Ephemera, doggerel, fragments, “weird English” (props to Evelyn Ch’ien), graffiti, community and individual survival — écriture brute, folk letters, textile patterns; naive lettrism (as well as belletrisme and lettrisme brute); wise oraliture, gnomic thought-bytes and lyrical bullets, clairaudient visitations with a hermeneutic spin — the marriage of esotericism and exotericism, banality and exoticism. Embedded in contextual specificity but deracinated — the historic exile, the monadic nomad, the centrifugal community that lets fly its auratic verbal detritus. These are poetries that fly beneath the radar of accepted poetic practice, that is not practice but object — these are processes rather than object/products. I’ve explained the term elsewhere as originating in Mark Slobin’s term “micromusics” (in Tenement Songs: Micromusics of the West) by which he means fragments, lullabies, tunes, extremely localized bits of expressive culture carried from the Eastern Europe pale of settlement to New York in the great migrations 1880-1940; individual shtetlach (villages), families, locales had unique musics that made the journey and morphed, somehow surviving. This is also the resonance of W. E. B. Du Bois’s anecdote in “Of the Sorrow Songs,” wherein he tells of his grandfather’s grandmother bringing a song with her which traveled not only spatially across the Middle Passage but temporally down the generations to have been sung to him when he was a small child. He prints the music, the transliteration of the syllables he doesn’t understand, and from that archaeological fragment constructs a theory of cultural transmission. The presence of fire in resonant landscapes — resonant for those bigeared ones.

Maria Damon, originally published in XCP no 15/16 (2005)

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