Q&A with Susana Gardner

Susana Gardner will be teaching Found Poetics, or Appropriation as Textual Intimacy, an exploration of writing through varied utilization and use of found texts and practice; flarf poetics, erasure, lifting, omitting, centos and cut-ups. During the class, students will explore new methods of reading and writing poetry in a muse state thus culled. The class will be encouraged to upcycle vintage books, found texts and other ephemera to create new poems alongside weekly prompts that will explore new forms. Students are encouraged to purchase a used book from Ada Books with which they will creatively omit, erase or cut-up in poetic exercise and craft. The instructor will supply additional texts, in the form of emailed PDFs and paper copies. For examples of course material, check out Michelle Detorie’s Sin in Wilderness or A Humament by Tom Philips. Course runs July 16-August 20, 2015 on Thursdays, 6:30-9:00 pm. Register here.


Ben Williams: How did you decide to teach a class on found texts? What do you hope to accomplish through the course?

Susana Gardner: I love working among other works and ‘found’ poetics. This could be in the form of found text found virtually anywhere and thus be more of a flarfy gesture or through the art of disseminating found literature. This is an exercise that is reliant on process more than output necessarily and invites other mediums and processes than merely staring at a blank page. Dead authors and strange texts alike can aid our process in creation, get the wheels turning and produce strange and wonderfully unexpected creatures/poems.

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by Susana Gardner

BW: How does altering a text, specifically through erasure or censorship, change its meaning? How does the act of re-creation, even destruction, challenge the notion of authorship?

SG: There is so much to be found in existing texts— especially antiquated books hold much possibility in way of creating ‘new’ texts. The experience of working with found texts can be spiritual and meditative as well. One needs to trust and follow a certain level of intuitiveness when omitting the next word. Ultimately, new poems can be salvaged and lifted from the original texts with quite a different meaning. The process is as important as the outcome. The act of re-creation and salvaging alongside disruption and certain destruction of the original into a new work certainly challenges the idea that authorship exists in the singular ‘I’, as writers are constantly writing alongside our poetic influences as much as those forebearers are writing with us thus couching the idea of originality into the manifold and multiplicitous. Whether an original work is noted or not, we are all influenced and the circle thus continues. The art of altering an older poetic text is not new—yet can be bold and experimental in how we choose to altercate a text and this takes an amount of thought and is a gesture, sometimes ironic, sometimes a poetic tip of the hat of the greatest reverence or challenge even.

From EBB PORT by Susana Gardner
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BW: The physical presentation of your work–cutouts, pasting, bracketing, and imagery–seems very important to the experience of the text. How did you develop your style? What were your inspirations?

SG: For me, brackets are a way to measure time. The physical process of creation is definitely important to me. I always suggest that poets learn how to typeset as this gives the page the full possibility—there is so much more to the page than flush left! My ‘style’ continues to change to a certain extent with each project. I have many influences… I am interested in many schools of poetic thought and political art movements: DADA, Futurism, Modernism and the more recently Flarf and L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poetry (my time in DC was well-spent)… but I also adore and return often to the Romantics. K. Lorraine Graham really got my literary heritages in her generous reading of my second book Herso.

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Not By With America by Susana Gardner

BW: What are you working on now? Is there any specific found text that you would really like to work with sometime in the future?

SG: I do have a poetry MS in process—the working title is Somewhere Upon a Time (that gorgeous raw) but lately I have been devoting a lot of time to my publishing pursuits as the editor of Dusie. I have erased Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnets to the Portuguese several times, and often find this an interesting work and re-work with as a found poetical matter. I enjoy the process as much as the outcome and the variety the form naturally allows. Will I erase or ‘lift’ certain words similarly or will other words speak to me in the process of finding the new poem within? I enjoy the quiet meditation with Browning, and my reading and rereading of the sonnets adds to my understanding of her work as much as it illuminates meaning for my own. I have created many sound poems with DH Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers. The Victorian vocabulary is intense and thrilling to work with as it is difficult. I never know exactly where I am headed when I begin projects like this one. I never intended to write sound poetry… but the page called for it and perhaps Lawrence calls for it…culls for it. This is a way for me to keep dead writers alive as much as it is to produce new work, to keep the conversation going.

From HyperPhantasie Constructs (Dusie) by Susana Gardner

 

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Susana Gardner is the author of the full-length poetry collections HERSO (Black Radish Books, 2011) andsusana [ LAPSED INSEL WEARY ] (The Tangent Press, 2008). Her third book, CADDISH also from Black Radish Books. She has published several chapbooks, including Hyper-Phantasie Constructs (Dusie Kollektiv, 2010) and Herso (University of Theory and Memorabilia Press, 2009). Her poetry has appeared in many online and print publications including Jacket, How2, Puerto Del Sol, and Cambridge Literary Review among others. Her work has also been featured in several anthologies, including 131.839 slög með bilum (131,839 keystrokes with spaces) (Ntamo, Finland, 2007) and NOT FOR MOTHERS ONLY: CONTEMPORARY POEMS ON CHILD-GETTING AND CHILD-REARING (Fence Books, United States, 2007). She lives in Rhode Island, where she also teaches, freelances and edits the online poetics journal and experimental kollektiv press, Dusie.

Poetry Processing Politics

Cultural Front Logo 6

“In solidarity with the movements to address racial injustices related to police brutality, including the killing of Michael Brown, poets have been reading poems online under the hashtag #BlackPoetsSpeakOut.
[Related:  A few notes on #BlackPoetsSpeakOut]
The project came about from a brainstorming session between Amanda Johnston, Mahogany “Mo” Browne, Jonterri Gadson, Jericho Brown, Sherina Rodriguez, & Maya Washington on a Cave Canem Facebook group. Together, they developed a posting strategy.
The readings open with the statement ‘I am a black poet who will not remain silent while this nation murders black people. I have a right to be angry.'”
What follows is a link to some of the pieces:

http://www.culturalfront.org/2014/11/a-roundup-of-blackpoetsspeakout.html

Poetry Anthology Launch

Join a group of talented, empathetic RI poets as they celebrate the launch of their new poetry anthology: 

HOPE STREET: Nine New England Poets On Love and Loss

Reading and Reception with Open Mic
Sunday, September 21, at 3PM

Symposium Books, East Greenwich

Meet and Greet Frequency’s Fall Teachers

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Join us for a chance to meet Frequency’s talented writers: Kate Colby, Kate Schapira, V.H. Wildman, and Darcie Dennigan. These writers will give short readings and talk about their upcoming fall courses. This event runs from 3-5pm September 14th at 186 Carpenter Street. There will be refreshments and a chance to mingle. There is no charge and writers of all levels and interests are welcome!

Hybrid Writing Workshop

Only two weeks until Mary-Kim Arnold’s Hybrid Writing Workshop begins!

For a taste of her writing, take a look at her piece in the Rumpus, which you can read in full here.

“We went to Boston to be alone, to be away from the people we knew. Far enough so that we would not run into anyone we knew at the diner where we ate breakfast or at the bookstore where we spent the afternoon. It was early in our love. We were swept up in the heat of it.”

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Mary-Kim Arnold’s prose has appeared online at Tin House, Wigleaf, HMTL Giant, and The Rumpus. She was a finalist in the 2013 Pinch Journal Literary Awards and her poetry collection, Awake, Location was a finalist for the 2013 Kundiman Prize. She has poems at Two Serious Ladies and forthcoming from [burntdistrict]. She has taught creative writing at RISD, Wheaton College, and at Brown University, where she received her MFA. She lives in Pawtucket.
 

Summer Reading Recs– post #1

This week’s recs come from RI poet talvi anselTalvikki Ansel, who has published two books of poems: My Shining Archipelago (Yale Series of Younger Poets Award) and Jetty & Other Poems. Her poems are currently or forthcoming in The Cincinnati Review, The Kenyon Review, and in the anthology The Hide-and-Seek Muse: Annotations of Contemporary Poetry (Drunken Boat, 2013). She has received a Stegner Fellowship, Pushcart Prize, a Lannan Residency Fellowship, and a grant from the Money for Women / Barbara Deming Memorial Fund. She is an adjunct instructor at The University of Rhode Island.

And may we just also add what a lovely poet she is. Check out some of her work online at The Poetry Foundation.

Thanks, Talvi!!

woolfThe Diary of Virginia Woolf, Volume III: 1925-1930
This volume of her diary covers the years Woolf was working on To the Lighthouse, Orlando, and The Waves. It’s mesmerizing, and unmediated by a biographer though there are plenty of notes to explore; read it straight through, or dip into it: observations on life (moths, running a press, the labor strike), fellow writers (numerous, including a visit to Hardy), family dynamics, and of course the unfolding novels.

summer bookThe Summer Book, Tove Jansson
First published in 1972, reprinted as a New York Review Books Classics series. A grandmother and child on an island in the Gulf of Finland. We don’t hear much from the widowed father, and the mother is an absence. The grandmother and child are close, cantankerous, and curious. The island is unforgettable: stone ledges, moss, visitors by rowboat, an ancient salt-water soaked bathrobe, and drift-wood creatures in a forest. It’s a novel, the scenes strung together like memory or prose poems.

montaleEugenio Montale’s poems. I happen to have Collected Poems: 1920-1954 (trans. by Jonathan Galassi) and Montale in English (various translators, Harry Thomas, ed.) handy; there are others. The poems make summer and Montale’s coastline seem elemental and timeless. The poems allow for intrusions—the insect bursting into the oval of light above a reader, and regularity—the cicadas’ cries, heat, and geology. Striated and layered, with wisps of history and narrative, I can’t let go of these poems.

… check back early next week for recommendations from Mark Baumer, Mary-Kim Arnold, and other local writers whom the vast Frequency Office Staff admire.