Hannah Weiner’s Open House, by Hannah Weiner.
Edited and with an introduction by Patrick F. Durgin.
ISBN 0-9767364-1-1 (2006) $14.95
Hannah Weiner’s influence extends from the sixties New York avant-garde, where she was part of an unprecedented confluence of poets, performance and visual artists including Phillip Glass, Andy Warhol, Carolee Schneeman, John Perrault, David Antin, and Bernadette Mayer. Like fellow-traveler Jackson Mac Low, she became an important part of the Language movement of the 70s and 80s, yet her influence can be seen in the “New Narrative” work stemming from the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as in contemporary poetics. With other posthumous publications of late, her work is being discussed by scholars in feminist studies, poetics, and disability studies. But there does not yet exist a representative selection spanning her decades of poetic output. HANNAH WEINER’S OPEN HOUSE aims to remedy this with previously uncollected (and mostly never-published) work, including performance texts, early New York School influenced lyric poems, odes and remembrances to / of Mac Low and Ted Berrigan, and later “clair-style” works.
Hannah Weiner is one of the great American linguistic inventors of the last thirty years of the 20th century. Patrick Durgin has brought together touchstone works, some familiar and some never before published. HANNAH WEINER’S OPEN HOUSE provides the only single volume introduction to the full range of Weiner’s vibrant, enthralling, and unique contribution to the poetry of the Americas.—Charles Bernstein
Hannah Weiner’s syncopated patterning uncovers a conversation so thrilling that I never want it to end. As Frank O’Hara had earlier shifted the stable lyric self into a multiplicity of positions (“I don’t know what blood’s in me”), Weiner began in overdrive and rocketed outward, inhabiting texts and communities with the same skill with which she herself was inhabited.—Dodie Bellamy
If her art both early & late insures her standing within the twentieth-century avant-garde, it connects her as well to the experience & writings of many traditional poet-mystics (clairvoyants in her word for them & for herself). It is, when taken as a whole, an achievement without precedent or comparison among her sometimes better-known contemporaries.—Jerome Rothenberg
HANNAH WEINER’S OPEN HOUSE restores a crucial figure to the present.—Liz Kotz
The Hannah Weiner I see in the cover photo on Hannah Weiner’s Open House expresses that happy visionary promise of creative youth and unbounded possibilities. In profile, beautiful and upward looking, she could be gazing into a lover’s eyes if that lover were Words or Art or Poetry or Life. She looks like a Jewish Radcliffe girl from the 1960s with artistic aspirations, which she was. She doesn’t look as if she would end up schizophrenic, alone, reclusive, delusional/clairvoyant, loved by her sorely tested literary friends and supporters but ultimately beyond their reach, which she did. She is a spiritual ancestor–a “page mother”–of many writers and aspiring creative women now, myself included, but there has persisted a stigma or stain of craziness surrounding single women who are creatively unorthodox, and in some ways underneath the admiration is a kind of fear, as if she were a cautionary tale about disoriented-because-unattached female vision-creators. That is why this photograph, the title Hannah Weiner’s Open House, and the book it frames is a tonic for the ethical and aesthetic dilemmas surrounding Hannah, her innovative artistry, and her illness, and most especially the critical discourse around her work. Editor Patrick Durgin’s labor of love brings Hannah back into legible harmonious discourse, without domesticating or disempowering her poetics. This is essentially a “selected,” spanning Weiner’s writing career from the late 1960s to her death in 1997, and comprising both well-known and previously unpublished work. It is beautifully designed and very pleasing to (be)hold and read.—Maria Damon
The Clairvoyant Journal records Weiner’s daily life in the three voices her typewriter could legibly distinguish. The result is one of the most exhilarating, exhausting, and unsettling texts ever written, words precipitating out of supersaturated solution to pop up above or below lines already too full to parse. …The implications, for Weiner personally and for any society that might hope to include her, are clearly terrifying, and one of the great achievements of Hannah Weiner’s Open House is that we are allowed to glimpse the acute political consciousness with which Weiner worked through these implications.—Peter Manson, Chicago Review
…with Hannah Weiner’s Open House, we finally have a first good step toward presenting her work in print in the same kind of comprehensive & intelligent fashion that has so transformed Jack Spicer’s influence…—Ron Silliman, Silliman’s Blog
Weiner’s ceaseless effort to find a format adequate to her experiences as a psychic medium resulted in the ever-changing forms and surfaces of her work. As a result, her friends’ and advocates’ efforts to build her legacy make for a series of exhaustive, self-sacrificing labors that, while failing to fix a monument, create something better: a living zone in which Weiner emerges from between and among the Web sites, essays, and books assembled in her honor. Hannah Weiner’s Open House is the latest of these efforts…that in its multiplicity captures Weiner’s own indefatigable zeal for formal inquiry and her effort to reproduce in various media the many voices in her life.—Joyelle McSweeney, Boston Review
Quite clearly this will be one of the top books to have this year. The writing is invaluable.—James Wagner, Esther Press
Hannah Weiner’s Open House, edited by Patrick Durgin, is one of the most lovingly assembled and attractively designed selected works collections I have ever seen. If you have only seen the few samples of Weiner’s work included in anthologies like In the American Tree and Postmodern American Poetry, this is an excellent way to get a fuller sense of the scope of her total production. Pieces like “Radcliffe and Guatemalan Women,” which combine discursive strains from different contexts, cohere into a sober and sometimes savage clarity of satirical and/or tragic vision, in ways that might come as a surprise to those who are familiar mainly with the more flamboyantly “clairvoyant” graphic arrangements of the more well-known poems.—K. Silem Mohammad, Limetree
That Durgin has opened the house, and delivered an edition which allows readers coming to Weiner’s work for the first time to consider the full range of her accomplishment, is in itself a considerable achievement.—Richard Owns, Aufgabe
Coupled with the “Early and Clairvoyant Journals,” also edited by Durgin…there is now some initial basis to pattern a “whole” Hannah Weiner, though not an “un-split” one (“self” meaning at its root “apart”). Both Hannah Weiner’s Open House and the journals include welcome introductions by Durgin, with the former leaning toward her work’s context while the more discursive online one poses a critical reading emphasizing in part her unique ability. Both include a compass of critical writings on Weiner, which, while all terrific, reveal a relative paucity in light of her importance…A great boon of Hannah Weiner’s Open House lies in gathering her career-wide formal inflections in one place for the first time.—Sam Truitt, Line on Line/American Book Review