1 After Lorca, p. 22.
2 Susan Howe, Singularities (Hanover & London: Wesleyan University Press, 1990), p.48.
3 Jack Spicer, “Vancouver Lecture 2: The Serial Poem and The Holy Grail.” In The House That Jack Built, p. 64.
4 It is probably also true that their interest contributed to a broader readership of Spicer among the contemporary poetry audience, and that this in turn led to the recent spate of posthumous publications by or about him. The Gizzi book cited in this essay is a case in point, as is the Kevin Killian/Lewis Ellingham biography Poet Be Like God and the unfinished Spicer detective novel, all of which were published in the last ten years or so. While one might not always agree with any of the so-called Language Poets’ takes on Spicer, that surge of collective energy around a poet who by now could have easily been one of the “forgotten” is something which anyone who values Spicer’s project has to be grateful for.
5 Though of course I wouldn’t claim that we’re the first— the recent symposium on Spicer in Jacket magazine being only one important example. I also have presented an earlier talk on Spicer, which can be viewed here. Nor are Kent and I even the first to consider Spicer in light of Benjamin! While in the course of preparing this essay, I discovered that the poet and translator Murat Nemet-Nejat had, a few years earlier, presented a paper on that very subject, titled “Translation: Contemplating Against the Grain.” Murat was kind enough to e-mail us his paper. While I can’t say it was formative of either of our takes on Spicer or Benjamin, it remains a consideration of both which I respect immensely. While Murat clearly would side with the more “metaphysical” reading of Spicer, I find this passage an interesting step toward reconciling Kent’s Benjaminian reading of the poet with my own: “A deep ambivalence underlies Benjamin’s analysis of translation. While its impulse is idealist, Platonic, contemplative, it is pregnant with disintegration, as if unity (the mind) and explosive fragmentation pun in this transparent arcade.” Though I tend to associate the “idealist, Platonic” impulse with Benjamin, and to see Spicer’s work, if not at times also Benjamin’s, as “pregnant with disintegration,” I value insights such as these in Murat’s concise, intriguing essay.
6 After Lorca, p. 51.