Volume 68, Issue 1

Editorial

 

 

[What is an english now]1 

[One day a man called while I was out/And left this message: “You got the whole thing wrong/From start to finish. Luckily, there’s still time/To correct the situation, but you must act fast...Much besides your life depends on it.”]2 [A dream of eggplant or zucchini may produce fresh desires./Some fruits are vegetables. The way we bruise and wilt, all perishable.]3 [I wish I could tenderly lift from the dark side of history, voices. that are anonymous, slighted—inarticulate.]4 

[The dismantling of education—along with the other depredations underway under the aegis of austerity—is not figurative; it is all too literal.]5 [too much description, too RU-MAN-TICK]6 [This is my historical consciousness. I have no choice in it.]7 

[The custard is setting; meanwhile/I not only have my own history to worry about/But am forced to fret over insufficient details related to large/Unfinished concepts that can never bring themselves to the point/Of being, with or without my help, if any were forthcoming.]8 

[I don’t care/Where the legs of the legs of the furniture are walking to]9 [It’s very difficult to avoid, the student being lost in the beginning and the school set up to emphasize short-term performance]10 

[(I keep thinking that, finally, poetry is a branch of manners)]11 [the state of perplexity which initiates so many allegories]12 [Of the opening spaces]13 [The future, invited, comes back to rethink the situation]14 [The idea is to carry out a series of short-term “resource emancipations”]15 

[Being in the past—is jealousy on my part—in general]16 [that the word endows material substance, by setting the thing/named apart from all else.]17 [an intuition of an order, a form beyond forms, in which forms partake, and of which man’s creative works are analogies, resemblances, natural allegories. Such poetry is exploratory.]18 [NOT objects, merely materials...here, is what poem there is]19 

[These were meant to be read as any/Salutation before getting down to business,]20 

[1.] Myung Mi Kim, Commons 110 [2.] John Ashberry, Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror 3 [3.] Harryette Mullen, Recyclopedia 84 [4.] Susan Howe, The Quarry 181 [5.] Lyn Hejinian, “Wild Captioning” [6.] Charles Olson on the young poet Jonathan Williams, The Magpie’s Bagpipe 8 [7.] SH 180 [8.] JA 16 [9.] Mina Loy, “Songs to Joannes” [10.] Robert Irwin, Seeing Is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees 125 [11.] Jonathan Williams, The Magpie’s Bagpipe 12 [12.] Craig Owen, “The Allegorical Impulse” [13.] MMK, Dura 8 [14.] LH [15.] LH [16.] Leslie Scalapino “Aeleotropic Series” [17.] C. D. Wright, “In a Word, a World” [18.] Denise Levertov, “Some Notes on Organic Form” [19.] CO on JW 8 [20.] JA 9 

: Sophie Fitzpatrick & Sean Pierson 

 

 

 

 

 

forty-seven pages & cover 

CONTENTS CONTENTS CONTENTS CON-
TENTS CONTENTS CONTENTS CONTENTS
CONTENTS CONTENTS CONTENTS CON-

 

the couch came with the house 

by MAEVE O’ROURKE

 

 

the word lesbian is scary and i get mean when i’m in pain and being around my
mother has the same effect on me that snorting a gallon of salt water would. 

i often get the urge to run fast in the cold at night but i don’t usually. i do
                                                 drip
                                                       drop
                                                              boiling water onto my forearm sometimes though. 

the shar pei snores are loud and i can’t hear the tv and i am a cold person because
nobody and nothing matters to me. 

although i have three years now prided myself on being selfish, it isn’t a choice i
make anymore so much as all i know 

 

 

 

 

 

an alternate (kinder) letter to you

by MAEVE O’ROURKE

 

 

maybe depravity will force humanity out of us like alcohol-induced vomit, 
maybe i’ll feel something for the first time in three months and maybe you’ll stop
shoving ‘i love you’s out like sand through your teeth. 
when we met your eyes were glazed over with unfallen tears raised like fists, 
and they still are except now mine are too- 
the four of them a sleazy arm of black and blue demanding a justice
we thank a god we condemn will never be served. 
you hurt me permanently because you could and because it was fun
but i hurt you strategically to knock the wind out of you. 
we sleep in the same bed sometimes still
because for two masochists, we’ve comically low pain tolerances. 
i wonder whose is higher 

 

 

 

 

 

 

aid to Samael

by GABE DOYLE

 

 

I heard of you then saw
your visage craned for heaven, 
a neck exposed. 
Bless your body young. 

Now the day of our lord
past the turning point, our local guards arrive, 
angels driven appear, 
like saving grace. 

For our boy
                      in need of aid
without will or sense
through the body
or the mind. 

Still, you are, unknown, to me. 
I hope and love for you; 
unto you I dream of bliss 

in the body fully felt
in the body full and felt. 

The dawn will come
and you will rise
and maybe smile
at a night gone by 

now breathe
like boys pulled from lakes
voracious of air
without regret 

remember angel
you are blessed
you are forgiven
conscious-content
you live 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Desolation 

by UMANG KALRA




                                                             
                      

desolation    the                     word                  curved
on     my     tongue      in         the              shape   of
empty cities                        stones           crumbling
walls       peeling       into     paint       and       dust
that      sits        on         finger         tips              like
abandoned          memories          strewn          into
dusty  corners        homes        that         do        not
dress     up       decorate          deck       the        halls
every            Christmas          summer            winter
spring every holiday                  does                    not
taste    like       forgetting           does      not      take
the       shape     of     shoes      that      have      been
left      unworn      unwanted      by       feet       that
stomped       the       ground       so       hard       that
all      of      the      memories      woke      up      and
  scurried away                                                                      

 

 

 

 

 

don’t throw me away, throw me the way
to the light

by IMAAN BARI

 

 

in my dream the cat left kisses on my nose
how much do you love your mom
can i get this packed up to go
i only have time for you
listen to your sad songs
self torture builds character
emotional hardship in my mom’s car
you need to help me
i didn’t know i wanted that but you did

when you saw me and i didn’t see you
i hate lonely tasks
hey i love you okay
are you okay
yes why would you say that
i’m so enamoured by these faces
i give you my energy you give me your soul
 
there’s no arrogance in any of our friends
i have this soft spot for the socially sensitive
i want to learn and love
but like pure learning
the purest form
only youth oozing out of those cheeks
you can come play with us
i’m sorry i said so many things and didn’t give time to your things 

i am sorry but i just cannot provide this for you
why do they want to call me madam
good sore young men
express until your heart is content
i can be lonely with you
when you left i started to cry
we can’t call it hysteria because it’s not the 19th century anymore
the term can be adjusted but the symptoms remain
it’s all phallic and it means we can’t get involved
is it weird how sexual everything is
i have to grow up
if i seem childish no one will listen to me

it feels as though my heart will break and expand all at once
i have so much love so much
can i explain my insecurities to you
maybe it will help me understand them
i want to show off for everyone around me but only if they will love it
if they don’t then i think it will break me
i am so sensitive
you have heard this before
look at me now
i’m only smarter and better

if i don’t keep running i think everything could collapse
so i just take short breaths and go go go
it keeps buzzing in my head all the time
the bee station in my mind
i remember the steps and benches
it gives me pangs
i miss the incline of my voice as i would say your name too
i miss it
i miss you
i miss everything 

 

i miss all of my life
everyday i miss my past
if i don’t figure out how to stop
one day it will knock me out
one left punch right for my soul

letters are the physical symbol of that damn distance
i hate conceptual distance too
i wish i could keep everything in a tight ring around my little finger
even closer
i think these pains will make me a deep soulful girl
a deep soulful girl whose love knows no bounds
that’s my dreamy side
love to love you
i think it could destroy me
easy infatuation can do that
it rips up your stomach lining

i’m stubborn and decisive
i will get my way at all costs
if i don’t i’ll just change my way
that way no one sees the defeat
it’s how we cope
i think my sister hates that about me 

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Going Beyond the Words

   Why (and How) I’m Writing
   Things that Happen while Reading Rilke

by AUGUSTUS YOUNG

 

 

I was settling down to read La blonde dans l’auto avec des lunettes noir et un fusil, 
a thriller, when I heard on radio that a man had been shot dead down the road at the Spanish border, and a blond woman had been arrested (no doubt wearing dark glasses. It was high noon on a sunny day). Fiction imitating reality is a respectable art form, but reality imitating the title of a best-seller gives it a bad name.

Not wishing to pre-empt the headlines in tomorrow’s paper, l browsed in the Belle Époque junk shop for a book to read at breakfast, and came across Rainer Maria Rilke’s only novel Die aufzeichnungen des Malte Laurids Brigge (1910). It was a gift from World War Two: the name and date on the fly leaf was Max von Ebrennac, 8th July 1943 (a year later the parting Germans blew up Port-Vendres).

I first read The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge in 1970 when I was twenty-seven, the same age as Malte, a Danish exile in Paris, and Rilke when he moved there in the early 1890s. As an Irish poet in London who wrote under an assumed name almost as unlikely as Malte Laurids Brigge, I devoured it as though reading about the twin brother I never had. Indeed, the title of the translation I had found in Camden Mar-ket was The Journal of My Other Self (1930).  

  I couldn’t say what the book was ‘about’, and that put it in the advanced guard of the avant-garde. Although presented as a novel, it is a ragbag of
everything fiction isn’t supposed to do. It starts as the diary of Malte and, by way of flashbacks to his childhood, diversifies into surreal stories on historical subjects. Then it tapers off with a homily on the state of the protagonist’s soul. And yet it holds together by an existential thread. Malte is ‘living an idea’ in the Kierkegaardian sense: ‘Although the world is like a global hospital where people come to die, I hope to discharge myself by becoming a poet, and thus live forever’. 

My flatmate Joab Comfort gave The Notebooks his critical nod. ‘It’s an auto-fiction. Rilke’s self-portrait, more faithful to the atmosphere of the truth than the letter. The neo-Romantic Symbolist poet has grown up.’  In our hand-printed Museletter we had previously dismissed Rilke for his ‘marmoreal Duino Elegies with its Order of the Angels and figurative abstractions’. Rilke’s vogue was at a height with the ‘Twenty Cambridge Poets’ (TCP) that met at Anthony Rudolf ’s apartment in Primrose Hill.  And so, going on to praise Rilke’s ‘Existential novel as superseding the anachronistic verse’ was dangerous. But that’s how we literary youths liked to live.  

The English translation seemed strangely foreign. I had chosen Technical German as my language option in Pre-Med, and used it over the years to translate Brecht’s sonnets. I was therefore able to check the English against the original in the Goethe Institute library. I soon realised the translation was piously literal, as though Rilke’s idiom was sacred. The effect was as faintly comical as Mel Brook’s ‘Springtime for Hitler’ (‘hallo’ pronounced ‘hEllo’, a goosestep in the vowel). Before I had time to complete the parallel reading, Joab borrowed my copy for a girlfriend and, when they broke up, I hadn’t the heart to ask for it back. Anyway, I had moved on to Kierkeg-aard, and was already chronicling my own Journal of My Other Self, entitled ‘Who is Talking in my Head’.

Lost and Found

Now forty years on, Die aufzeichnungen des Malte Laurids Brigge once again fell on thorns. I found that learning French in my sixties was at the expense of my German. I wore out a Francais-Allemand dictionnaire to decipher Malte’s opening entry in his diary (September 11, the only dated one):

The young poet, rather than suffer insomnia in silence, opens the
window and listens to the night-life in the street – rattling trams,
 lovers’ quarrels, glass being broken – until at dawn he hears a dog
bark and falls asleep.                                                                                             

I threw the dictionary away and read on as though in someone else’s dream. But the soul-searching ending woke me at dawn. It didn’t seem to follow from what came before. Could I be reading another book? Something by Delmore Schwartz came to mind. Not his ‘In Dreams Begin Responsibilities’, but a poem with the immortal line, ‘I am the octopus in love with God’. Only it was the other way around with Malte.  He is the odd fish who asks if God loves him. Rilke’s answer is inconclusive.

I didn’t give Rilke another thought, until the following year the town hall had a one-man show of his Letters to a Young Poet. It was attended by seven people and a dog. The audience, stunned by what seemed like high-minded twaddle, didn’t realise the performance had ended until the dog barked. The dog revitalised my interest in Rilke. He had picked up the scent.

Since The Journal of My Other Self there have been several English translations. The most recent, Michael Hulse’s for Penguin Classics (2008), is light and reader-friendly, and contains notes that elucidate Rilke’s elliptical references to historical events and figures. Hulse deftly leapfrogs over the prickly hedgehog prose and makes it seem easy. But Rilke’s style is deliberately spiked with quirks and qualifications to avoid being read as simplistic. Smoothing it out does just that. And so, I felt that reaching an understanding with The Notebooks would best be negotiated through Der Schwer (‘The Difficult’). Rilke made a cult of it, coating his style with metonymy, synecdo-che, oxymoron and mixed metaphors, until you learn to accept approximate mean-ings as part of his mystique.

I made my mind up to choose as my preferred text Maurice Betz’s enduring French translation, Les Cahiers de Malte Laurids Brigge (1929). The Betz translation had the approval of Rilke, whose second language was French (as it’s mine for reading). This was likely to be as close as I could get to his complicated German (the diametrical opposite to Brecht’s plain-speak). I would, of course, check phrases that appeared odd against the original.

If this seems like studying Marx in Russian rather than German, so be it, I told my-self. All readers have their limits, and I know mine. Even the most assiduous scholar of Rilke has Der Schwer to deal with. But ‘The Difficult’ isn’t a matter of language for Rilke: ‘Happy are those who know that behind every language there stands that which is beyond words’. Language was only a front for ‘spiritual presences’ that in-habited him and prompted felt thoughts (ideas that sound right, and so their meaning can be presumed rather than spelt out).

But conscious that I was in danger of taking Rilke too much on trust, I resolved to submerge myself in his writings from the time he started The Notebooks (circa 1902). By living with his work, I could hope to get better acquainted with the ‘spiritual presences’, and make more sense of what Robert Graves called Rilke’s ‘supra-logical thought processes’. After all, unconditional surrender to the words is the best policy for poetry with a latent meaning, and mystics like John of the Cross.   

The Thread

In preparing to write The Notebooks, Rilke studied Flaubert’s L’Education Sentimentale, a novel that, notoriously loses well-disposed readers. Although Rilke was hoping that his book would make money so he could avoid having a job, that did not stop him from making it less likely by imitating Flaubert’s musical chairs of time-shifts, and devilish detail, or attempting to emulate the master’s reason for writing it, ‘To create a moral history of men of my generation or, more precisely, a history of their feelings’.

  The narrative is not dissimilar, a young man making his way in Paris. But, whereas Flaubert’s Moreau is ‘adrift a boat eternally tossed by his own illusions’, Malte is a lost soul who goes with the flow, untroubled by the distinction between illusion and reality. The influence, however, didn’t go as far as prose so scrupulously cunning that Flaubert with a single word in the opening sentence gives away the plot. The name of the river-station where Moreau, embarks in Paris, La Ville-de-Montereau, contains an anagram: ‘La vie lente de Moreau’, Moreau’s meandering life. Rilke is less playful with his plot, keeping it to himself, and Malte’s life is as flotsam, swept along by the rapids.

Rilke’s structure for The Notebooks could be drawn from Schopenhauer’s metaphor for life: an embroidery in which the first half is the upside that presents the design, and the second half is the underside that shows how the threads have been worked together. The first part of the book is woven from day-to-day diaries, and coloured by childhood memories. The second part turns this rather conventional pattern upside down and inside out: Malte remembers a long-lost nursery book of potted history given to him by his grandmother, and reconstructs stories from it. They are mainly bloody: the sordid fate of Gricha, the False Tsar of Russia, Charles the Bold’s dis-embodied hands and other surreal horrors. At first, I assumed this sleight of literary needlecraft is meant to patch together the precarious state of Malte’s soul. But, on reflection, the ingenuity with which they are unravelled - Rilke at his generous best - suggests he is stitching up the idea that Malte is living: the lost soul finds himself as a poet through fictive winks at history.

But, no. In the last few pages Rilke abruptly changes track. Malte becomes a third person. The authorial voice takes over, and the narrative wanders off to re-interpret the Prodigal Son as ‘the man who doesn’t want to be loved’. Then in the last para-graph a Supreme-Being makes a late entry as the only one who could possibly love Malte but alas is hesitating. The book ends with that.

Joab Comfort opines that Rilke was fishing for a big idea, but it didn’t bite, and so he settles for God and a catchy throwaway line. I’m not so sure on checking the original. God is never named, and hitherto in The Notebooks He was either an exclamation or a historical reference point. The final sentences are constructed with High Ger-man nuances that challenge translation. For instance, Hulse renders the hesitation as ‘He is not willing’. Betz’s French goes for a more promising ‘not yet’ (ne voulait pas encore). Rilke capitalises the supreme-being only once, and that is at the beginning of a sentence. This suggests that the hesitating ‘he’ could be the all-seeing Rilke (in literary terms God and the author are one and the same). My tentative deconstruc-tion is that the ending is about self-love: Malte and Rilke come together in the Prodigal Son who doesn’t want to be loved, not even by himself. 

But Betz’s ‘not yet’, unlike Hulse’s ‘not willing’, allows for a future change of heart. Standing back from the path of virtue, and indeed vice, was something RiIke ap-pears to have practised in his personal life. It surely was a factor when a few years later he started translating St Augustine’s Confessions. Although the Prodigal Son, and his debaucheries, precedes the final paragraph of The Notebooks, I think the context is salvation through love, rather than chastity (Rilke’s preferred state as he found the alternative ‘undignified’, according to Richard Demel). However, in the absence of a declaration from a ‘spiritual presence’, Rilke simply didn’t know if he loved himself, let alone if the higher power loved him. And he was content to leave it at that.  

‘Salvation through ignorance’ rang a Kierkegaardian bell. And I learned from Rilke’s letters that he had been studying the Danish philosopher in the early 1900s. On further investigation, I discovered that, sure enough, he had picked out a passage that accords with my hunch in a letter to Clara, his unfortunate fiancé, ‘It is the duty of the thinking man to understand that there are things which cannot be understood. In the consciousness of his ignorance is his salvation’. His uncertainty about loving himself, or being loved by a supreme being had been borrowed from Kierkegaard (who got it from Socrates).

That is what Rilke was thinking, but how he was feeling was something else. The only real religion in Rilke’s life was his ‘spiritual presences’, with whom he was in communion with for his poetry. Is he concluding that the idea Malte was living had not been realised, but who knows what the future holds? His surreal stories are on the brink of being prose poems. Given that the reason for writing The Notebooks in the first place was to buy time and money to concentrate exclusively on writing poems, was Rilke, through Malte, giving his own poetry a future? Like Proust with Remembrance of Things Past, the narrator, not Marcel, is the protagonist. Rilke may romance the facts of his own experience as a child and a young man in Paris, but there is little doubt he is writing about himself. But, unlike Proust with Marcel, and indeed Flaubert with Moreau, Rilke was of an age with Malte, give or take a few years. And so, The Notebooks are in the existential present rather than the recollected past of the L’Education Sentimentale, and A La Recherche du Temps Perdu.      

Encouraged by the Kierkegaard find, I started doing some embroidery of my own, hoping to knit together the loose threads of the childhood histories so the ‘leap of faith’ from Malte’s diary to the Prodigal Son and the godly ending could be bridged. Alas my attempts proved disheartening. The only conjunctions between the main narrative and what followed was editorial. In Betz the gaps were merely indicated by spacing, and in Hulse by numbered sections. This was not Rilke’s doing. He wrote the text as a continuum. He did preface the stories as memories of the potted children’s history. This lead me to his letters, but I couldn’t find a mention of the Little Green Book, or any comments on the structure of The Notebooks. I was un-rolling a ball of string. The connection between the stories and ‘the man who didn’t want to be loved’ and the godly ending was Malte, but their significance was only known to Rilke, his alter ego, and he took it to the grave. 

I returned to the idea of ignorance as a salvation. As with Kierkegaard, it prob-ably had more to do with Rilke’s life than the writing. For instance, ignorance of how others feel could act as a moral sedative for doing what you want. Unkind, but Rilke was famously subjective to himself and objective to others, reversing the Kierkegaardian ideal for a good man. But this judgement was based on the legend and biographical snippets I had picked over the years. Maybe Rilke needed to be saved from my ignorance. In order to be just, I would have to delve deeper into his personal life. The task was daunting. Mountains of memoirs, correspondences and photographs beckoned. Still if I limited them, like the writings, to the first decade of the 20th century, the period he was working on The Notebooks, it could be faced.

For light relief, I reread Delmore Schwartz’s poem about the octopus in love with God, and I got more than I bargained for:

‘I am the octopus in love with God
For thus in my desire inconclusible (sic)
Until my mind deranged in swimming tubes
Issues its own darkness, clutching seas
- O God of my perfect ignorance’

Could Schwartz, who flatly rejected European ‘either/or’ for American ‘know-how’, have been reconciled to Socrates by reading Rilke (or Kierkegaard)? I looked up Berryman’s memories of his late friend, and only found one reference to Rilke:

‘Rilke is a jerk’.

If Rilke was the man who didn’t want to be loved (it brought responsibilities that interfered with his poetry), he would not have been displeased.  

The Transformation

My constant companion is the talking in my head. It began when I was a boy. I was rehearsing what I should say to others. As what I said was not always received as intended, I started writing down what the talking suggested, tailoring it to how I thought others saw me. And when I quoted myself, I was taken at their face value, for better or worse. The dialogue between my head and the page deepened into chronicling what I should say to myself. Thus, my serious writing began in solip-sism. But, when people heard me talking to myself, they wanted to know what I was saying. So, I began to pass morsels of my chronicles around. Some of them got published.

When I embarked on Rilke the talking expressed a certain impatience. Why are you bothering about a poet you never liked? I argued back that I hoped to find out if it was a prejudice or not, before it was too late. Once I was absorbed into Malte’s world, he became a living presence who brokered for me an uneasy complicity with his creator. I increasingly responded to him on Malte’s behalf as though it was my own. During the three years that I co-habited with Rilke’s life and works, he became the talking in my head.

But a strange thing was happening. While my life interacted with Malte’s fictive one, his interacted with mine. This transference crept up on me. Events happened to me on the street that seemed more like him than me. I chronicled them in parallel with my reading. One night I experienced an episode of sleepwalking, and next day discovered that I had transcribed a passage from The Book of Job in my Chronicle (‘Those younger than me hold me in derision, whose fathers I would have set my dogs’). This echoed Malte’s daydream of a writerly apocalypse when ‘glorious words’ appear on the page that were not his. Why The Book of Job? Malte, like Rilke, was from a prosperous family that had come down in the world, and Joab Comfort burdened me with a copy when I started on the Rilke trail, saying, ‘You’re going to suffer but, like Job, it will all come out alright in the end’.

The Rilke in my head made it painfully clear that to understand him I ought to engage with questions I preferred not to think about. I thought of unanswered ones in my life, and could only come up with ‘Why is love’s course less brief than honour’s’ (AE Coppard). But the talking said that love and honour are Lesser Ineffables. You need to confront the Great ones - death, God, and (im)mortality. True, I had never written about them directly, and it was probably time, not least because they became the main themes of Rilke’s late poetry. Yet after a few dizzy moments I hesitated. ‘Eff the ineffables’, said Beckett. 

I preferred not to think of Rilke’s prolific output. While gestating The Notebooks he published nine books of poetry and a number of monographs (mostly tributes to contemporary artists like Auguste Rodin, the sculptor and Cezanne). I dipped into the poems and concentrated on his first truly Modernist ones, the ‘Thing-poems’ (dinggedichte). They were inspired by Rodin. In them the human world is broached in non-human terms, objectified like a child playing with his toys, or a fisherman with his tackle. The simulacrum of the natural in the spinner and bait, and of the grown-up world with the doll, is their ‘thingamajig’ (the German word, dinggedichte, has a soupcon of levity). The idea is very Cartesian. We are all things. But after the modest reception of The Notebooks on publication in 1910, he abandoned them for the Great Ineffables, and the Expressionism of the Duino Elegies, his Human Comedy, only completed two years before his death (1925). 

Then there were the letters. Rilke’s alone would take a lifetime. He wrote them like Irish poets talk in Dublin pubs. I concentrated on those to Clara, the wife he sent back to her parents the baby, but refused a divorce; Lou Salomé, nearly his lover and lifelong confidant; and Franz Xaver Kappus, the recipient of his Letters to a Young Poet. At least I was learning about Rilke, the man of verbal action. Their content overlaps, and Rilke’s different angulation for each of them gives the correspondence a third dimension. As he didn’t keep letters, the only way to decipher how they were received was to read his next one. The long letters to Clara and Lou could serve as the basis of his intimate biography. 

‘Trespass Vision’ 

My friend Anthony Rudolf wrote a book about reading entitled, Silent Conversations (Seagull Books, 2013). I too enjoy a quiet chat with authors I meet between the covers. They become part of the talking in my head. This had never been the case when reading Rilke’s poetry. He seems to be talking to himself, and himself alone. If I was to broaden our dialogue, I would need to get ‘inscape’ into his poems  so my response would be empathic. 

But on the page, we didn’t talk the same language. True, I had kept my small German ticking over by translating Bertolt Brecht. But Rilke’s archaic High German idiom and stylistic jumpiness had driven me to bilingual editions, with German the recessive language. I wasn’t hearing him. And so, I set myself to speak his poems out loud in the original, particular those written concurrently with The Notebooks, working with a pronunciation crib. 

I was already familiar with the guttural intonation, possibly from listening to the German students who came to Cork to learn English after the Second World War. Soon I was able to appreciate the softening of the rather military metre from German tradition he tended to use, and the full force of the rhetorical flourishes. However, going beyond that wasn’t helped by his see-saw meanings, sometimes brilliantly clear, and other times lost in the mist. I got the measure of some ‘thing-poems’, like the famous ‘Panther’. But in the more discursive poems the grandiosities and obfuscations that had put me off before continued to be a stumbling block. 

Despairing of ever ‘seeing’ Rilke ‘plain’, I resorted to a drastic means of divining where and what he was at. Reading between the lines of his long poem ‘Requiem to a Friend’ (1908), I found myself embellishing his work in translation with words and phrases, suggested by him, but not spelt out. The poem is about Paula Modersohn Becker, an artist friend, who died in childbirth, and closet medical details vie with inchoate ideas from philosophers (Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard) to express his bereft refusal to mourn the death of an unrequited first love. My presumption was emboldened by Tillie Olsen’s concept of ‘trespass vision’. That is, in the case of an impasse in understanding, trespassing beyond the received view in order to unriddle what is really going on. 

Tillie Olsen was inspired by Virginia Woolf ’s observation that ‘literature is no one’s private ground. Literature is common ground. Let us trespass freely and fearlessly and find our own way for ourselves’. You can go against the formal logic of literary theory and, by crossing imagination with experience of life, arrive at a view that is clear. It’s a process of translation – in the ontological or existential sense – and not unreasonable. Conventional criticism presupposes that the text is written on tablets of stone. But writing, as much as reading, is remembering, and the memory is selective, subjectively triaged, and so it can be as unreliable as recalling dreams, or a storyteller spinning a yarn. Olsen believed that the writer ought to be held to account for his or her work, and if this is not possible, accounted for by the application of common sense. 

Rewriting Rilke? 

I needed to consult someone, other than the Rilke in my head. I visited Joab Comfort. He was not impressed. ‘Taking liberties with a text in order to clarify supposed ideas is a place where academic angels fear to tread, but bedeviled journalists revel in: get your facts right and then distort them as you please.’ 

‘But it’s difficult not to distort Rilke’s ideas, Joab. He refers to them himself as ‘Desperate exaggerations attempting to get to the bottom of my Sincerity’. Often, they need to be brought down to size.’ 

‘Others, Augustus, less burdened with the need to understand will accept that what’s not clear in a work of literature is how it was meant to be.’ 

‘But no one has a direct line to the writer’s intentions. Roland Barthes says, ‘The writer produces presumptive meanings for the reader to confirm, or not. But no two readers are the same. The text is a tabula rasa for the gently innocent to the brutally knowing. It is re-written in the reading’.’ 

‘And so fresh distortions are inevitable any time anyone opens a book?’ 

‘Yes, Joab. The notion that a work of literature has a single meaning is for the textual scholars. I’m on the side of Plato, ‘Art has to open up ideas’. For example, ‘Trespass vision’ is normal for most readers: we retell to ourselves what the book or poem means to us. True, it has its hazards for the writer. A different meaning can be drawn other than the intended one. And so, the writer can be misrepresented by those who claim to love and admire him. But it’s the writers own fault. When the meaning is not convincingly clear, the reader is free to invite his own opinions, and it is open house for anyone’s guess’. 

‘You mean the way of literature is the way of misunderstanding?’ 

‘No. But if you didn’t know John Keats was a medical ‘dresser’ you wouldn’t understand a sizeable number of his poems. Rilke risks misunderstanding even more than most. He privileges himself with felt ideas, based on Michael Polanyi’s ‘tacit knowledge’, the kind you understand but don’t know why. You may say that’s poetry. But poems ought to make sense as well as music. Rilke’s respect for literary logic is intermittent. And without reasonable consistency a poem can mean anything or 

nothing. In my reading I’m tempted to claim allegiance with Roland Barthes’ la nouvelle critique who practices conjectural reconstruction of what he considers ‘tautological texts’. That is, ‘a work which dispenses the author from having ideas, but at the same time prides itself on making this license into a stern morality; whence its success - laziness promoted to the rank of rigour’ In effect, Barthes’ nouvelle critique rewrites books all the better to make sense of them. 

‘But, Augustus, Barthes changed his mind, and declared the nouvelle critique a nouvelle imposture. ‘Who’s to say what is a tautology’, he asked.’ 

‘He was just as likely to change it back. But I know a Barthian alibi won’t suffice for my renderings of some of Rilke’s writing. I’ve gone back to how I always read a book or poem. I search for the one sure idea in it: the underlying one. The why it was written. And it resides in the writer’s subconscious which is the richest of swards. The reader picks wild flowers from it to analyse the nature of the soil-bed, where the idea germinates. By submerging yourself in the soil-bed of words the reason for writing, its raison d’etre, eventually becomes obvious.’ 

‘Soil-beds and raison d’etres! You’ve been reading too much Rilke. But you owe me an example?’ 

‘Keats. He justified his soil-bed of words by citing Locke’s ‘negative capability’, an idea that he stole from Coleridge’s ‘negative faith’ (‘Trust me. I know what I’m not doing’). But Coleridge was too self-conscious to leave it at that. He wrote copious notes on poems in progress, and gave himself a bad time, having more reasons for writing it than he could handle. ‘Work without Hope draws nectar in a sieve’.’ 

‘‘And Hope without an object cannot live’. I hope, Augustus, you haven’t forgotten your object: to make Rilke live?’ 

‘Keats meant something special to the young Rilke, though he read him in German, not having any English. But he was closer to Coleridge in practice. Like Coleridge, he endlessly studied the navel of his poems, writing daily letters to friends on work in progress. ‘Unwriting them’ as Lou Salomé jibed’. 

‘And now you’re re-writing Rilke?’ 

‘No. I’m reconstructing him by going beyond the objective evidence’. 

‘You mean the written evidence. I fear, Augustus, trespass visionaries will be persecuted by most of my colleagues. You are your own worst critic’. 

‘Or best reader’. 

‘Read on Macpherson’. 

Banging Heads Together

Joab, like Dr Johnson, was being unfair to Macpherson. The Scot was shamed for peddling his poetry as Ossian’s, a mythical bard. It was no different to the German marine novelist who published under the assumed name Patrick O’Brian, and was acclaimed. And unfair to me too. My translations by trespass could be compared to modernising the Bible into common parlance. Although I don’t sacrifice the beauty of expression in King James for literal accuracy in the prayer sheet. I merely incorporate into the text what would be annotations if Rilke acknowledged borrowings and/or made himself clear. Moreover, the free-translation of poems is widely accepted in the literary world. Why can’t it be extended to prose passages when they don’t contribute to the overall coherence, and the work’s raison d’etre is in doubt? 

Mindful that my submergence in Rilke’s soil-bed of words was in danger of becoming too subjective, I supplemented my interpretations where possible from Rilke’s other writings. Especially the letters, which include, not only his own comments on work-in-progress, but what he was reading. When I detected an idea or a half-quote from, say, Kierkegaard, or a medical textbook, I didn’t hesitate to complete it, provided it offers explanatory support to the original. This was sometimes necessary with The Notebooks, but even more so with the letters. 

Reading a writer’s mind is a game all readers play. Letters are a free for all. Particularly when like Rilke’s they were tossed off in batches, and prone to diversify with poetical flights, uncertain in sense. Letters are usually read at speed and, if over a page long, the recipient is tempted to skip to the end in order to find out what the sender is up to. However, a dedicated letter-writer like Rilke would be expert at strategic padding to forestall the effect of the penultimate sentence in order to maximise it. For instance, with Clara and the young poet Kappus, hyperbolic flattery at the outset is usually followed by kites of impressionistic ideas which when grounded come down to nothing particularly important except to himself. But the signing off - conspicuous impatience or fulsome praise - is the message that will sink in. 

Correspondence is a fuelling art, burnt up by the answer and rekindled by the next letter. The fact that Rilke didn’t keep letters, gifted me a double take. I put myself in the place of the recipient, gauging how the letter would have been read. Clues from Rilke’s dutiful responses to items previously raised and biographical delving prompted a conjectural reconstruction. 

However, The Notebooks and Letters to A Young Poet are something else. The Notebooks were published in his lifetime and Letters a year after his death (edited by the ‘young poet, Kappus’). My versions of passages from the Letters are frequently as free as when I adapt a poem which can’t stand on it its own in English if literally rendered. I incorporate suggestive additions into the text to point up what I adjudge from circumstantial evidence is behind it. I suppose it is a form of arbitration, mediating between the ambiguous and the obvious. In effect, Rilke and me are (more through the Letters than the poems) in empathic dialogue. Joab questioned this, ‘You can’t be inside two heads at the same time’. But I stood up to him. ‘You can bang them together. Seeing stars can be illuminating’. Joab gave me a strange look. 

Despite the apparent impertinence of my translation by trespass, I very much hope to pay homage to Rilke’s art. I’d like to think that the method I’ve chosen is analogous to musical transcriptions. A composer pays tribute to another with an alternative reading. It’s an honorable tradition practiced by Bach, Beethoven, Brahms and, above all, Liszt. The original composition is reworked so it can be understood and appreciated by a wider audience. I ask myself, why couldn’t transcriptions be applied to literature? 

The talking in my head sighed, ‘that sings for me’. 

Reading Writing

Kierkegaard prefaced his Point of View for My Work as an Author (1848), ‘I prefer to regard myself as a reader of my books, rather than as the author’. I shyly agree, though I never re-read mine. But it’s other writers’ books that makes it true for me. Reading writing has animated my life. Far from being a quiet still moment to escape from the hurly-burly of life, reading is all action. You take up the book, dip in, let slip, interpose passing thoughts and emotions, lay it down to pick up again and shamefully sneak-preview the ending, and in between live an ordinary everyday life. I leave screens and technology to the cinema, and so books for me are still a palpable presence: dog-leaved, coffee-stained, and sometimes left behind in a restaurant, borrowed and not returned, put the wrong way around on the bookshelf. I’ve been known to go to sleep while reading, waking up with the book clutched to my chest, and my spectacles lost in the bedding. Books happen to me. Words appear on the page and they tell their story. However, Walter Benjamin argues, all true stories have a beginning, a middle, but no ending. The adventure is ‘to be continued’. And so perhaps my ratiocinations on the last paragraph of The Notebooks were desperate exaggerations attempting to get to the bottom of Rilke’s Sincerity (to paraphrase the master of quiddity). 

Camus says the longer it takes to write a book the quicker it can be read. Rilke could have been his exemplar. He wrote at a pace that would make Balzac seem like a laggard. His fable, The Lay of the Love and Death of Cornet Christoph Rilke, took two nights (this prose rhapsody proved his only best-seller, becoming a backpack accessory for soldiers in the First World War). Rilke resists easy reading. More than most writers, I find, he’s subject to lift and lay. The exception is the ‘Thing poems’. They can be read in a breath. And no doubt he laboured long to perfect their light-hearted prosody. 

We know from his correspondence that The Notebooks were written in short bursts and he took over six years to complete the it. The part written as a diary can be read quickly, which suggests it was labour-intensive. However, progressively as you enter the historical stories, and the doxological conclusion beckons, one slows down. I think he may simply have rounded off Malte’s story in a hurry, knowing there was no end to it. Nevertheless, that does not mean the final paragraph signifies nothing. Malte’s life may be flotsam, swept along by the rapids, but felt thoughts are not less meaningful for being fleeting. 

Interim Conclusions

I set out to make sense of The Notebooks but realised when comparing translations with the original that for a conjectural reconstruction I was playing solitaire with an incomplete deck of cards. I was encouraged by the thought that the missing cards had been sent to Rilke’s most faithful correspondents. He only revealed his hand in letters to Lou, and to a lesser extent with Clara and Kappus. This third dimension makes it a four-hander, and it is possible to read his cards over their shoulders, and with trespass vision to unriddle his game. But this has proved optimistic. Trespass vision has to be informed not only by his coterminous writings but a reading of his life. 

The pursuit of love and happiness for Rilke was subservient to the pure poet’s cultivation of a solitary existence in order to ponder the eternal questions and write poems. He so arranged temporal concerns to make this possible, solving the job problem by becoming the preferred poet of the cultured wives of rich patrons who clamoured to put him up in their hunting lodges. He maintained his marriage by remote control through letters, and occasional lightning visits. This lead to a form of love he could accept. When struggling to finish The Notebooks, Clara looked after him in his Paris attic, and in 1924 when Rilke’s leukaemia began to gallop, she visited him in the castle one of his platonic women admirers did up for him in Switzerland. He made a remarkable recovery, and lived long enough to enjoy a lap of honour in Paris. André Gide and Paul Valéry organised a soirée, and everyone worth the name in literary Paris came except James Joyce. The reason for that is another story, which Things that Happen while Reading Rilke will tell. 

The task of any serious writer is contradictory. You aspire to put the ineffable meaning of life and love into comprehensible words. Mystics make the ineffables into prayers. Theologians search within them for revelations. The poets and philosophers ply their figures of speech in order to bring them down-to-earth and humanise them, or alternatively raise them up to give them an abstract significance. 

This leads to a conversation with readers which, once the work is abandoned to publication, is one-sided. Only the reader can answer back. This is the hazard of committing any thought or feeling to paper. Kierkegaard saw the writer as best protected from misunderstanding by being ‘objective with yourself and subjective towards others’. Rilke’s world-turning character works the other way around.Maybe that’s why it’s easier to love the writing rather than the man. But it’s a common failing amongst writers, myself included. In my life while reading Rilke the transference brought that home. I came to recognise elements I don’t like in myself, and I think it makes it easier to be fair to him. I don’t want my book to be a labour of hate. 

Travelling with Rilke, through Paris and childhood, into the dark interior of Malte is not for the fainthearted. I have signposted it with a running account of how my engagement with Rilke has affected me in daily life. I put this in context with a bow to Roland Barthes (Le plaisir du texte (1973), ‘I have no biography. Or, rather, since the time of the first line I wrote…I am an unstable collection of fragments. The subject that I am is not unified. Freewheeling in language, I have nothing to compare myself to…Still these fragments have nothing to hide…I am the story that happens to me’. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Warbler

by BENJAMIN KEATINGE

 

 

It is here again, 
This wispy, zephyrous warbling
That haunts the garden. 

Somnambulant fugue
Of euphonious loops and coils
And yet no singer. 

Tomorrow, the winds
Are coming, and rain, like Nineveh, 
Will end this music. 

Leaving me only
These red leaves that simmer and boil
With brazen anger. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Historical Fragment

by JAY MULHALL

 

 

We were the more talented race, we double-bodied, 
sufficient to your demands, held in your charms’ force, reciprocal, 
O ministrants! We noticed the summer’s going
(how we were cheeked for it!), knew music and its context, 
understood and learned to control our given materials: 
the fortress, the enfranchised people, the death by trial
of one who volunteered his end, the State which rises like a tree... 
We lived in gentleness, imagining Love in terms heraldic, unruly
in those years of the great rule, under which all signs became their opposites. No gospel to us but the long-familiar tales: how the provinces revolted
when the stormish season was peaked, after years of humiliation, 
and launched a barb into the salons; how our fathers discovered – studious, 
hidden up in the mountains – laws of order and growth; and how, 
one year, in high bitterness, the poets simply left. 


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wrong turn 04:57 

by PHELIM Ó'LAOGHAIRE

 

 

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I reach across your body for my phone in the dark which is strange 

by PHELIM Ó LAOGHAIRE

 

 

The sun rises. The sun doesn’t stop rising for days. I reach across your body for my phone in the dark which is strange. Someone manages to shoot it on video. It goes viral - this is all real now. Men women and children cry all morning. Afternoon after afternoon but there is nothing for the sun to set on. We give up. The nightclubs close. Everyone in the street is a tourist. Flat earth believers. Summer becomes a swear word. We try video call. I tell you I’m fine. We talk about the weather. You tell me you’ll escape under the cover of night. We laugh. Shall I compare thee to a - we laugh. The lights go out. Everyone is on their phone. After I say that I love you and I’ve been shot, that I can see the universe pouring out of a hole in my head, that I haven’t much time, I can see white, that the children are - that’s when I realise my phone has died. How long I can’t say. I black out. What if everything changed tonight? I ask most nights as we prepare for bed, the only light that of your cigarette end, the thin smoke escaping into the corners of the dark, the dark escaping through a hole that is in my head. Angels leave the visible world via back door onto the street. What if the sun didn’t rise? What if we stayed up a moment longer? And everyone else? You try and untangle my limbs like words. Or did I mean my words like limbs? But nothing fits. You change the tenses. I relax - disappear. Someone can open a sliding door like a phone now. Only the motion on screen is an illusion of the changing lights. Only they are so small. Gun is as real as when I say you had a gun and shot me. How real is me now? I have missed calls just enough left for a cigarette some words to get me home. Angels exit the real world via instant messaging. Can you see me now, even with the street lights low? You read my text and answer but I’m distracted. The sun is setting. A hundred million mobile phones are ready waiting. The universe’s most miraculous practical joke is a four month video and I’m in a hospital bed, pretending my cigarette is your cigarette and my street is our bed and this head is in a hospital and the universe is pouring out onto the sheets and strangers’ phones, collecting and scattering my ashes in real time. Everyone goes about their day as usual, waiting for the next revolution. My last words will be posted online with a self portrait that looks like a cigarette burn. I’ve been calling out my name all night. You answer. I call back in the morning but the phone dies - this is real again. Nothing is left as it was; not the sun not the children. 


 

 

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Extinction 

by RÓISÍN RYAN

 

 

At the rate this rain is going, 
It’s going to have our hard-earned secularism
Washed out and away within the week. 
I see it, 
Pooling in the cement sag
Halfway between the old convent front door
And the stolid backyard prefabs: 
A vision of the birth of the world
In slick black tarmac and quivering rain. 
An accidental ocean, blinking and new, 
Uncomprehending as it swells and seethes upward
To soak schoolgirls’ knee-high socks; 
Sending eyes ticking heavenward
With cries of ‘Jesus Christ!’ 
Halfway between invocation and provocation. 
It’s raining, it’s raining, it’s raining. 
How long is it, then, 
Till we gather them up? 
Two foxes, two crows, two hares, two badgers - 
All adrift on a newly puffed-chest prefab, 
Itself bore up on the pig of fortune’s back. 
‘Indeed, it was a good thing
We didn’t get around to getting the extension built
In the end.’ 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Faceless, tasteless 

by DÓNAL WALSH

 

 

Stemless flower; my hyacinth in her broken azure, 
Like the sourceless yearning of the pines, 
Once paired with the surreal haze, and now its unreal fruit. 
We ate in dares the empty shells of sound, 
The cicada by then much further above the ground. 

Hours, years, searching bark for the specimen, 
Yet even when it was found I couldn’t see
How dull paper lantern wings could provoke
such a buzz. There; living out a stoic absense before us. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[To be titled at a later date] 

by MAYA BUSHELL

 

 

What majesty is there
To pall-bear your own funeral? 
To stand tall with yourself, 
Shoulder to shoulder, 
A post-and-lintel construction.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Skinned

by FLORENCE HEAP

 

 

A very long time ago St Bartholomew was martyred for converting the king of Armenia to Christianity. His skin was peeled off his body and he was crucified upside down on the orders of a man named Astyages. The name of the person who actually took his skin off his body is unknown. Having your skin peeled off is not what actually kills you. Sometimes people can live for up to four days without any skin. Then they usually die of infection, hypothermia or the shock of finding that they no longer have any skin. 

Skin is very useful. Skin keeps us warm. It is what makes us waterproof. It stops bad things getting inside of us. The parts of us that don’t have any skin are the weakest parts. All of the bad things outside can only get inside through the eyes or the nose or the mouth which is why you should never bite your nails or lick things that could be poisonous. Perhaps if we keep on evolving skin will grow over our mouth opening and we will be able to just absorb nutrients and all the restaurants will be full of people touching their burgers with their hands and growing strong with osmosis-consumed beef. We will see and smell with our fingers. 

Bad things can also get inside you through wounds. Once I fell over in the park and grazed my knee and then the graze turned yellow and started leaking pus. This was a sign that there were bad things inside my knee and that I would need to get them out using some kind of antiseptic cream. 

If you have no skin, you are not wounded. You are a wound. St Bartholomew died because he became a wound. 

Too much or too little skin makes people feel disgusted because it is not the amount of skin that most people have, but who decided that this is the right amount of skin anyway? Secretly, people would all like to have more skin. We have spent hundreds of years killing animals to wear their skin because we are not satisfied with the skin we already have. 

My grandmother has a cupboard full of dead animal skins which are very expensive. She taught me to tell if fur was real or not by blowing on it. If it’s real, it fans out in a circle. I used to hide in the furs until it became hard to ignore that they were dead. My grandmother has very thin skin now because she is very old. She gets cold quickly and has to use an electric blanket. She bruises easily. 

People like to paint pictures of St Bartholomew. Usually when they paint pictures of him he is still holding his skin, as though he is reluctant to let it go. If he wasn’t holding his skin, we probably would not be able to recognize St Bartholomew as St Bartholomew. He would just be a man who doesn’t have any skin. 

Many symptoms of skin diseases involve skin changing until it looks like something that is not skin. For example: the symptoms of impetigo include sores which burst and leave a yellow crust. Impetigo is a disease you get from touching someone else who has impetigo’s skin. I knew a girl once who caught impetigo from using her friend’s hairbrush and her scalp got covered with blister-sores and all her hair fell out. 

Her mother was really sad about this because people kept thinking that her daughter was a really unattractive boy. 

People with impetigo might pray for St Bartholomew to take away their affliction, not knowing that St Bartholomew deals better with issues of weight. Most of his miracles involve making things that are light heavy and things that are heavy light. When his skin-less body was found floating off the coast of Sicily, it was too heavy. Only the children could bring it ashore.

Making things that are light heavy and things that are heavy light might be kind of useful but it isn’t a particularly good super power. If you get to choose a super power, don’t choose St Bartholomew’s. 

Unless your skin feels too heavy.  


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one day i’ll fuck a sharpshooter like annie oakley and it’ll be hot and it’ll be easy and it’ll be timeless 

by CHARLOTTE FOREMAN

 

 

 

 

in situ philistine attitudes towards time
two mammals in the dark
organizing limbs phonetically

that the myth of agency (ecstasy) 
in the linear will find us
paratactic in our recombinations 

tho i am still wont to spell curb “kerb” 
tho the tomato actually dices you 

lacing up the semes for a walk
we risk swelling wood with water 

i will let you press your fingertip to the white
of my eye because no word nor deed
will explain itself 

that somebody could translate into you
via reprograph our bodily humors
against all moral qualms
 

o half-mick in Massachusetts
it will be so much more economical when you are here
a pierced and glinting left ear in floating grey space 

the Photoshop workspace harmonizes the raw data
into something refined and visible
we harangue at the Art Mart
making arguments for reflection and refraction 

that the boxed cake tastes the same as the homemade
and the crystal palace empties as quickly as the grey goose
things reside in the conditional and collect value 

blueprints left to us by our progeny
gesture towards this path and not that one
out the window to affiliate with color
the roof tiles angled to substrate the breath
of the indispensable trees 

flora and fauna will do you good
rising up from the bathwater and gathering in the mirror 

that i trade my chastity for your pneuma
& the voices of blind horses find collusion
beneath our drifting unanimous arms
that their voices kindle irreducible urns
& the mugwort carefully rolled and set alight
may or may not have driven the dreams
from their filthy corners 

you could literally die anywhere
and still we structure ourselves
in opposition to the ambiguous noise
inside the river’s chest 

one day i’ll fuck a sharpshooter like annie oakley
and it’ll be hot and it’ll be easy and it’ll be timeless 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

on manufacturing memory in an eternally modern present

by CHARLOTTE FOREMAN

 

 

promiscuous packet-sniffing at the wedding
on weekends in order to survive the marriage and the baby
those protocological movements
through ecstasy a teenager at a party finds a wall
and just breathes there 

the data wants to be free
dispersion of all Boolean searches regarding
trajectories through the corporate
pathological neglect of all former lovers and lover compounds
warmed in expanding and contracting parameters of memory 

search-and-replace all memories of seaquarium
the orca left in the tank through the hurricane
the dark chassis inside which chaos our bundle of totality
had no reach we all work straight jobs name our children
after unactionable words like david and caleb 

let’s work on streamlining the tower of babel
nosebleed all feelings of intervention
hack the wetware via sympathetic fluids
bring to fruition the fourth sophia we are in love with 

serialized objects feel their way through the dark room
the box office returns higher from the sequel
i channel my productive agency into recombination and re
presentation to a fully prepared public 

an episode of black mirror in which
people come to understand their impact on one another 

open source marco polo: 
a call and response of reducing relationships
in order to perceive of them 

my friend is my friend is my        there is a music made
to be played only inside the elevator


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CONTRIBUTORS 

 

 

IMAAN BARI
imaan’s only motivation is her intuition. she believes in the nuances and stands by that. find her sitting in front of her phone in solitude boon. she engages in nothing solicitous or crude. 

MAYA BUSHELL
Maya is a Senior Freshman and studies English Literature and History of Art and Architecture. She believes in bread and roses. 

DAVID BOYD
David Boyd is a Senior Fresh studying Single Honours History. Before coming to Trinity, David completed a foundation Art and Design course in Belfast School of Art where he gained experience in the disciplines of Graphic Design and Fine Art. His choice of medium focuses on the use of collage and photomontage in order to create connections between images and ideas. 

GABE DOYLE
gabe has shown me many things
and to gabe i’ve shown
his a language to show and to prove
goal: a limit, boundary 

CHARLOTTE FOREMAN
charlotte is us born and knows what sense there is in webs of cold water. 
she would not worry about still set squares unused no use. many baby dreams. 

UMANG KALRA
Umang Kalra is an Indian poet and a SF History student. Her work has appeared in Tn2 Magazine, Coldnoon, The Rising Phoenix Review, Porridge Magazine, VAYAVYA, and others. She has previously worked with Inklette Magazine, and is currently involved in a year long mentorship programme for women of colour in Ireland, under the bilingual poet Doireann Ní Ghríofa. 

BENJAMIN KEATINGE
Benjamin Keatinge is a graduate of the School of English, Trinity College Dublin. He has co-edited France and Ireland in the Public Imagination with Mary Pierse (Peter Lang, 2014) and Other Edens: The Life and Work of Brian Coffey with Aengus Woods (Irish Academic Press, 2010) and he has published widely on modern Irish poetry. His poetry has previously appeared in Icarus, College Green, and Kore Broadsheets and he recently won 3rd prize in the Red Line Book Festival Poetry Competition. 

JAY MULHALL
Jay Mulhall is a fourth-year English student. He defies you to read this poem biographically. 

PHELIM Ó LAOGHAIRE
Phelim is not a poet. For a long time he avoided calling himself a photographer but he accepts that that’s silly now... His photographic work has been called ‘poetic’. Phelim is conflicted.. Phelim doesn’t like the weight of which is probably why he is a photographer rather than a poet. 

MAEVE O’ROURKE
Maeve is a second-year English & Film student. She is from Chicago. 

RÓISÍN RYAN
Róisín Ryan is a second-year student of History and Political Science. She comes from rural Limerick, to where she loves to return at weekends. 

AISLINN SHANAHAN-DALY
Ais is is a second-year student in TCD. She hopes to major in sociology, and do some major thinking. If you have a good nickname idea for her, put it up on a bathroom stall somewhere. 

DÓNAL WALSH
Dónal Walsh was ungraciously pulled from the bogs of Fermanagh to the big smoke and would now have a few notions about him, not least this poetry malarkey. 

Hello, World!

 

FEATURED: AUGUSTUS YOUNG
Augustus Young was born in Cork, Ireland, in 1943, and now lives in a port town on the border between France and Spain. His most recent publications are Brazilian Tequila, a novella (Troubador, 2017), The Invalidity of all Guarantees: a conversation between Walter Benjamin and Bertolt Brecht (Labyrinth Books, December 2016), M.emoire: Poems and Prose (Duras/ Menard, 2014), Diversifications: Poems and Translations (Shearsman, 2009). He has published several volumes of autofiction, including Light Years (London Magazine Editions, 2002) and The Nicotine Cat and Other People: Chronicles of the Self (New Island/ Duras, 2009). Forthcoming publication: Heavy Years inside a health worker’s head (Quartet Books, 2018). Manuscript in progress Things That Happen While Reading Rilke. His regular webzine is www.augustusyoung.com. 

 

EDITORS

 

Editor: SOPHIE FITZPATRICK
sophie reruns moving toward the silverscreen better name better actual better bars a whole EIGHT. her economy is one of cranes. hers is a cyber cosy remainder. 

Editor: SEAN PIERSON
sean is a second year student like fire like work like house. it is just non stop go go go workshop inclusive gimmick preclusive. 

Archivist: SORCHA KELLY
sorcha says the antics are mine
question-begging behaviour
we need to make the best breakfast. 

Public Relations Officer: FLORENCE HEAP
florence is an english/philosophy student