Left Having

BY Jesse Seldess

Left Having Download Sample PDF

ISBN: 9780976736486 (2011)

Jesse Seldess’ second full length book of poetry. Seldess is the author of Who Opens (Kenning Editions, 2006) and chapbooks from Instance Press, Hand Held Editions, Answer Tag Home Press, and the Chicago Poetry Project. Since 2001 he has edited and published Antennae, a journal of experimental writing and language-based performance and music scores.

Laura Elrick:

Brian Massumi once wrote that the conscious narration of affective states is subtractive, a retrospective reduction of underlying bodily complexity made to fit requirements of continuity and linear causality. Sliding away from the “continuities” of foreclosed presents and enfolded pasts, Jesse Seldess’ Left Having might be read as a non-subtractive exploration of the virtual remainders of such narrations (of historical trauma, of the time of events, of a person now present in a city or a room…). Seldess resituates us “Beyond the scattered signaling” of history – in pulse rates that flow through and across their own fractures and stalls – so we can hear the “Distance just now reaching us.” These signalings (with gracefully decaying half tones in them) evoke both the familiarity and strangeness of durational life. As in the epigraph to the book taken from Alvin Lucier’s famous work (in which he records his own “disfluent” speech, playing it back into the room and re-recording it repeatedly), what can finally be heard in Seldess’ writing are the resonant frequencies of the architecture itself. That architecture’s “End” (of which Seldess has also produced a video with artist Leonie Weber) is always ending but never done, because it turns back into itself (through us) toward something…else.

Steve Benson:

One sees lines coming into being going out of existence.  Taken that way, the words turning toward lines, seeing them become one another as they differ among themselves and dissipate into words and as spaces, this reader virtually floats and within this active resting state practices an incredible intimacy with the unknown in communication and in sharing an imminent sensate awareness with its language.  Jesse Seldess’s work performs this book, honoring and taking full advantage of its occasion to replace any knowing with the certainty of a relentlessly generous nature.  I will never get to the bottom of it, and this work demonstrates what a pleasure and what an honest reckoning that can be.

Donna Stonecipher:

Left Having is a virtuoso performance of contending forces: subject and object, I and you, the will behind utterance and the will of utterance itself. In these deftly musical poems, language (object) turns into subject, always escaping the speaker’s will. Seldess takes us on a highly pleasurable journey into the materiality of semes, but behind the pleasure lies an urgency: how a hair’s-breadth difference between two words can translate to chasms of difference in meaning. What if the word were liable, what if it were reliable? The slipperiness of the signifier in Seldess’s inquiry into the conditional questions the very routes that events take to unfold. The brilliant final section is an investigation into the intersection of deixis and time, the certainty implied by pointing thwarted constantly by the delay in finding the word—the act of writing’s inherent deixis questioned, challenged. In Left Having, Jesse Seldess has given us a magnificent meditation on utterance itself.