmentally Blond Girl From Oklahoma City Who Spoke Perfect Korean

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The Developmentally Disabled Blonde Girl From Oklahoma City Who Spoke Perfect Korean

fiction by Ben Bush
illustration by Traci Hui

MOST OF the babies born in Oklahoma City in 1972 weren’t born with a preference for any particular language. They were born with brains eager to learn English or French or Taiwanese or the Cherokee language of Tsalagi. But there was a little girl born with textbook perfect Korean inside of her head. When the doctor pulled her soft round skull into this world she wailed “Gamsa hamnida!

Her parents were second-generation Oklahomans who traced their ancestry back to the Mayflower. They didn’t understand Korean. They thought the sounds their child made were just the usual baby gibberish.

Her parents waited for her first word of English. They were still waiting when she had learned to walk. Her bald head sprouted shoulder-length blond hair and they were still waiting. Instead she spoke a steady stream of proper Korean, which no one understood.

When it came time, her parents enrolled her in public school. The district classified her as developmentally disabled and she attended classes in a portable trailer unit behind the school. The porta-classroom smelled like brand new carpet and fresh paint and had smelled that way for eight years.

A blind man sat on a chair just outside the schoolyard fence. He sold #2 pencils out of a tin can. Sales were always brisk during test week when the students had to fill in the bubbles on Scantron computerized test forms. He also had a little organ grinder monkey. For a quarter the monkey would play a song from any Lerner and Lowe musical on his 20-note Balchyn organ.

The downtown business district would have been a more profitable location, but the blind man didn’t leave. He stayed because the schoolyard was built where his family’s farm had once been. In the days before the dustbowl they had raised alfalfa, but the bank foreclosed when the crops failed. Underneath the concrete playground was some of the richest soil in the surrounding five counties. Alfalfa seedlings still sprouted from around the base of the tetherball pole.

On her way home from school she would often stop and listen while the monkey played “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly” or “The Heather on the Hill.” She was glad to hear music without words. So often music was cluttered with words she couldn’t understand.

“Scree scree,” the monkey would wave as the girl passed by.

One afternoon when she got home her mother was unpacking a shopping bag, and she pulled out what looked like the evening newspaper. The girl was surprised when her mother unrolled the newspaper and there was a fish inside.

On the newspaper, the girl saw an alphabet she’d been missing like a long lost friend. It was the shapes she saw on the inside of her eyelids as she was falling asleep. She read of the promulgation of the revised socialist constitution in the North. She read how Park Chung Hee had made himself president for life with the Yusin amendment in the South. She sat in the middle of the newspaper reading and re-reading it beside the warm oven while her mother cooked. Fish moisture had obscured some of the important parts, but the girl made up what words she thought might have gone there.

For a week the girl dragged the newspaper along with her the way the other children carried a favorite blanket or teddy bear. One afternoon she took it with her in the car while her mother was running errands. Her mother needed a ham bone for stew that night. She parked the car in front of the Korean butcher shop.

The girl looked up at the man behind the counter. “Annyong haseyo?” she said in greeting.

The butcher was midway through carving a leg of lamb, and his knife clattered to the floor. He hadn’t expected to hear his language coming from the mouth of a tiny blond girl. Soon they were engaged in a heated political debate about some of the issues that had been wrapped around last week’s salmon. Although they differed on the viability of the student uprisings, the girl found endless pleasure in at least being understood.

The mother was speechless with surprise that anyone understood her daughter.

After that the girl always went straight from school to work at the butcher shop. She spent her afternoons making deli-thin slices of sagogi and dwaejigogi. She missed hanging around the schoolyard listening to the organ, so she invited the blind man and the monkey to join her. The monkey worked behind the counter. His skills at organ grinding easily transferred to grinding hamburger.

Ben Bush is a reporter for the Martinez News-Gazette. His journalism and criticism has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, Bitch, Poets and Writers, Alternet, XLR8R, San Francisco Bay Guardian, the Portland Mercury, thefanzine.com and Whatcha Mean, What’s a Zine? (Houghton Mifflin). 

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Toys for a Desert

Toys for a Desert

by Stephen Smith

Arabian. Of late,
only for horses.
Known once, or
a version known,
made of gauze
and pins and
common skins.
Makers all working
on versions now
known, hands
detailing difference.
A first horse,
a mostly sheer
mane, a one hand
to ten scale, selling
as real, as real is
glass eyes. A second,
and more of the same,
but green, iridescent and
wrong, though not in the
hands that altered this
version. There, as though
there were no need for
windows. There, as if flat
in scale and in speech,
using Argus for dress-up,
a chance of romance
or fear. Brightened on edges,
dark in its mid-space.
Nothing a mare-doll
in making can’t see,
and given for things that are
kept in a drawer.
The horses are sleeping,
but look nonetheless.
They’re named for their
makers, the versions
we know of, the ones
that keep secret
the shapes of their manes.

Stephen Smith teaches at Santa Clara University. He is a frequent contributor to Kitchen Sink

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Paint a Vulgar Picture

Paint a Vulgar Picture

by Jonathan Loucks

A rope unraveling, bit by bit
the nylon endings of my compulsions fray:
Running into walls with knives set at chest-level.
Gunshots to the gut like electroshock they hurt
so much. Flinging oneself off bridges above concrete
parkways, only to land stiff in glass spider lattices,
resurrected but half-dead. These thoughts consume
me, ravenous yet set to purge. I was making myself so sick,
I had no arms.
Still, I have to beg: Stick your fist
down my throat and push until I’m split.
Now, push harder.

Jonathan Loucks received his MFA in poetry from the University of Pittsburgh. He is a staff writer at Kitchen Sink, and plays guitar and sings in the band Workshop: myspace.com/workshoptheband. 

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Owens Valley

Owens Valley

by Cody Gates

Strapped to this lucky red test

we make up           traditions
rituals

for the cattle crossings. You call a mattress
the wrong color, and tell your sister

that when you and I run away together

they won’t find us in Owens Valley.
they won’t find us.

I tried      writing
nothing

to tell you that some windows don’t work.
Instead this               store of maps
poem

wheels in the air, comes down
like the heat,
comes down
like my body,

my desert body, the words I’d have given you
had I written,

the words                   I would
you would

use to                         put you in
reject

this poem, that you would stand, unpuzzled,
uninjected, saying                   “I love him,
“I don’t know him,

though not when he climbs the starry skies
or when he wheels.”

Cody Gates was born in San Bernardino, Calif. and teaches writing at UC Berkeley. 

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and we were there

and we were there

by Jeff T. Johnson

we can inhabit the past
a friend tells me on the telephone
we were talking about lines
the quality of pause
he wrote a poem like a conversation
i was having with myself

come on in, the record says

all this instead of a nap
something for later
pittsburgh pittsburgh
pittsburgh summer aught-five

there’s many kinds of breaks, and ways to say
that more or less make grammatical sense
sic-ing language on the others, those who listen
those who read

i did get to sleep on the sun’s time
reclining in my chair, what smith called
an old man’s nap when i awoke to her return

we inhabit the past, i remember as spring arrives
floating old clear records of dead men singing
each day a place to be divided by infinity
take your pick tomorrow if it ever comes

our favorite lines were the best ones we knew
at the moment we were asked
when a song came to mind
as we tripped on broken sidewalk tiles

the weight of what’s behind us
is worth it in the houses
on our evening visitations
in short lines for real states
sides we can pin to the table
when we need to return
to every time the record played

Jeff T. Johnson is coming to terms with punctuation. 

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The Breaks: Quality of Pause at the End of the Line

The Breaks

Quality of Pause at the End of the Line

by Jeff T. Johnson

“THE CONCEPT of the line is fundamental to the concept of poetry itself, for the line is the differentia of verse and prose,” according to The Princeton Handbook of Poetic Terms. As I would like to concentrate on the machinations of the line, and in particular, the end of the line, let’s set aside our favorite prose poems and consider the breaks. A line break is a moment of suspense for both the reader and the poet, who await the poem’s next move, and this moment can be wasted if it is not allowed to take its time. For years I have nurtured an aversion to end-line punctuation because it tends to say too much too soon, spoiling the surprises of the next line. What follows in this essay is a valediction to end-line punctuation, which I reserve the right to withdraw or compromise at any moment.

Enjambment Vs. Quality of Pause

Discussing the rejection of “end-stopped cadence in favor of a mild counterpoint created by enjambment” on the part of William Carlos Williams, Marianne Moore and e.e. cummings, Stephen Dobyns explains:

The basic premise [of enjambment] is that the line break, by being a brief pause, interrupts the rhythm of the sentence. The exact duration is unimportant. It lasts about as long as it takes to move one’s eyes back to the beginning of the next line. The theory is that the poet is able to manipulate these artificial pauses to create a sufficient force to set against the rhythm of the sentence. … When a line is broken at a piece of punctuation or a natural pause, that break creates a rest. When a line is broken between pauses or pieces of punctuation, that creates tension. (Best Words, Best Order, p. 109)

I am interested less in the concept and practice of enjambment, which is a convention of free verse (that is, poetry that avoids standard meter), than I am in the possibilities of non-punctuated end-line pauses to create other varieties of tension in free verse. Not all pauses are created equally, and lines do not necessarily behave like good sentences.[1] I would like to talk about the quality of pause, which I distinguish from the conventions of enjambment. If you believe Dobyns, the duration of pause at the end of a line that does not end in punctuation is mechanical (i.e., based on the time “it takes to move one’s eyes to the beginning of the next line”). That assumes, of course, that the lines will indeed enjamb. The quality of pause matters more if the poet allows for ambiguity about how one line relates to another. By quality, I refer not only to the length of the pause, but the meaning and tone of the pause. Just as types of end-line punctuation differ in effect (e.g., comma vs. period), so do various forms of nonpunctuated line breaks (e.g., enjambment vs. an abrupt semantic shift; line break vs. stanza break).

Something like quality of pause is mentioned in The New Princeton Handbook of Poetic Terms during a discussion of “Line and Syntax,” with regard to enjambment:

In reading, the mind makes projections, in that pause [between lines], based on what has come before, about what word is most likely to appear at the beginning of the next line, expectations which a masterful poet will deliberately thwart, forcing rapid rereading. … Certainly in modern times, at least, it has been thought that one of the chief functions of line division is to stand in tension with or counterpoint to the divisions of grammar and sense, effecting, in the reader’s processing of the text, multiple simultaneous pattern recognition.[2] (p. 159)

Two elements here are particularly relevant to quality of pause. First is the idea that a line break without punctuation has the potential to force rereading. Of course, this is an opportunity for the poet to direct and manipulate the reader, but it is also a turn at which the poet might lose or otherwise frustrate the reader. Also relevant is the suggestion that since the innovation of enjambment (itself, again, a device of free verse), further developments in the use of the line break have contributed to the poet’s ability to create meaning. That is, to manipulate “grammar and sense,” which is to manipulate the reader.

However, in addition to arguing about the poet’s ability to effect quality of pause, I would like to acknowledge the reader’s role in animating and directing a poem. If unimaginative teachers have suggested that there is a best way to read a poem, which can be demonstrated by the “correct” reading of enjambment, quality of pause suggests a more subjective approach to reading. Just as the “masterful poet” can trick the reader into rereading part of a poem (which our short-sighted teacher might interpret as an attempt to correct an error in reading), a poet who employs quality of pause can leave space for the reader to interpret the nature of a break. There is naturally a per- formative aspect to line breaks, in which the person reading the poem (aloud, in this case) makes decisions about how to deliver a line, and how to ride the break into the next line. Here, quality of pause is related to the sense that a reader (or the poet, who may after all be the reader) might explain the meaning of a poem or image, but her explanation is not definitive.[3]

Indeed, quality of pause is itself a sort of invisible punctuation. Under the heading “Line Forms,” Princeton discusses how the way a poem looks affects the way a poem is read:

[Denise] Levertov says that the free-verse line-break affects both rhythm and intonation: it is … “a form of punctuation additional to the punctuation that forms part of the logic of completed thoughts.” (p. 160)

If this is true, end-line punctuation may be unnecessary and even tautological (in the sense of “a mere repetition of acts”[4])—an unintentional overlap or doubled pause. I suspect that Levertov is thinking of the judicious use of end-line punctuation, or anyway, that’s what I’m ultimately advocating.

The Bathtub Hinge

Pity the bathtub its forced embrace of the human
Form may define external appearance but there is room
For improvement within try a soap dish that allows for
Slippage is inevitable as is difference in the size of

—Matthea Harvey, “Pity the Bathtub Its Forced Embrace of the Human Form”

Matthea Harvey’s 2000 debut collection of poetry, which carries the same title as the poem quoted above, provides ample opportunities for “multiple simultaneous pattern recognition” by use of what I’ll call the hinged line. As she does in the excerpt above, Harvey enjambs sense as well as syntax, so that related lines also stand on their own, and even head off in different directions. Her hinge usually lies at the beginning or end of a line, as it does between excerpted lines one and two and lines three and four, but she might also suggest a hinge in the middle of a line, as she does in line three (between “within” and “try”). The latter case is notable in its relation to Levertov’s point about what I call invisible punctuation: Harvey places a ghost-caesura[5] in line three. In other words, she does not demand that the reader pause after “within,” and in fact her ghost may be a false lead, since a reader familiar with the poem knows that each line stands on its own, despite its fraternity with neighboring lines. If lines two and three are read with conventional enjambment, one might be spooked by the apparent pause midline, unable to regain her composure until the line is re-approached, unless of course she flees this haunted bathroom.

My point is that Harvey gives us a sense of how to read her poem without giving up on ambiguity in her lines, and in the passage above, she underscores the very workings of her hinged lines by highlighting the unpredictability of her changes in direction. Above all, she lets us know that a lack of end-line punctuation does not necessitate conventional enjambment, even when the lines are related.[6][7]

Toward a Personal Poetics

Poets and readers of poetry have ever-evolving ideas about the way poetry works, in a way that is similar (and related to) our sense of diction and language in general. The Oxford English Dictionary relies more heavily on etymology (examples of usage) than on explicit definition of words in order to describe the way usage changes over time. Words collect and shift meaning, and our understanding of poetic form and convention develop as poetry is practiced, over the years. In this sense, we can discover a mutable personal poetics that continually rejuvenates our reading and writing. Without such personal poetics, our sensibilities age badly, and we repeat the dry lines of our most stubborn teachers. If instead we approach each line as a fresh track to meaning, accompanied by the suspense of not knowing what’s next, we will change with poetry, and poetry will change with us.

Jeff T. Johnson is in a band called nasturtiums, which has an album called hate the line/ fuck punctuation

[1] This is to say that pauses at the end of a line do not have to be “natural”; furthermore, what’s “natural” in a sentence from a paragraph is not necessarily what’s “natural” in a line from a poem.
[2] Like the narrator in Lee Skirboll’s “Hey Bartender!” who cannot stop his train of thought from Rebel Yell whiskey to Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell,” I cannot help but board the train of this sentence, where Sonic Youth’s “Pattern Recognition,” stuck on the first titular reference, plays on a loop. Is there a nurse on board?
[3] That said, there is no greater authority on the poem than its reader, who must decide for herself how a poem works (or does not work).
[4] from the Oxford English Dictionary definition of tautology.
[5] According to the OED, a caesura is “a pause or breathing-place about the middle of a metrical line, generally indicated by a pause in the sense.”
[6] The quoted passage is from part three of the two-page poem, and aside from parentheses, she does not use any punctuation in the poem (though she does of course signify her hinges by capitalizing the first letter of each line, a poetic convention she does not follow throughout the book, though it is her preferred indicator of a hinge between lines).
[7] The curious reader can find plenty of other examples of non-punctuated pauses between lines in the poetry of John Ashbery, Gertrude Stein, and other poets who do not necessarily enjamb lines without punctuation, and who tend to play with grammar and/or disregard the logic of sentences in their poems.

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