Sunday, May 30, 2010

Leslie Scalapino

Poet Leslie Scalapino has passed away, a great loss to American poetry. I had a good fortune some thirty-plus years ago to do a reading with her at Intersection for the Arts in San Francisco at a reading organized by friend Steve Farmer, and I've been a fan of her writing ever since. Her particular genius was bringing language to the forefront and investigating how accounting for what one perceives isn't a cut and paste process as we would normally believe. Still, something actually more complex, elusive, wonderfully confounding. There is a sense in her work of experiencing many emotions simultaneously, and the notion of feeling the varied senses fire up in sequence. She presented her poems as variations on the small things heard, seen, felt: it seemed to me that it was the smallest matters for her that evoked the largest response. Coherence was more nuanced than what the mainstream culture would have us think. She was a poet of accumulating power. I am grateful to have read with her. I am grateful for the books she wrote and published.

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