138.1: Brian Teare:: watercolor and graphite on paper, fifteen by fifteen inches & There are an infinite number of different kinds of happiness. & And to think I am small and the work is small. & Like a dignified journey with no trouble and no goal on and on.
15 April 2013
As digital forms of publishing continue to proliferate, those of us who love the book as a physical object can only feel somewhat uneasy. Will that visceral pleasure I get from holding a book, feeling the weight of the pages, and understanding that writing is the creation of an object begin to vanish? (I say this knowing that, as an editor of an online journal, I am part of this evolution.) But then I see poems like Brian Teare's here, and I wonder if the digital form will spawn a new poetic approach that seeks to create writing as an object through form and content. The title of the first poem is not a title at all; it's a description of the form on which the poem is written: "watercolor and graphite on paper, fifteen by fifteen inches." The poem is formally constructed so that a page becomes visible within the poem itself; the digital form of publication falls away, secondary to the object that the poem creates of itself as it is being read: "thought takes shape." And the thought that takes shape through the tangibility Teare fashions is the knowledge of the body, "a strangely spacious framework / in which to consider the mortal." The poems create bodies as the bodies in the poems struggle with survival. Teare asks "how can I own something I am?" The devastating answer these poems hand us as we leave is: "our looking is what we see / its tension its signature."