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Peter Seaton on HTMLGIANT

By Harriet Staff

“Because we may be it we remain. We feel we are aware we tend to think as if to keep it from rising too rapidly we see them, their rising movement through it, their ascent as it reaches this point we could move, we would have a surface as flat as the exposed beams and rafters of the roof. We are also the space we find we seek relief from.”

Writes Peter Seaton in AGREEMENT. “He creates a specific context,” he also writes, seemingly speaking of himself. Nathaniel Otting, today at HTMLGIANT, has a beautiful post up about Seaton, the much-overlooked poet who died on this day last year in New York City. Seaton kept to himself, to say the least, but he’s considered affinitive, to say the least! with the Language School (Bruce Andrews once told us that Seaton was “the only guy I’ve ever been jealous of”).

Otting is outing (forgive our assonance, it’s can’t be helped here!) Seaton as a big influence on today’s younger poets—and encouraging, as is his way, that everybody take a gander at either the 1978 Asylum’s Press book AGREEMENT, as mentioned above, or his second book, The Son Master, which stunningly begins in medias res with the line “and the working physical still some.” Both books are actually available (and cheap?!) to purchase or view online, as is the 1983 CRISIS INTERVENTION.

Otting also maintains a dialogic space, calling out connectors, friends, colleagues, editors, and Otting’s own go-tos for understanding how to read Seaton (the Clark Coolidge of WEATHERS and QUARTZ HEARTS). Still:

One is tempted to call this post I THINK I UNDERSTAND PETER SEATON after Bernstein’s I THINK I UNDERSTAND ALAN DAVIES after Davies’ I THINK I UNDERSTAND JOSEPH BEUYS, which first appeared in the same THIS (8), where Seaton also first* appeared. (Davies, another precursor for sure, also published Seaton, in his seminal A HUNDRED POSTERS.) But DO I understand Peter Seaton? What would that even mean?

In the meantime, Otting surreptitiously, propelling, assigns some great reading, including “George Oppen in Exile: Mexico and Maritain,” by Peter Nicholls; or a small reflection by Diane Ward on Seaton’s Piranesi Pointed Up (Roof VIII, 1978); as well as links to Stephen Rodefer essays, Creeley recordings, and acourse to Eclipse, which has so much of this online, including an index to Grenier and Watten’s THIS magazine (1971-1982) (referred to throughout the piece). It’s a giant giddiness, the way Otting writes, and an homage to Seaton, who worked primarily with prose: “For Seaton is a poet of the sentence.”

Whether the new sentence or the sentence is a lonely place. As far as I can see, Silliman doesn’t mention Seaton in The New Sentence, and I can’t say for sure that Lish would like him, but I think Lutz would. In Seaton, not only “Words are words” but “without words obscure story” but also: “hot spot.” Seaton’s sentences: see Stein, steeled surrealism, Stan Brakhage (an avowed influence). See later Stephen Rodefer, especially FOUR LECTURES. . . .and the “Preface” to EMERGENCY MEASURES, subtitled “In the American Tree and Out the Other,” which might be a caption for Seaton’s slow fade from the Language & New York poetry scenes.

Very much worth a read.

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Posted in Poetry News on Wednesday, May 18th, 2011 by Harriet Staff.