11 September 2016


What does it mean to live fidelity to a particular body of work? How do we respond to an artist who has crucially left their mark on our own critical/creative practice(s)? How do we stake out and live this commitment—show this fidelity in situ, rather than awaiting a posthumous perspective to settle its significance for us, so that, finally, we can come to understand what it will have meant?

A number of poets are attempting to think through fidelity in a meaningful way, and we invite you to join us, in person or from afar. Here’s our proposal:

A collective of artists and intellectuals will commit the 2016-2017 academic year to study and respond to the corpus of a single poet. This poet will have committed themselves to the poetry community in the San Francisco Bay Area, specifically—a poet who, we believe, deserves a deeper, more scrupulous reading.

This year we have chosen to engage with the work of visual artist, translator, and poet Norma Cole. You can learn all about Norma’s extensive art practice at the website, where you’ll find links to out-of-print documents, visual art, and writing about Norma’s translation practice. 

We will study this body of work sometimes together, sometimes apart, sometimes in parallel. Some will simply read the work more deeply than usual; others might contribute to scholarship by interviewing the artist or making archival interventions; some might resurrect out-of-print material or attempt to make crucial material available to a larger reading public; others might organize smaller reading groups or public events. In short, the nature of our work will sometimes be intimate, sometimes public, and sometimes collaborative, depending on the contours of our lives (and the constellation of participants involved).

In order to thread our reading and writing together, we’ll use a single online interface to which all participants will have access: legacybayarea.com. Here, we’ll post stray thoughts, discoveries from readings, out-of-print material, archival material provided by the author, and we’ll discuss ways to deepen our collective engagement and to plan a celebration at the end of our run in August 2017. This online presence will enable all who wish to participate to do so, no matter where they are physically based.

If you’re interested in joining us, even if you simply want to read in tandem, on your own, please contact us. And feel free to spread the word about this project to all interested parties. 

10 March 2016

Eleni Stecopoulos's Visceral Poetics

Eleni Stecopoulos 

with a foreword by Alphonso Lingis

VISCERAL POETICS tracks “the chronic syndrome of the West” and the cruel treatments
of poetry’s resistance. At once a call for an embodied scholarship, a poetic work of criticism,
and a fragmentary autoethnography of the author’s health crisis at the millennium, Eleni
Stecopoulos’ book moves in a complex field of languages and bodies, between symptom and
art, diagnosis and composition, fascia and form. Stecopoulos aligns her method with diviners
of entrails and holistic healers, tracing the resonance between locations that range from
demonic possession and parasitic vowels to acupuncture and diaspora Greek. Opening new
directions in poetry and poetics as well as literature and medicine, Stecopoulos argues for
the body’s poetic agency and a different understanding of the therapeutic potency of art.
(Visit ON's website to read more!)


Eleni Stecopoulos is singularly aware of a healing power in poetry that touches the most
obscure depths of our carnal existence. She seeks to uncover “how the body in its opaque
poetry can be homeopathically treated by poetry—as aesthetic, not anaesthetic, therapy.”
Eleni Stecopoulos’ researches open an important field for investigation and practice: the
healing force of language, of poetry. 

-         Alphonso Lingis, from the Foreword

Searching in real time, thinking/feeling as writing, this tour de force of authentic scholarship
reaches far back to the matrix of writing/embodiment at the crux of human consciousness, far
forward into a modernism (Artaud, Metcalf) that explores the edges of such embodied writing,
and in all directions as Stecopoulos’ every insight emerges from and remains immersed in a
surround of the immediately personal. This is a lyrical study of great depth, an epic poem of
experiential erudition. 

-         Maria Damon

Eleni Stecopoulos’ brilliantly provocative, syncretic manifesto identifies idiopathic disease
with ideolectical poetics, pathology with anomaly – the flesh of the text and the text of the
flesh – bringing home the liberatory potential for visceral readings of the unintelligible. For
Stecopoulos, diagnosis is a practice of aesthetic translation and poetry a quest for knowledge
outside the disabling strictures of Western rationalism. Written in lyric bursts of telegraphic
intensity, Stecopoulos follows her guides, Artaud and Metcalf, through veils of suffering in
order to repossess, from the jaws of evisceration, her own life – and ours.  

-         Charles Bernstein

In a thick rich book of Artaudian trickster moves, Eleni Stecopoulos performs healing rituals
upon medical practices and cultural prescriptions, writing toward her own healing process,
with opacity as sustaining wayfarer and shield against early collapse. Disease emerges as
narrative symptom for disconnect, and language becomes subtle homeopathy, weaves a new
myth, for suffering writers and suffering war-torn worlds, in a visceral poetics based on Artaud’s
asylum writings: “a rhythm of exorcism against the drying out of opium by conspiracies and
consecrations” (Artaud, SELECTED WRITINGS). 

-         Petra Kuppers

Experience what “radiates from a text,” “the gravity at the core of theater” in this long awaited
critical work from Eleni Stecopoulos, the genesis of her Poetics of Healing—a curated series of
stages in which these ideas are enacted and the isolated patient finds place in a complicated
communal as both are changed. Placing the psychic reading of the body that refuses with will
next to the reading of poetries claimed unreadable, she makes a document of vital forms for a
new kind of scholarship, for a new and ancient kind of person or poet one and the same in the
hopes that they won’t be re-swallowed by the dominant but will find their own breath. A breath
that will resist and resist singularity and in the failures or blocks, the resetting, find the
choral-tragic—through a different kind of reading/witnessing. The violences of a larger social
body made visible though a syncope pressing right up against poetry. In this epic lyric, everything
and nothing at once. In “a form that holds, rather than explains”—the mystery of how this beautiful
important project came to be. 

-         Melissa Buzzeo 

The central question of VISCERAL POETICS is how to be. How to be a body. How to be a body in
pain, a body not in pain. How to be a thinker, a scholar, a writer about literary works. How to be
a poem too. It is unusual for a piece of literary criticism to take on such weighty questions. And
Eleni Stecopoulos gives us no easy answers as she consults various forms of literatures and healing,
questioning all of them and her relationship to them too. And as she does this she writes a book
that is beautiful and moving, a life’s work dedicated to the work of living.

 -         Juliana Spahr


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