The Seeds of Labor

The Sower, by Van Gogh. 1888

Sometimes, poetry is like a mystery, like a detective story put to song. Sometimes similes and metaphors string bits of life (like notes) into a song, a symphony, or a collage of chords never heard together. The point. Yes, that’s often the point. The bridge works for visuals as well. And for tactiles. The bridges work between humans, between nature, between humans and nature and beyond. Inside, outside, vertically, horizontally, depth and foreground, finding all dimensions, incorporating disparate elements. Harmonizing. Even atonally. Even off key to form new strings of keys washing into larger lakes, rivers, oceans of meaning.…

Jill Magi: Labor Lost and Found



by Jill Magi

Last fall I found myself at the gate of an archive. Remembering something from my labor and union past and thinking about my work life at present, I came across the on-line finding guides for the Wagner Labor Archive at New York University. The writings here are a warm-up to my trip into that archive. As of this spring, I’ve been inside, but that writing—is it poetry?—is slow to come along. For now, I’m using exposition to trace the outline of a shape I do not yet know.

November 4, 2008

On the day of an historical election, after weeks of hearing the word “socialism” used as a weapon (as they bail out the banks), I am anxious.

Dimensions: More Than Spatiality

Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase. 1912

Below, we have a new essay by Robert Mueller. He deals with two fine poets, Barbara Guest and Jill Magi, with imagination and verve.

Jill Magi’s author’s page over at Shearsman Books can be found here. Jill’s homepage can be found here.


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The topic of poetic space on the page is an interesting one. How it looks alters our reception and perception. We read it differently to ourselves depending upon topography.

Poetry is both spatial and aural. Traditionally, poetry was heard, not seen, passed down to us from bard to bard, from shaman to shaman, registering across the centuries in the ear, as we imagined the words and their referents with our inner eye.…

Robert Mueller: Barbara Guest and Jill Magi

Barbara Guest, Now Jill Magi in brevi


Robert Mueller

Shearsman Books, which seems to specialize in poets on their way, recently brought out a fine collection of poetry by Jill Magi, her second full volume, titled Torchwood. This collection is assembled uncharacteristically, even for a time when in poetry books great attention is paid to the presentation. For Magi, it started with the patchwork of historical and personal documentation of her earlier volume Threads (Futurepoem, 2007), and is extended here in a sequencing and a selection that are beautifully realized. The poet nurtures a light touch, sometimes a homey touch, and almost always the quick and sure calibration.

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