Poetry News

The Paris Review Reads Susan Howe's Notes on 'Private Literature '

By Harriet Staff
Susan Howe, Spontaneous_Particulars, cover

John Vincler considers works by Susan Howe, including Spontaneous Particulars: The Telepathy of Archives, underlining the poet's engagement with archives. "It is as if Howe has sought to take the experience of working in a rare-book room or a research library," Vincler writes, "and enfold that experience into the space of her slim book." From there: 

Libraries and museums collect the objects of the past so that they can be brought forward into our present, so that they can be called forth as witness to some future. Perhaps also so that the past can be made more legible. Howe begins Spontaneous Particulars with an image of a single page from William Carlos Williams’s book-length essay -poem Paterson (which remained unfinished at his death). We look upon and read this lone typescript page, heavily marked up with its deletions and emendations made in pencil. No transcription is given. It reads, in part, “To drown the roar, stopped at the library / for peace … for a clue to the resolution of the turmoil.” Further down the single stanza, it continues, “A meaning, a meaning? What do they know / and feel we do not know?” 

Read more at Paris Review.

Originally Published: January 15th, 2018