Friday, June 15, 2007

Fragments of fragments

Yesterday I bought a book, my first book purchase at this conference and it's a hardback: The Wet Collection by Joni Tevis. I heard Tevis read from the book the other day and I had to have it. The title offers no hint of the joys within: it's a collection of brief, almost fragmentary essays written in lyrical prose; in fact, Tevis said that some of these essays started off as syllabic poetry. Here are a few fragments of her fragments:

From "A Field Guide to Iridescence and Memory":
Bring silence, and an ear tuned to slight differences. Bring palms embedded with grit; bring water. Comb the world for clues. The banded agate damp with lake water, crusted with sand: get close, peering, picking through. Find the pottery shard hid in dirt; find the dirt. Exile is a condition of the redeemed life. Remember: you find what you look for; when presented with a fragment, fit a builded life to it. Line the pieces up and study them, catalogue and compare. Remember to keep careful notes. In India ink, which resists fade and run.

From "Postcards from Costa Rica":
Marks on a page, tracks and punctures and glyphs in the sand: these, my closest notes, I still can't translate, only squint and puzzle while the wind scours them clean. Years have passed and here's what I remember: a beloved child; the careful, constant work of insect, crustacean, reptile. I'll honor the glory of these days' passing, tell the things my eyes have seen.

I've owned the book under 24 hours and I'm more than halfway through. It's luminous, sometimes humorous, always evocative, and it demands re-reading. That's my kind of book.

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