Nature is not natural and can never be naturalized — Graham Harman

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Jorie Graham's Sea Change

She gave me a copy, so kindly, inscribed so nicely, when I spoke earlier this week at Harvard. I'm just starting to read them. There's a certain feeling about opening a fresh book of poems. A sense of strangeness, even slight fear. How will these open me?

So it will take me some time to absorb them all—but the first thing I can say for sure is, this is a very physical collection of poems. When I hear the title I think of The Tempest:

Full fathom five thy father lies,
Of his bones are coral made,
Those are the pearls that were his eyes,
Nothing of him that doth fade
But doth suffer a sea change
Into something rich and strange.

It's about objects, isn't it? How they aren't what you think they are. I'm at the poem “Embodies” and it's striking me this way.

The book has a certain feel in your hands and the lettering on the cover is beautifully colored.

I set those lines of Shakespeare to music once. They are very evocative for me. See Derek Jarman's The Tempest if you can: the way they happen there is just, wow.

1 comment:

Steve Mentz said...

I blogged about this book, which I wanted to like more than I really did, a little while ago --

I do agree about objects in Ariel's song, though I've also written about them in terms of the "dissolving chemistry of the sea" works, as each object becomes less itself over time. I suppose that's "withdrawl," but not into anything firm or solid.

Just gave an oceanic talk at U Conn Avery Point, the maritime campus on the coast, that included a riff on Tropical Storm Irene as hyperobject, btw, in case your ears were burning.