Poetry News

Patrick Durgin Sees Hannah Weiner's Clairvoyance at Jacket 2

By Harriet Staff


At Jacket 2 Patrick Durgin, editor of Hannah Weiner's Open House and The Early and Clairvoyant Journals of Hannah Weiner, contributes his well-thorough essay on Weiner's "clair-style" period, as well as her relationship to conceptual and New York School workers at that time.

[...] I think of the way the everyday was legitimated in those few years when conceptual art was still hinged to New York School poetics, a brief but telling moment if it is the immediate and logical predecessor to what Hannah Weiner called her “clair-style” period. Weiner’s clairvoyance meant, as per Spingarn, “seeing in the poet’s ‘madness’ not something for the physician to diagnose,” but a “creative flowering of their own personalities.” Weiner, we know, was interested in the “other person,” maybe even the person-in-general system. And as conceptual art is born with the readymade and cut through the everyday mystique of “the poet” to disinter an “art condition,” Weiner’s wry blend of tropes native to conceptual art in her late 1960s work, even before she claims “I SEE WORDS,” will presume a visual prosody that is both “non-retinal” and that short circuits any close reading.

Clairvoyant writing was the term Weiner gave to the work leading up to her 1978 book and studio recording of Clairvoyant Journal. Weiner was writing journals, diaries of a sort, throughout the early 70s, and when she began to see auras and words in 1972, she invented a literary form, “clair-style” writing, to depict her experiences (see BIG SENSIBLE for more on this topic). These experiences and even her response might be dismissed as lunacy or enjoyed as fantasy, but her readers are often fascinated by her eventual command, aesthetically, over her materials. We are just beginning to see the extent to which her pre-clairvoyant work as an artist, curator, and writer might cause us to reconsider demarcating clair-style writing from her conceptual and performance work. [...]

Dig it! Read on at Jacket 2!

Originally Published: August 5th, 2014