Text, Textile, Exile:
Meditations on Poetics, Metaphor,
and Net-work

A talk by Maria Damon

Poet Clark Coolidge has said that language is the thinnest material we have available to us. But yet it is material; and in Coolidge’s sense, it is a fabric, a membrane, or a textile, an intimate environment we wear or move in like skin. What does it mean to attend to the materiality of language? What are the ethics (and aesthetics) of materializing language? At one extreme there is the literalization of metaphor that implies madness or fascism; at the other end –or is it another end?– there are the rituals of religion, like transubstantiation, that aim at liberation from the material through the material. Where is poetry on that continuum, if it is a continuum?

I investigate the relation of text and textile, including their frequent use as metaphors for each other, through thinking as well as a textile practice. In a naïve, hobbyist approach to the textile arts of weaving and cross-stitch, I literalize language’s materiality in ornately embroidered letters, one– or two-word visual poems, that I send to others involved in similar investigations: poets, scholars, friends. I have asked these recipients to write back reflecting on their experience of the gift (poetry participates in the economy of gift and theft, rather than the economy of exchange), and will cobble their responses together with my own in-process thinking about text, textile, – exile.

Maria Damon
Maria Damon teaches poetry and poetics at the University of Minnesota, where she is Professor of English. She is the author of The Dark End of the Street: Margins in American Vanguard Poetry (1993) and the forthcoming Bagel Shop Jazz: Selected Essays for a Post-literary ‘America’; co-author (with mIEKAL aND) of Literature Nation (2004), pleasureTEXTpossession (2005), and eros/ion (2007); and co-editor, with Ira Livingston, of Poetry and Cultural Studies: A Reader (forthcoming, 2009).

The talk will be held in English and will be followed by discussion and drinks.

Please make reservations with Anda Klavina: 26880458, aklavina@yahoo.co.uk