Propagation

BY Laura Elrick

Propagation Download Sample PDF
$14.95

ISBN: 9780984647583 (2012)

PROPAGATION’s minimalist scoring belies an obsession with the gestural repleteness of discourse, with what poet and linguist Henri Meschonnic called the embodied aptitude of language (“a poem is an activity, not a product”). One central activity of this poem is listening, to language public and private, living and mediated, and to texts we read silently or aloud to one another. A series, the poems in PROPAGATION also test audible vectors by sifting and colliding, graphing and distilling. What emerges is both residue and metamorphosis: a materialist sensing of the complex ecosystems of language and experience.

Laura Elrick is the author of PROPAGATION (Kenning Editions ,2012), FANTASIES IN PERMEABLE STRUCTURES (Factory School, 2005), and SKINCERITY (Krupskaya, 2003). Her psychogeographically-inspired research and performance works include the oppositional cartography Blocks Away (2010), the video-poem Stalk (2008), and a sound work, 5 Audio Pieces for Doubled Voice (2005). Her work also appears in Against Expression: An Anthology of Conceptual Writing, VIZ. INTER-ARTS EVENT: A TRANS- GENRE ANTHOLOGY, and ECO LANGUAGE READER. She currently teaches poetry and poetics at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY

Reviews
Lyn Hejinian:

Laura Elrick’s Propagation is incantatory, magical, mischievous, devilish. Its syntax is resistant, fluid, impeded; its lineation outwits givens, decommodifies ideas, modulates stances, transforms terms. The poems are moody—sullen, fanciful, sardonic, meditative, funny, mad. Propagation, in other words, invites multiple readings, but not only because one can voice its polyphonic perspective so variously; it does so, above all, because it is enchanting, wondrous. In the myth, Pandora’s box turned out to contain mostly sinister forces and the origins of human woe. Elrick’s Propagation acknowledges the presence of this sad panoply, but what emerges most forcefully from this book is the revolutionary power of hope, not as mere promise but as an articulate practice.

Jordan Scott:

Propagation imagines a poetics in corporeal and synaptic listenings, where we find ourselves wondering to what are we obedient? The syllable? The ear? At times in this book, I am still and bodily (an almost watching) but simultaneously I am struck by the movement between what is aural and what is a lurking narrative. And where the brilliance lies is that we begin to recognize our own patterns in Elrick’s.  Within a poetics that interrogates (as sleep patterns) the tension of what we are meant to say and what our bodies permit. There is no feigned fluency here.  But there is pleasure – in listening to Propagation – the language as cochlear strata opening towards a something, that while lacking in certitude, relishes in what is disfluent. You are here. Amassing something in the folds.

Judith Goldman:

In unkettleable, molecularized refrains, Laura Elrick builds immersive environments that pick up and reinflect the distributed attention of networked subjectivity in our contemporary phonotope.  Read-listen as ambient strains turn focal through expert recursive manipulation of unauthored fragments.  Here iteration of apparently simple functions produces complex behaviors: Propagation lets commonsing convene dissonance || “talking matters and silence silence matters” || catches disavowal in its very turns of veiling || “I would never never” || and yet sees “a fraction of love” as “a whole fraction.”  The “earworms” of the resulting radio-Orphée present a disembodied corporeality of sound loaded with psychoacoustic resonance: “do you do you want seriously want” || yes-say-yes.

Tyrone Williams:

Somewhat after the manner of Rusty Morrison’s the true keeps calm biding its time, Laura Elrick’s Propagation deploys repetition with a difference to mimic the shifting structures of trauma. However, Elrick, drawing on the rhetoric of art, poetics, media and psychiatry, expands the field. Trauma is here the internalization of normative development, the ways the different, the other, the disturbing—in short, violence—is absorbed and domesticated. Specifically, Elrick’s “affective physics of discourse” explores, at the level of the poetic line, word and syllable, the socio- and psycho-linguistics of the “turn” to affective criticism in recent years (I’m thinking in particular of Sianne Ngai’s Ugly Feelings). As the title of this book suggests, Elrick thinks of our varied but similar discourses as ideologically, if not causally, related, a network of rhetorics that reinforce and augment one another. From a “simple” grocery list that begins with “apples/spinach/ chick peas” and ends with “toilet paper/soap” (p. 37), Elrick reminds us of the culture-specific, rather everyday activities, that inculcate what we sometimes casually call attitudes. Moreover, to the extent terms acquire meaning from what both precedes and succeeds them (e.g., “chick peas” radiate gender-specific issues after lines like “the breast whiskers/yes the breast/whiskers yes,” page 15,  as well as before lines like “we didn’t/see her not/here we/2 hers/wait skirt/skirt/the paparazzi,” page 49), the very use and acceptance of  everyday language binds us to the ideologies we otherwise resist. And if gender is privileged in this reading vis-a-vis the multiple discourses comprising Propagation, it’s because I read this book as an emendation and augmentation of Elrick’s troubling (as content and as a project) video-poem STALK. For me, at least, there are several passages in Propagation that draw me back to her concern with political prisoners (“heading where/heading where/there is no more/playing/no more playing/mr. nice/playing mr. nice of it help me he said/he said/he said no,” p. 55). But as I noted above, this book is not concerned solely with one sphere of power or one mode of discourse, The social, political and cultural spheres Elrick investigates include everything from the infantilization of people of color and women (“and nadja and dora and nella/and dorothea and claude/and zora”) to the retooling of hyper-virility as commodity (“arrogant bastard 7.2%), as unimpeachable quality (“passing at/failing/or failing at passing/or”), both of which are “coded” within the phrase/brand themselves, itself (“bas tard/ tard ba sept/plus tard/point/deux”). Just as Harryette Mullen’s early books are a necessary amendment to Stein’s (which does not exhaust the achievement of either writer), Elrick’s work here may be read as opening a third front, a third sphere that nonetheless intersects with Mullen’s and Stein’s, the works of all three comprising a Venn diagram that “mirrors” the social, political and cultural orders we call “life.” [Jacket2]

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