05 August 2010
Game Recognize Game
I'm super excited to announce that Haecceities is off to the printers and should be available by the end of the summer! Perhaps the following essay/blurb by Taylor Brady (sadly chopped and screwed for the backcover due to space constraints) will pique your curiosity? Here's Taylor:
In Haecceities, Michael Cross extends his engagement with a metrics of the word into a prosody of the lexicon. Shaped by the torsions of a space where the word is both unit of measure and the quiddity on which measure bears, these poems push Zukofsky's word-count line toward an encounter with Duncan's sense of prosody as “open possibilities of design.” There is a difficult joy in rhythms that strain and spring (Hopkins-like?) to work that openness in fields of what we might have thought otherwise enclosures and foreclosures. A preference in diction for the archaic (“aroint,” “halidom,” “volant”) or the contemporary-obsolete (“pleather,” “kodachrome”) is not mannerism, but a call to encounter words before the boundaries they stake have been fully settled, or after they've been overgrown. Words, arising weed-like in the abeyance of their legislated meanings, occur as sound, or as song. Here I recall as well that the lexeme of these poems' measure lives in imagination as both word-unit and law-unit, and that to drive a wedge—to disenclose the space—between these two powers, to discover the field of words' public illegality, is a central task for poetry.
Prompted by the force of this outlaw song, a reader may then dig, unearthing ruins or uncovering shoots of what such “rich and strange” vocabularies have or shall have brought to light as meaning. This philologist's and lexicographer's delving, and the articulations and rhythms of the source texts it activates, must be taken as an outside located within the articulation of the poem itself: rhythmic duration as extimacy. What emerges for me in this digging—research as song, singing as search—is how densely the domain (or demesne, to give the poems' lexicon its due) of these words is packed with sites of emergence, the words themselves naming points at which the abstraction of meaning from song, law from custom, value from use, army from body, state from commune, first proposes itself as possibility.
Archaism and anachronism thus become transit-points by which I read myself back to a place of decision where such processes—not yet having hardened into the world we falsely know as the one, given, and historically inevitable World—are taking place, but have not yet taken place or do not yet (and no longer?) have a place to take. Vocabularies of heraldry mark the passage, through the vanishing medium of the emblem, of practical magics of interchange with land, animal, kinship and dwelling, into the symbolic obduracy of nation, property, inheritance and fortification. Outmoded and specialist jargons of domestic, sacred, and martial architecture mark the nascence of a split between the craft worker's “respect for materials” and the built allegory of divine command. Crucially, this nascence, throughout the poems, is also a nescience: we do not yet know how this will turn out or, having taken sufficient distance from the point of decision, we are faced again with the necessity to decide now.
We remain to this side of the archaic, the medieval, the obsolete: words in Haecceities are haecceities, and site us still in the opening of a chronicle we had misrecognized as closed. The possibility I find enacted as song in this opening is that the not-yet of historical closure might be the waste margin in which to glean a new life in common with words.