Pitch: Drafts 77-95 is a skeptical monument built and reassembled by a continuous folding over itself—tracking an encounter with an edge we might pitch over, with the pitch dark of our time, with our lurching desires to do the necessary work of seeing and understanding.
Anchored by two major serial poems proposing a poetics of the trace and responding to a key work of George Oppen, DuPlessis continues in this fifth book of nineteen poems working with themes of awe and grief, of confrontation with the world as it is and the projection, from the shards, of chips and gleams of another world.
The work is multi-generic, with a dazzling range from proverbs, fragments and interrogations to lists and open-page works. Drafts embodies and exfoliates a poetics of critique inside poetry, producing one of the more distinctive ethical-aesthetic practices in contemporary poetry. Other highlights of this collection are a two-poem dialogue with a work of Ingeborg Bachmann, a rewriting of a work of S.T. Coleridge, and an investigation of the meaning of writing that incorporates a serio-comic playlet between R and her Pen.
‘Reading Rachel Blau DuPlessis, I am immediately engaged with the breadth of an American “now” that is possible to inhabit, a public rhetoric of habitation of space and – dare I say it-- meaning, that is intimate with the reader: questioning the structure from inside, the structures of poem and those of being, of being one and numerous, of being woman and numerous, of having a voice raised and lexicon numerous. Of lifting a pen relentless. Her Pitch absorbs light not to deaden it but to give off a radiance of language that is ours, that we can take on, that I do take on. Here there is a music and variousness of form and address, there is democracy as action, and a mind passionately alive in our my century. And, may I add: the fun of it. Sheer mind is being the fun of it! (Excess explored here too. Where excess is numerousness, and the numerous, is an intimacy too.)’ —Erin Mouré
‘Rachel Blau DuPlessis’ scholarly and personal investigations into associative memories, sonic word-links, letter by letter relays, and the multi-layered knowledges and surprises of language continue to inspire the rich and crucial meanderings of her ambitious poetic project. Dig into this well-pitched, finely patched ensemble of pieces.’ —Caroline Bergvall
‘One of the most ambitious undertakings by an American poet, Drafts is, at any given moment, a political poem, a philosophic autobiography, a compelling midrash on its exemplary ancestors, a watchful but playful refashioning of its own prior moments. Boldly snatching its title from Pound, its continual formal inventiveness furnishes a most necessary corrective to the epic authoritarianism of The Cantos. It is, at all points, a courageous and witty struggle to open modernism up to feminism, or, more broadly, to imagine how a truly ethical culture might sound.’ —Bob Perelman