098.1: Heather Christle:: The Seaside! & An Activity & How Like an Island
2 April 2012
While conducting research for this introduction, I discovered something very strange about Heather Christle. For two weeks in July 2011, after Christle released her second book The Trees The Trees, you could call her number and she would read a poem from her book. Since I only just learned about these telephone readings, I never called, but I wonder what it’s like to call a stranger and ask her for something, her work, to perform or to not perform. I wonder if she took time with callers or quickly did what was asked of her. I wonder how she selected poems to read, if something in the caller’s voice was enough to make the selection or if their selection was predetermined. That is, caller one would receive poem one, caller two poem two, and so on. I wondered if they wanted to tell her things, tell her things like the speakers do in this week’s selection from Christle. In “The Seaside!” we question whether the captain listens and if our speaker will ever be free from his devotion to this figure and the sea. Love is the trap—just as in “How Like an Island” the “we” is moored to the sea’s floor. There is breathlessness, urgency, and desperation to these poems as if at any moment the person on the other end may hang up that phone. Christle delicately balances this against the absurd. Read these. Then call a stranger. Tell them a secret. Hang up before they can respond.