Poetry News

Evening Has Arrived in Affect Issue of Evening Will Come

By Harriet Staff

john-donne

The "Affect and Poetry" issue of Evening Will Come, edited by Julie Carr and Aaron Angello, is here and well worth your reading-time. This one features essays by an incredible lot: Fred Moten, Lucy Ives, Divya Victor, Steven Goldsmith, Mia You, Katherine Eggert, Gerald Bruns, Rob Fitterman, Jessica Fisher, Kyoo Lee, Lauren Berlant/Claudia Rankine, Erin Moure, Lisa Robertson, Keston Sutherland, and Duriel Estelle Harris. Oh, petit chien, s'nice optics, non? We're mad about this one from Eggert: "Relatively Happy: Inventing a New Emotion / from John Donne’s 'The Good Morrow' to 'The Sun Rising.'"

The speaker in “The Good Morrow” knows only two emotions. In the past, desire (“If ever any beauty I did see, / Which I desired, and got, ’twas but a dream of thee” [5-6]). And in the present, love. Appearing twice as a verb attached to “thou and I” and three times as a noun, “love” anchors the poem’s exclusion of all “new worlds” in favor of the lovers’ solitude: “For love … / makes one little room, an everywhere” (12, 10-11). The result, for “The Good Morrow,” is a physical stasis and lack of differentiation that amounts to emotional homogeneity: “Where can we finde two better hemispheres / Without sharp north, without declining west?” (17-18). Love may even extend physical and emotional stasis into eternity: “Whatever dies, was not mixed equally; / If our two loves be one, or, thou and I / Love so alike, that none do slacken, none can die” (19-21).3 This portrait of eternal, unchanging, hermetically sealed love is part of the appeal of “The Good Morrow,” but it also potentially prompts both claustrophobia and an inquiry into how authentic the speaker is being when he asserts the lovers are equal. Not only does the speaker define their shared love for the two of them, he also declares that “love, all love of other sights controls” (10), effectively narrowing the beloved’s vision to a view of the domestic interior in the same way that the poem narrows both partners’ future to an eternity of immutable blendedness. What the beloved’s will for that future is, we never learn. Nor is a space created where the beloved’s will might conceivably emerge.

And an excerpt from Moten's "Poetry and Blackness":

Poetry blurs, but where’s that coming from? How is endless play confirmed after, and against the grain of the very idea of, the work? We’re supposed to derive from the work, in its completeness, some sense of its rule. But what about the openness of the work, its internal sociality as well as the social relations of its own production, which not only escape but also succeed the works seizure, not to mention that rubbing of the work that rubs the very idea of the work out and into the everyday crowding of our everyday hold and, therefore, allows and requires the anti-interpretive erotics that Susan Sontag called for, in “Against Interpretation,” but which her commitment to the work, to its accompanying metaphysics of discretion, kept her from imagining? This set of ethical questions turns out to be ecological as well—what sustains us in, what sustains itself as, poetry; what poetry calls upon us to sustain in and of itself; is impure production’s anaproductive, degenerative and regenerative, madness. And it’s still going crazy! The prophetic and projective announcement of the work’s opening was also a description of a general socioecological poiesis—in imaginative compact with love as well as lunacy—brought more fully into relief in and by socioecological disaster. This openness, this dissonance, this residual informality, this refusal to coalesce, this differential resistance to enclosure, this sounded animateriality, this breaking vessel and broken flesh is poetry, one of whose other names, but not just one name among others, is blackness.

Read all the more at Evening Will Come.