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Not Writing

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When I am not writing I am not writing a novel called 1994  about a young
woman  in  an  office park  in a  provincial town who has a job  cutting  and
pasting time. I am not writing a novel called Nero about the world's richest
art star in space.  I am not writing  a book  called Kansas City Spleen.  I am
not writing a sequel to Kansas City Spleen called Bitch's Maldoror. I am not
writing  a  book of  political  philosophy called Questions for Poets. I am not
writing a scandalous memoir.  I am not writing a pathetic memoir. I am not
writing  a  memoir  about  poetry  or  love.  I am not writing a memoir about
poverty,  debt  collection,  or  bankruptcy.  I   am  not  writing   about family
court.  I am not writing a memoir because memoirs are for property owners
and not  writing a memoir about  prohibitions of memoirs.

When  I am not writing a memoir  I am also not writing any kind of  poetry,
not  prose  poems  contemporary   or  otherwise,  not  poems made  of frag-
ments,  not tightened and  compressed poems, not loosened and  conversa-
tional poems, not conceptual  poems, not virtuosic poems employing many
different  types of  euphonious devices, not poems with epiphanies and not
poems  without,  not  documentary  poems about recent political moments,
not  poems  heavy with allusions to critical theory and popular song.

I am not writing "Leaving the Atocha Station" by Anne Boyer and certain-
ly  not  writing  "Nadja"  by  Anne Boyer though would like to write "Debt"
by  Anne Boyer  though  am  not  writing  also  "The  German Ideology" by
Anne  Boyer  and not writing a screenplay called "Sparticists."

I am not writing an account of myself more miserable than Rousseau.
I am not writing an account of myself more innocent than Blake.

I am not writing epic poetry although I like what Milton said about lyric
poets drinking wine while epic poets should drink water from a  wooden
bowl. I would like to drink wine from a wooden  bowl  or to drink  water
from an emptied bottle of wine.

I am not writing a book about shopping, which is a woman shopping.
I am not  writing  accounts  of  dreams,  not  my own or anyone else's.
I am not writing historical re-enactments of any durational literature.

I am not writing anything that anyone  has requested of me or is  waiting
on,  not  a  poetics  essay  or any other sort of essay, not a  roundtable re-
sponse, not interview responses, not writing prompts for younger writers,
not my thoughts about critical theory or popular songs.

I am not writing a new constitution for the republic of no history.
I am not writing a will or a medical report.

I am  not  writing  Facebook status updates. I am not writing thank-you
notes or apologies. I am not writing conference papers. I am not writing
book reviews. I am not writing blurbs.

I  am not writing  about contemporary  art. I am  not writing  accounts of
my travels.  I am  not writing  reviews for  The New Inquiry and not writ-
ing pieces for Triple Canopy and not writing anything for Fence. I am not
writing a  daily  accounting  of my reading, activities, and ideas.   I am not
writing  science  fiction  novels  about  the  problem  of  the idea of the au-
tonomy  of  art  and  science  fiction  novels about the problem of a society
with  only  one  law  which  is  consent.  I am  not  writing stories based on

Nathaniel Hawthorne's unwritten story ideas. I am not writing online dat-
ing profiles.  I am not writing anonymous communiqués.  I am not writing
textbooks.

I am not writing a history of these times or of past times or of any future
times and not even the history of these visions which are with me all day
and all of the night.




Anne Boyer, "Not Writing" from Garments Against Women. Copyright © 2015 by Anne Boyer.  Reprinted by permission of Ahsahta Press.
Source: Garments Against Women (Ahsahta Press, 2015)
Not Writing

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  • Anne Boyer is a Kansas City-based poet and essayist, and a professor at the Kansas City Art Institute. Her works include The Romance of Happy Workers (Coffee House Press, 2006), My Common Heart (Spooky Girlfriend Press, 2011), and the 2016 CLMP Firecracker award-winning Garments Against Women (US: Ahsahta Press, 2015; UK: Mute Books, 2016), which Maureen McLane described in the New York Times as “a sad, beautiful, passionate book that registers the political economy of literature and of life itself.”
    Boyer’s poetry has been translated into a number of languages, including Icelandic, Spanish, Persian, and Swedish, and her chapbook A Form of Sabotage (2013) was published by the collective Kült Neşriyat in Turkish translation. Boyer’s other chapbooks include Anne Boyer’s Good Apocalypse, Art is War, and The 2000s. With Guillermo Parra and Cassandra Gillig, she has translated the work of 20th century Venezuelan poets Victor Valera Mora, Miguel James, and Miyo Vestrini.
    In...

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