||PROCEDURAL ELEGIES/WESTERN CIV CONT'D/
by Joan Retallack
"At the beginning of her astounding new book, Joan Retallack posts a warning from Immanuel Kant 'against arguing directly from the logical possibility of concepts to the real possibility of things.' It seems to me that Retallack has succeeded brilliantly by flouting Kant’s injunction. 'The real possibility of things' shimmers and sings on every page of Procedural Elegies, creating a living entity through means that remain as mysterious as they are vital."
- John Ashbery
"'Writing on' texts by authors as varied as Gertrude Stein, Niels Bohr, and Mother Goose, Retallack’s procedural works disrupt the world of statements with worlds of inquiry. Each poem is an ecologically modeled operation powered by a quasi-
systematic principle that is open and ever-changing. In such a landscape there is no closure; these poems are sites for response, investigation, contemplation and delight."
- Jena Osman
"The world in which we live is riven with procedure. Especially in our address to
literature, we disavow this aspect of civilization to our cost. Joan Retallack’s work is vital for the poethics she brings to procedure, allowing us to elegize important changes in our life worlds with intelligence and humour."
- John Cayley
"Everything seems to happen at once in Western Civ, where synchronicity has turned into prosody and Joan Retallack is keeping time according to a seat-of-the-pants principle of radical swerves, sparkling overlays, aphoristic charms, and allegorical structures. ('To compose a life by composing words in a poem.') At the center of this collection is an elegy for Stefan Fitterman, who died of AIDS in 1993: the disappearing letters (A-I-D-S and then those adjacent) are a perfect viral analogy to the ravages of disease, procedural form creating a place for mourning."
- Charles Bernstein
Joan Retallack is the author of eight books of poetry, including Memnoir, How To Do Things With Words, and Afterrimages. She is also the author of MUSICAGE, a volume of conversations she had with John Cage over a three-year period. Her most recent critical works are The Poethical Wager and Gertrude Stein: Selections for which she wrote an extensive introductory essay. Retallack is the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Professor of Humanities at Bard College.
Publication date: June 2010