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Rachel Blau DuPlessis




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This book brings Drafts, the long poem by Rachel Blau DuPlessis, to its mid-point. A polyphonic work, both monumental and provisional, Drafts asks how to represent our sense of direness and ethical crises, the awe, asonishment, skepticism and pleasure: that all this is. This installment of nineteen Drafts is dedicated to its own poetic and political communities, offering these dedications as pledges to transformation out of social rage and out of grief-inflected hope. The book also contains a witty “summary” of all fifty-seven Drafts to date. This book makes clear the ways DuPlessis’ long poem is a midrashic response to the long poems of modernism and the tolls of modernity. She is a poet of polysemy, of negativity, of critique. Of Drafts, Walter Kaladjian remarked, “DuPlessis’ avant-garde procedures are imbricated in an ethicopolitical mode of poetic testimony.” Nathaniel Mackey said that Drafts “affirm and negate the toll history takes on letter and spirit, affirming and negating and navigating a way between.”

Reviews of this Book

‘DuPlessis has created one of the most sustained and magnificent meditations written by a contemporary poet on loss, presence, and the haunting persistence of language to redeem what has vanished.’ —Patrick Pritchett

‘Given the beauty and complexity of these drafts, it’s not much of an axaggeration to say DuPlessis has invented a new way of integrating poetic form and content. Readers get to choose between standing back to stare in awe of the compex formal structure or to step inside and spend hours eyeing the fine detail of each poem up close.’ —Andrew Ervin

Drafts is proving to be one of the major poetic achievements of our time.’ —Ron Silliman

‘What characterizes Drafts 39-57 is the specificity of historical/contemporary cultural and political referents, the density of essayistic allusion and cerebral engagement, and the poems’ insistence on displaying the degree to which they are inflected – but not determined – by a range of compelling axes of identifications or “identities” as they are materially experienced: “woman,” “Jew,” “writer,” all of which seem inseparable from each other and from “thinker.”’ —Maria Damon

‘This volume continues what Ron Silliman has heralded as "one of the major poetic achievements of our time," an ongoing, open-ended and life-long poetic series, Drafts, in the spirit of Robert Duncan's H.D. Book, Passages and Structure of Rime; bpNichol's Martyrology; and Nathaniel Mackey's fictional F/rom a Broken Bottle Traces of Perfume Still Emanate as well as his poetic Songs of the Andoumboulou. In fact it is hard to find something to say about this powerful serial that hasn't already been said, and with eloquence worthy of its subject – often by the poet herself both in the poems and in the many poetics statements this most self-reflexively rigorous poet has disseminated in public space. To wit this beautiful fragment, from "Draft 52: Midrash":

an impossible draft of half-built, half-crumbled

all-suspicious poetry.

’ —Maria Damon

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