Found Language 007

Found Language #007

This is an entry in my notebook.

Paul Lisicky’s syllabus is an adventure in form, and examines the works of both fictionists and poets:

“I had the feeling that I could learn from poets—how they saw, how they heard. It struck me as the art form closest to music, my first love, and I loved the fact that poetry always felt like it was steaming ahead of me, and my job was to catch up.”

This simply stunning piece by Avra Margariti in The Offing is worth a read:

Maladies were thought to stem from a wandering womb.

The ever so lovely Ruth Reichl muses about the recipe for a great party:

“If you want to have a stellar evening it helps to start with an empty dishwasher.”

Sharyn Phu reviews Arise out of the Lock: 50 Bangladeshi Women Poets in English by Nabina Das (translator) and Alam Khorshed (curator):

“There is the drunken passion of summer romance. There is humour that winds around the cognitive dissonance of growing up—of turning from carefree child into guarded commodity. There is love and destruction, next to political, social, and economic upheaval. There is deep disappointment in an inability to participate in politics due to gender. There is grief, trauma, and death. There is desire. There is melancholy and the weight of living in a patriarchal world that was not created with female freedom in mind. And much more.”

Staci Greason examines how we deal with loss and love:

“Why do we feel the urge to laugh at a funeral? It makes the grief we’re holding more bearable…So, we slipped out a side door into the parking lot and laughed until we couldn’t stop crying. Isn’t that the way with sorrow? You just gotta find the absurd humor in the macabre and hold on because life is really hard.

“I wanted each woman to explore the whyShame, embarrassment, low self-esteem, need for validation, loneliness, addiction, bad childhoods—all of these unhealed reasons that women can’t see when someone isn’t good for them and then why they stay…So much internalized shit that we don’t even challenge, that we take as our reality: what we’re supposed to look like, who we’re supposed to love, how many things we’re supposed to have accomplished at a certain age. Screw that.

One of the things I love most about poetry is when the form that holds the poem suddenly makes sense: the white space, the line breaks, the alignment. Everything working together to create something amazing. Sarah Fawn Montgomery discusses the thought process behind mirroring content and form:

“Perhaps the most universal aspect of contemporary life is the feeling of being isolated, so it was important that the form mirror this. As a result, the essay is comprised of seemingly disparate sections—some personal, some collective—surrounded by blank space, that thread together through a repeating image, line, or emotion, and build meaning through the process of accumulation. I wrote this during the early days of the pandemic, so the form replicates the disjointed way the world received news during this time, as well as my own fragmented thought process. For me, essays work best when form and structure mirror the experience the writer is trying to convey, so I wanted this essay to have the same sense of collective chaos, of overwhelming grief as each section layers on top of the next to reveal emotional and environmental collapse. I’m especially interested in mosaics and weaving as a means of contemporary storytelling because they capture the collective voice so well.”

Written years ago but still relevant today—The uterus does not weep by Sanjukta Sharma:

“We are a culture conditioned to keep the uterus clandestine—out of the bounds of conversation as long as there is no baby inside it…we have made a bleeding girl taboo, dirty or shameful, depending on where we are.”

April Reese examining what’s beyond the five stages of grief:

“This fog of grief, it turns out, is as common as grief itself. When the neurologist Lisa Shulman lost her husband to cancer nine years ago, ‘there was some serious sadness, but that wasn’t the main problem,’ she recalls. ‘It was the disorientation. I felt like I was waking up in a completely alien world. Because the whole infrastructure of my daily life was fundamentally gone.’”

Is someone salty or is this somehow a form of love letter to Emily Dickinson’s genius? Published in the January 1913 issue of The Atlantic:

“Almost all of her poems are written in short measures, in which the effect of curt brevity is increased by her verbal penuriousness. Compression and epigrammatical ambush are her aids; she proceeds, without preparation or apology, by sudden, sharp zigzags. What intelligence a reader has must be exercised in the poetic game of hare-and-hounds, where ellipses, inversions, and unexpected climaxes mislead those who pursue sweet reasonableness.”

Finally, an excerpt from “poem to my uterus” by Lucille Clifton:

“where i am going
where am i going
old girl
without you”
—  from Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton, published by BOA Editions, 1991.


Found Language is where I gather writing, turns of phrases, and other statements that I find interesting, exquisite, or thought-provoking.


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Paul Lisicky


Comments (2)

  • Briana

    There is so much here.

    Thank you, T., for digging deep and presenting gems you uncover. The words I find here validate, uplift and comfort me.

    Lately I feel rather like the clapper in a bell. I am learning to move back and forth into the change, but I don’t like it.

    I don’t like it.

    I want to resist.

    I flow. I am.
    I flow. I am.

    I flow. I am.
    I flow. I am.

    From Rilke’s Sonnets to Orpheus II, 29:

    Quiet friend who has come so far,

    feel how your breathing makes more space around you.
    Let this darkness be a bell tower
    and you the bell. As you ring,

    what batters you becomes your strength.
    Move back and forth into the change.
    If the drink is bitter, turn yourself to wine.

    In this uncontainable night,
    be the mystery at the crossroads of your senses,
    the meaning discovered there.

    And if the world has ceased to hear you,
    say to the silent earth: I flow.
    To the rushing water, speak: I am.


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