Third Factory/Notes to Poetry

art is autonomous

Attention Span 2012 | Sharon Mesmer

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Clarice Lispector, trans. Johnny Lorenz | A Breath of Life | New Directions | 2012

CL: “I want to write squalidly and structurally as though with the acute angles of a rigid, enigmatic triangle plotted with ruler and compass.” Indeed!

Benjamin Moser | Why This World: A Biography of Clarice Lispector | Oxford | 2009

Lispector’s mother was raped by Russian soldiers during a pogrom in the western Ukraine and contracted syphilis. The mother heard that to cure syph you got pregnant; the author was the result of that attempt. The family later moved to Brazil, where Lispector became one of the country’s most acclaimed writers.

Philip K. Dick | Valis | Bantam | 1981 

Rediscovered this while packing to move and loved it more than ever. Horselover Fat: “Mental illness is not funny.” No shit.

Philip K. Dick, ed. Lawrence Sutin | In Pursuit of Valis: Selections from the Exegesis

Not the just-released Exegesis of Philip K. Dick by Jackson and Lethem, which is abridged, with commentary, and has been described as “diluted.” Having said that, though, I have to say that I haven’t read it. Yet.

Maria Damon | The Dark End of the Street: Margins In American Vanguard Poetry | Minnesota | 1993

MD: “Intimacy and invasion: it is my hope that the nocturnal texts and lives explored here have marauded the reader’s empathetic faculties, have broken-and-entered them in the quiet of darkness, have left behind spores of the possibilities of new consciousnesses and new communities.” Consider me marauded.

Marina Tsvetaeva, ed. Jamey Gambrell | Earthly Signs: Moscow Diaries, 1917-1922 | Yale | 2002

And you think you have problems.

Les Anciennes Maisons de Paris Sous Napoléon III, Tome Quatrième | link | 1873

First published in 1873, it contains charming descriptions, in French, of streets and buildings that were historic in 1873: “La maison ayant été refaite en 1849, cette légende figure encore sur sa façade, mais du côté du quai Napoléon. On lisait, de plus, a l’intérieur ‘Abélard, Héloïse, 1118,’ et quel curieux ne sentait pas son coeur battre en franchissant les dégres amants avaient échangé leurs adieux!” There are several books in the series; some can be purchased in facsimile editions from Amazon.

Catherine Mavrikakis, trans. Nathalie Stephens | A Cannibal and Melancholy Mourning | Coach House (first English translation) | 2000

Too expensive to buy right now, so I’m reading what’s available on Google Books to buttress the completion of my own death-and-cannibalism-obsessed projects. Referencing Foucault, Freud and Deleuze, Mavrikakis narrates the deaths of a series of friends, all named Hervé (she also refs the French novelist Herve Guibert). Doing so, she creates a viable, edible tomb which is also a kind of Holy Communion. On the subject of cannibalism . . .

Jacques Derrida | “An Interview with Jacques Derrida on the Limits of Digestion” by Daniel Daniel Birnbaum and Anders Olsson | e-flux journal #2 

Next on my list: Birnbaum and Olsson’s As A Weasel Sucks Eggs, An Essay on Melancholy and Cannibalism. Again, too expensive at the moment.

Richard Wilhem, trans. | The I Ching or Book of Changes | Princeton / Bollingen Series XIX | 1950

Re-read with Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Change is … um, good.

Dianne M. Connelly | All Sickness is Home Sickness | Centre for Traditional Acupuncture | 1986

Transcends ideas about acupuncture, treatment, health. Read it to get through an illness. “The symptom sits in the person’s history. It is a request for support; not support for simply getting rid of, or fixing it; but support for bearing it, for suffering it as an experience of life (sub, beneath + ferre, bear = suffering, undergoing); support for seeing the wisdom and embraceability of the symptom. It may even be said that a symptom, no matter how awesome or terrible, is life requesting to be embraced in all of its manifestations . . . A symptom is a way in to the whole, to the person’s story, to her history, to her ‘storied’ life.”


Sharon Mesmer’s poetry collections: The Virgin Formica (Hanging Loose, 2008) and Annoying Diabetic Bitch (Combo Books, 2008), Half Angel, Half Lunch (Hard Press, 1998) and the chapbooks Vertigo Seeks Affinities (Belladonna Books, 2006) and Crossing Second Avenue (ABJ Books, Tokyo, 1997). Fiction collections: Ma Vie à Yonago (in French from Hachette, 2005) and In Ordinary Time and The Empty Quarter (Hanging Loose 2005, 2000). A story excerpt, “Revenge,” appeared in I’ll Drown My Book: Conceptual Writing by Women (Les Figues 2012). Work also in Poetry, New American Writing, Women’s Studies Quarterly, West Wind Review, Abraham Lincoln and on the sites esque, The Wall Street Journal, Poets for Living Waters, and The Scream. Four poems will appear in the forthcoming Postmodern American Poetry: A Norton Anthology. Awards include Fulbright Specialist, Jerome Foundation/SASE (as co-recipient/mentor, with poet Elisabeth Workman, grantee) and two New York Foundation for the Arts fellowships.

Sharon Mesmer’s contributions to Attention Span for 2006. Back to 2012 directory.

Written by Steve Evans

October 1, 2012 at 8:30 am

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