The Front Matter, Dead Souls

Leslie Scalapino, Author Wesleyan University Press $26 (103p) ISBN 978-0-8195-5290-7
Avant-garde poet Scalapino (Defoe) addresses the phenomenon of meaning in this prose-poem in seven chapters, described as ""a serial novel for publication in a newspaper."" Attempting to capture simultaneous experiences of observing, absorbing and signifying in the sequential nature of language and description, she writes the viewer's experience of the media, tracking the carnage that our desire for image produces. The fact that little meaning can be gleaned is the point. A character called ""Dead Souls"" floats among other cartoon-like figures, sumo wrestlers, blond bimbos and the recurrent female ""Defoe."" Unable to participate in the anti-narratives of our information network, the first person fails. Poets must ""lip read themselves"" in trying to find the language to enter and undo the pseudo-events we witness. There may be no self left to act either outside or inside the spectacle: ""Manipulated is solely public itself. I can't find it."" (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/04/1996
Release date: 03/01/1996
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