Poetry News

Carolee Schneeman's Memories of Hannah Weiner

By Harriet Staff

In the midst of an oral history project in 2016, Patrick Durgin phoned Carolee Schneeman to talk about the artist's remembrances of Hannah Weiner. This week, following Schneeman's sad passing, Jacket2 has published a transcript of some of her remarks. "I gathered from the conversation that she felt a strong kinship with Weiner," writes Durgin. "Those who have studied Weiner’s career know that its continuities are sometimes overlooked and that she dearly sought to be understood, as much as her work was in some sense a process of understanding. I think Carolee understood it."

From the transcript:

We were very peripheral but I helped her with the (Code Poems). I rehearsed them with her, but it was not programmatic, it was not meticulous. … She was marginalized … a lot of people thought she was too crazy to be given proportionate regard to what they were fighting for or thinking about … She was shy about it, insecure, we all were. She didn’t have the sort of persona that could cut through the male role of value. … Bernadette [Mayer] was also a special case, except that she was highly respected as being brilliant whereas Hannah’s work was still outside somewhere in a realm that hadn’t been absorbed at all until she was able to really enter it and sustain it. …(The embrace by Language writers changed all of that. But she didn’t come up through the university system. And the filmmakers, for example, had) meetings that defined their exclusivity. … These spiritual [voices and advisors we both had circa 1974] were highly suspect. They were against the methodical predictors, the conceptual aesthetic that was happening at the same time. So there was a certain shame or hiddenness. I couldn’t talk about this for a very long time because it would trivialize my work and make it fluffy, “fluffy girl.” … Meat Joy became hugely influential to the poets, and it was all based on dream gestures and dream energies. … [Her involvement with the American Indian Movement] was mixed, it was difficult. But they loved her. Her involvement was absolutely real...

Read on at Jacket2. Image: Carolee Schneeman. Eye Body Portfolio. 1963/2005.

Originally Published: March 14th, 2019