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Tuesday, June 07, 2011

The Collage Book of Drafts - by Rachel Blau DuPlessis

Biographical note: Rachel Blau DuPlessis is an American poet-critic, whose long poem project, Drafts, begun in 1986, is collected in several book-length instalments. These include Pitch: Drafts 77-95 as well as Torques: Drafts 58-76, Drafts 39-57, Pledge, with Draft unnnumbered: Précis and Drafts 1-38, Toll. In 2006, two books of her innovative essays were published: Blue Studios: Poetry and Its Cultural Work on gender and poetics, along with the ground-breaking The Pink Guitar: Writing as Feminist Practice.

Main description: Rachel Blau DuPlessis has, to cite Walter Benjamin, “an edgy attraction to history’s material residues.” This has been one motivation of Drafts as a decade-long project, and it is a central motivation for The Collage Poems of Drafts. This book consists of two sequenced mixed-media works for reading and looking that move back and forth across the porous border between language and image. Draft 94: Mail Art alludes to the international collage exchanges send by the post; Draft CX: Primer examines the suggestiveness of the alphabet as one baseline of language and poetry, one method of making signs. Both works suggest the transport of daily life. These collages are acts of making, layering, and evoking by juxtaposition. They are cryptic, gnomic, even partly narrative, but as a whole they announce her fundamental commitment to juxtaposition—via syntax and segment in the poetry, and via image and color in the collages. They produce actualized metaphor, with talismanic signage, gnomic language, color, script, string—a thread of suggestive meanings set in play. These works are part of the bricolaging, anti-monumental sensibility of the work as a whole. They glean, they unpack and layer, they deturn images, they rescue and reframe the debris.

I tried, and then I tried, and then I ran out of technical know-how, to give you examples of the pages in this book - but failed. See them for yourselves at

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