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Begin Anywhere

By Sina Queyras

But where is anywhere, damn it? I have been thinking and making notes toward posts for Harriet for a few days now, but it’s never easy to begin a project. It took nearly a year for me to get past the first two posts on my own blog, though once I got the hang of it the habit was/is hard to break. So while carrying on isn’t a problem, beginning appears to be. Organizing is another. The ideas stack up, refuse chronology, refuse to be corralled and contained. Where does this thought lead, and why not there? Controlled chaos is how thinking feels for me. Partly this may be due to information and work overload—the beginning of a new semester, administrative duties piled high, projects open all around— also a few personal pains that refuse to be tucked in neatly.

But isn’t it also thinking? Or contemporary thinking? Like a search string, my powers of association are endlessly refreshed. This refreshing comes from many things—my brain yes, and reading yes, but also from a click of a key on a pad, and from friends who send me links to videos poems and essays. Yesterday Bruno Latour’s essay “Why has Critique Run Out of Steam? From Matters of Fact to matters of Concern” arrived on my desktop and got me thinking about the contemporary problem of instant revisionism and how that plays on the individual psyche: if everything is always opening and expanding and there is so little distance between witnessing and revising, what is firm? Where is solid? What is finished?

That isn’t quite what Latour has in mind in his essay (which I’ll need to pick up on later when, alas, I get around to talking about criticism), but it is partly what I have in mind, and so it gets folded in to the current query which is how to start this stint over at Harriet? How to order all these thoughts and questions and concerns I would like to touch on in the coming weeks?

I would like one of those posts to be on the question of distance between ingesting and reacting, one on resolutions, or affirmations, another on poets and grief, which leads to poets and thinking and writing, which leads to questions of audience, which makes me think about readability and prose stylings, which leads to the question of body and space in poetry, which leads to gender, which leads to nature poetry, and all of the above brings me to the work of Anne Carson and Erin Moure, which in a way comes back to ongoing questions I have concerning the art of reviewing… The latter conversation, if you’re interested, is taking place now on Lemon Hound, the blog I have maintained for the past five or so years. That site will be undergoing some changes in the coming weeks as new poets take up residence, but like Craig Santos Perez, I too seem to be a blogaholic. No doubt I will keep a finger in that world after my stint here on Harriet is done.

But first things first: which is perhaps to simply say Hello, I’m happy to be here. And so begin.

Comments (16)

  • On January 5, 2010 at 1:36 pm Daisy Fried wrote:

    So glad you’re blogging here, Sina.

    • On January 5, 2010 at 3:04 pm Thom Donovan wrote:

      “The ideas stack up, refuse chronology, refuse to be corralled and contained. Where does this thought lead, and why not there? Controlled chaos is how thinking feels for me at this point in time. Partly this may be due to information and work overload—the beginning of a new semester, administrative duties piled high, projects open all around— also a few personal pains that refuse to be tucked in neatly.”

      I feel you here Sina. Glad we’ll be able to rage for order together these next few months…

      –Thom

      PS: “begin anywhere” appears as an instruction thruout Zukofsky’s “A”. I love the anarchic connotation/implication…

      • On January 5, 2010 at 3:07 pm csperez wrote:

        excited to be raging with you both, sina & thom!

        c

  • On January 5, 2010 at 1:55 pm Sina Queyras wrote:

    Thanks Daisy. The water is warm.

  • On January 5, 2010 at 2:54 pm Anne Fernald wrote:

    An eloquent beginning. Brava! Delighted to see you here, Sina!

  • On January 5, 2010 at 6:39 pm Michael Dickman wrote:

    Sina Queyras,

    Looking forward to what you might have to say about ‘body and space’ in poetry. Makes me think of theater, of the drama of actual dancing. Can we get it into poems.
    Yours,
    Michael Dickman

    • On January 6, 2010 at 9:39 pm Sina Queyras wrote:

      Thanks Michael. I think we can, I hope we can, I know I aspire to in my own–aspire in any case, whether that works is another matter. And of course how it works and how one thinks about the body in relation to text will differ. More anon, and more Bhanu: I can’t wait to hear what you have to say about the fold, and the body. I recently read your piece in Feminaissance.

  • On January 5, 2010 at 7:41 pm Karenee wrote:

    Your post flowed past as I traced my fingers through your sentences, watching the rush and bubble where they interact with my experiences and feeling glad to have stumbled over this blog full of complex triggers for new thought and sudden realization of old knowledge.

    It was good to realize that, yes, I can begin anywhere. I was wondering where to start this year. So right now is the moment where time hooks its barb under my skin and spins me in a new direction, caught up in the flood again. I look forward to reading more of what you have to say.

  • On January 5, 2010 at 8:05 pm Edwin Torres wrote:

    Triggers, yes! Beautiful flow, and great point about beginnings—the expanding mind, how far to go and what it expands from. I question the permeable and the solid constantly, what Marjorie Welish calls the mess. Something that maintains a spontaneous exchange, an approachable portal, what is finished when we keep talking? Could there be a resonating air left hovering, once the reading of a poem is finished, let alone the writing? I look forward to the dips and valleys of your journey.

  • On January 5, 2010 at 11:30 pm Sina Queyras wrote:

    Anne, Craig, Thom, thanks for the welcome.
    I’ve enjoyed your posts, Edwin. And I was thinking about Welish recently, how spacious her work is, and how endless the encounter.
    Karanee, thanks for the lovely response. Yes, begin anywhere, and begin again, and again.

  • On January 6, 2010 at 1:22 pm evie wrote:

    yay, sina!! looking forward to dipping into these “warm waters” from time to time. : )

  • On January 6, 2010 at 9:11 pm Bhanu Kapil wrote:

    Bonjour. I am writing from a hollow in Vermont, and thought I would say hello from a sub-space. Hello! To respond to the Body/space comment…I am at Goddard College, where Shelley Jackson just read an amazing short story called Flat Daddy, in which, at the end, “Daddy” is rolled up and accidentally spits, to quote Daddy, I mean Shelley, “on his own backside.” Thus, I’d like to begin with some phatic communion — “hi!” — and the start of a thought on “the fold.” The capacity of a piece of writing to “touch itself everywhere at once,” as Samuel Delaney said at Naropa a couple of summers ago. That doesn’t sound quite right out of context; I think he meant it chemically — as a material rather than a carnal act. Then again, maybe not. I refer you to the Poetics Archive of the Allen Ginsberg Library, which has a swing outside, where you can eat your salty chips and drink your hot sweeet tea.

  • On January 7, 2010 at 4:05 am K. Connolly wrote:

    Jesus Sina,

    Didn’t realize until I read the comments above that you were FREAKING CHANGING STATE! Some are voting liquid, it seems. I prefer solid, but then that’s the coward’s way out.

    Love it that you’re writing here, and will follow your thoughts with great interest and appropriate attention as always.

    More rock less talk!

    xo

    Connolly

  • On January 9, 2010 at 5:22 am Gregory Hughes wrote:

    contextual; there were semiotics all over what was your observation

    Gregory Hughes,
    covington, ky

    • On January 10, 2010 at 3:19 pm Sina Queyras wrote:

      I like cats.

  • On January 10, 2010 at 4:38 pm Gary B. Fitzgerald wrote:

    I like cats, too. I’ve got eight of the little buggers!

    If only people were more like they are…then things probably wouldn’t be so absurd.


Posted in Uncategorized on Tuesday, January 5th, 2010 by Sina Queyras.