Jun 3, 2010

Reading / Streaming Memorial to Leslie Scalapino


A series of commentaries by poets and writers honoring Scalapino's work

In "Mourning Time," Reading
New Time

(for the First Time)



From Laura Hinton
New York City


It is better to go to the house of mourning, that to go to the house of feasting; for that is the end of all men....”


--Eccclesiastes, 7 (King James Bible Version, Oxford UP).


Rocking forward and backward.

Wavering in the subatomic netherworld, preoccupied by thoughts

Of mourning.


--Kristin Prevallet, I, Afterlife [Essay in Mourning Time]

While I don’t believe the world or its matter is organized – or that there is a “purpose under the heaven,” as the Ecclesiastes speaker rather ironically goes on to state -- I also believe that everything has a “time.” If not a “season,” not a binary sense of time as these lines rock from the Hebrew Bible: “A time to get ... a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away...”; but, rather, in a period of “mourning time,” a "season" that Kristin Prevallet, might call “Wavering."


Leslie Scalapino writes in New Time, “blossoms blossomed. in time.”


In this time of “wavering,” “blossoms” appear and disappear, signs of life overlapping and cyclical and yet always transforming and different. It was my time this week to pick up New Time, a Scalapino volume I have never read. And I do believe that occurrences like this occur “in time” – in that such times matter.


It was Lyn Hejinian who turned me toward the wonders of Leslie’s work in the early 1990s. The occasion was of my first meeting the two of them in Oakland, CA, at Leslie’s house then under the freeway overpass; and a flight from New York that almost didn’t exist – a changed airport, a canceled but aloft plane, two confused poets on the ground awaiting this young woman from New York. (This “occurrence” and its own rather comic time was memorialized in an Introduction I wrote to Leslie Scalapino’s writings for How2, published in 2004.)


So, upon the news of Leslie’s death, I wrote Lyn of my shock, my sadness, trying perhaps to recreate this inordinate strip, unexpectedness, of “mourning time.” (“”Rocking forward and backward...”?) Lyn responded with the words below (quoted with her permission):


“I am finding that reading her [Leslie’s] work today has made the sense of loss more intense but also been an anchor. Not that Leslie would have wanted anchors to be dropped. So I'll call the experience a float--a buoy on which to drift...”


Time ... anchors ... a float. “Wavering.”


I know Leslie would have wished us to “float” in this time. A woman who could write of reality’s contradictions in five alternative directions at once, and make that work on the page, was also a woman who would have honored our need to anchor ourselves, be in “mourning time” and yet “a float” -- “Wavering.” She would have honored us knowing, too, as no one else but the disciplined and unsentimental Leslie would have, that the mourning-time process is “not a comfort,” but rather entirely illusory.


People need the thought of comfort. There’s no comfort.*


Following Lyn’s example (in fact, before I checked my e-mail), I myself picked New Time off my shelves, and realized that, in the last decade, there never seemed to be time to read that particular book, New Time. Now, I instantly felt this was my time to open its pages. Immediately it became the “perfect” text – in this imperfect (horrible) moment: a text which doesn’t ebb and flow but flows and floods, in and out over the subject of the corporal body, over a time that is timelessness, as if effortless (you know it wasn’t) – in spite of the false “anchor” we breathe within of the human body -- and in our narrative traditions of (plenty of) time, in wave upon wave, almost imitated by the little graphic marks in New Time on the page, ones that separate each “section” as if not a “stanza” but a new lyric “time”, in time (almost like a musical notation).


In floods of partial syntactic phrases, and those “enervations,” to use Leslie’s repeated word in this book -- we read of the falsity of “comfort” although, at the same time, I almost feel the voice of Leslie speaking to me. Where is she?


The physical body has comfort

Sometimes

(enervated)

whereas this doesn’t *


A Buddhist meditation on “knowledge,” “hate,” “being”? A critique of the industry of psychological, or philosophical, or literary interpretation?


interpretative – blue destroying – it self – their – structure in

being after only

“it’s itself interpreting’ – reordering only – as it *


(I pause. I think of my work in – interpreting – writing about poetry. My “interpreting” Leslie Scalapino’s work to the academic “public.” Maria Damon raising her hand at a conference we attended together in Cancun, 1994, after I gave what must have been my first academic talk on Scalapino, Maria saying something that seemed complimentary: “You make this difficult work sound so clear. “ A compliment? I have long since come to appreciate what Rae Armantrout has asked us to ask: What is the meaning of clarity? Is the world clear?)


(Leslie and I had one conflict in our long years of knowing one another and sharing in this enterprise of reading-writing-re/reading and speaking about her writing. I had just finished a penultimate draft for the academic journal Textual Practice, a piece on The Return of Painting. I did what I thought was a complimentary and “brilliant” interpretation / reading / writing about Leslie’s cover photograph on the cover of A Triology. She had always liked my work. She asked to see it. Leslie didn’t like my reading of her photograph. I had written about the photograph as a critique of Romantic views of nature / poetry. She reclaimed it as spatialized "freedom." Does a writer have a right to tell a reader how to read her writing? Did we resolve this issue? No.)


***

I am sitting here in an upstate New York Memorial Day garden and my peonies are blooming their pink heads off. Soon, they will droop and die. Perhaps this week. In New Time, I recall, “blossoms blossomed.”


But in New Time there is also

rain: falling in sheets at the time. Sitting floating (not in it) (fictive

there while occurring *


In New Time, every event occurs -- at once. On five different planes, in seven different dimensions. What always feels like a remarkable re- “occurring” (as opposed to “occurrence,” the common expression) is also a different “occurring,” or difference “occurs,” for me, reading and re-reading Scalapino’s text. We see this (re- but “different” occurring over and over, yet in the difference that is time and space), in Leslie’s fine philosophical essays, her take on a “reality” based in that of language (which is all, but always partial / part of it); in her prose poems and novellas (my favorite being, yes, The Return of Painting), in her fragmented lyrical lines, like those now here in front of me reading, New Time. What is perhaps most remarkable about Leslie’s work, why one never grows tired while one is still exhausted by the effort of reading her, is this writer’s uncanny ability to detect difference: in being (not a “being” or “entity”), in events or “occurrences” (which are on-going “activity”), in the language of the image / the image of that language that discerns, then splits, strips away, at the “outside” she charges in New Time as being the authentic “inside.” (And is this what a physicist might call “matter” -- but what she would call “real.”)


These lines from New Time are both a social critique and an existential drama and a linguistic analysis at once:


Why would they dismiss it because it’s not the same?

It exists because its not the same


I do hear Leslie’s voice – I hear the mind/perspective, and the astonishment that things and expression would otherwise (other / wise) be. Wise to the “other /wise,” aware of “reality” of complex perspective through the deflection of “be-ing” rather than an image, a “comfort,” in some false reflectiveness of language.


No mirrors here. And this “new time” encompasses, or opens up, a new space:


To make a boundless space, in the sense of bounding in it...


The text itself “floats”:


that’s only – (the body) – just the floating sky


For me, it will be a “new time” without Leslie out there. For she who has commented on the loneliness of the world – “people don’t respond, ever, it’s not one’s” – her presence will be missed.


____

* NOTE:

Leslie Scalapino, New Time (Middletown, CT: Weslyan University Press, 1999).


***

Laura Hinton is the editor and main writer of this blog.


Jun 2, 2010

Streaming / Reading Memorial to Leslie Scalapino



A series of commentaries by poets and writers honoring Scalapino's work










“I've created this memory track":

Scalapino’s
Autobiography

From Ann Bogle
Minneapolis, Minnesota

I was in a summer poetry class taught by Kate Green in the Split Rock Arts Program in 1985 when I first read a poem by Leslie Scalapino. I kept confusing it and calling it The Split Arts Rock Program. The poems were in an anthology called 19 New American Poets of the Golden Gate edited by Phillip Dow. Of all the poets I read for the first time there—Jack Gilbert, Kathleen Fraser, Robert Hass, Linda Gregg, Jorie Graham, and others—it was Leslie Scalapino’s Considering how exaggerated music is that captured me as a phrase.

It was my first year in the real world. I lived with a somewhat older man—an experimental composer, musician, and mathematics librarian—and worked as a bookkeeper at a holistic veterinary clinic in Madison. Before I returned from my one-week stay in Duluth, a week he had spent camping alone on the north shore of Lake Superior, he called the dorm from a telephone pole in the woods and described the multiple varieties of moths at night. I quoted Scalapino: “considering how exaggerated music is, considering how exaggerated music is” as if it were a feminist one-liner, one we both liked immediately. Later we drove to Woodland Pattern in Milwaukee, and I found three books to change my life: Scalapino’s that they were at the beach, Linda Gregg’s Too Bright to See, and Jane Bowles’ Two Serious Ladies. That summer and because of those books I became a short story writer. I became a short story writer instead of continuing as a poet when I saw that Scalapino called her glinting narratives poems.

[…] I took the opportunity in 2008 to hear Leslie Scalapino read at Dixon Place, but I left abruptly after the reading when I might have eaten with her in a group. I wanted my adoration for her writing to stay pure, on a plane of writing, where it had started; I talked back at it—at shyness and mentor love—as I walked home.

When she died last week, I could not have predicted it, did not know she had been ill, felt a rush of sadness that came out as tears for someone I had read and seen yet not met, whose writing is the most original and truly contemporary of any—until then—living writer—I had read.

Scalapino approached the novel as Mina Loy approached poetry. The most literary writers resist memoir. Perhaps they think of it as commercial. Perhaps that is what Scalapino thought when she pitched her Autobiography[i] to Gale Research. She wrote the memoir for a month (mid-October to mid-November of 1997) for a $1,000 payment “as if the wage for a month’s writing.” After at first accepting the memoir, Joyce Nakamura of Gale Research rejected it because “It is too esoteric and not what our readers would expect. I mean I can appreciate the stream-of-consciousness and all—but this is going to be in libraries!” (50). Wesleyan published it in 2003.

Writing that classifies humor is rarely funny, rarely captures what James Robison describes as humor’s sacredness. In Autobiography, Scalapino writes, “Later, knowing it was manner of ‘extreme’ emotion of crying, I asked my father They were laughing? He said No, it appears to be the same but they were expressing grief. I took note interiorly later also that they were demonstrating strong emotion for a little girl. This indicated a difference between what people said occurs at all [in society] and what occurs in fact” (3).

This similarity between laughter and crying Scalapino demonstrates in further passages:

I saw The Bald Sopranos [as a young adult], the unintelligible incessant exchange of non sequiturs by a lineup of parrot-people, words back and forth like badminton—seated my muscles became flaccid throughout my frame, my jaw fixed open in laughter which was unable to make a sound and I was not able to close the jaw; weak frame slipping liquidly from the chair, terrified I would fall to the floor in the midst of the audience who were also gaping. Weakly hitting one’s hand against the shoulder of the man who was my husband then to ask for help but the hand so weak he didn’t notice. The response was laughing short-circuiting the brain so that it was in the muscles with no mind response, or it had closed down that passage. (5)

Where will innovative writers, not more cautious than she but less assuming in caution, go without her guide? To her books a laughing and crying muscle declension.

“—reading about Buddhism there was no ‘God’ and we have to die. There is no authority anywhere or in one. […]

“In the process, I’ve created this memory track. Yet had the sense that I had to make fixed memories move as illusion, that they move as illusion.” (2)



[i]All quotations are from “Autobiography” in Zither & Autobiography, by Leslie Scalapino (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2003).

___


PHOTO (above): Leslie Scalapino, 1985, taken by Tom White, reproduced in Autobiography as Figure 7.


---

Ann Bogle's short stories appear this month in Metazen and Istanbul Literary Review. Her stories have appeared in The Quarterly, Fiction International, Gulf Coast, Black Ice, Mad Hatters' Review, Big Bridge, and other journals. She is the author of XAM: Paragraph Series (Xexoxial Editions, 2005) and dog barks up a tree at the apple left in it under a deerslim moon (Orium Press for the Dusie Kollektiv, 2009). She blogs at Ana Verse.


Jun 1, 2010

Streaming / Reading Memorial to Leslie Scalapino

A series of commentaries by poets and writers honoring Scalapino's work

A Few Words about a Late Scalapino/Poem


From Cynthia Hogue

Phoenix, Arizona


This is a piece that starts with a meditation on the late, great Susan Sontag’s penultimate book, and ends with a contemplation of a work by the late, great Leslie Scalapino—a complex and fierce critique of the thinking that contributed to the invasion of Iraq. I offer these quite raw thoughts in the spirit of a tribute to Leslie Scalapino.)


Toward the end of her life, the fierce cultural critic and writer, Susan Sontag, published a book entitled Regarding the Pain of Others, which was a meditation on war photography and war art, catalyzed by the Bosnian War and the siege of Sarajevo in the last years of the twentieth c. In photography, obviously, the same verb is used for killing someone with a gun and taking her picture: we “shoot” an insurgent (or as is increasingly a strategic tactic among warring parties, a civilian); war photographers have “shot” soldiers in action (dying, raising a flag) that have become visual symbols in twentieth century history. * In writing, interestingly, we use the same verb, compose, to refer both to the process of creating a work and to setting it in type (since the advent of modern print culture): to cross from the immaterial to materialize form.


Sontag raises questions about the purpose and intent of the photographic war image that have also haunted culturally engaged postmodernist poets, who extend the notion of the graphic image into the ideographic poem, reacting to war’s ravages, investigating the very mindset of war-making as a way to undo the unthinking vengefulness and cynical opportunism that led to the Iraq war. Sontag remarks, writing about an early German film including documentary film footage and photographs of combat deaths in WWI, that “artists believed that if the horror could be made vivid enough, most people would finally take in the outrageousness, the insanity of war” (14). If the ideology of war remains seductive to a populace on its eve, artists who question that ideology by mirroring war’s actual consequences back to citizens as graphic imagery have been accused of being suffering’s voyeurs, and as Sontag puts it, “Some of the reproaches made against images of atrocity are not different from characterizations of sight itself. Sight is effortless; sight requires spatial distance; sight can be turned off (118). Yet the artists disrupting our visual comfort are also proffering, she argues, a deep and humane “invitation to pay attention, to reflect, to learn, to examine the rationalizations for mass suffering offered by established powers” (117). And if there is an antidote to the ideological seductions of war--an issue that takes a woman to raise, Sontag wryly notes—it in visual imagery that reconfigures its process of composition.


I want to turn now to consider this issue in terms of a poetics of cultural and political engagement at work within, upon, and beyond the thematic, works with multiple radiants (if we think of Pound’s redefinition of the Image with a capital “I” as a radiant node, a complex) generated in the ideographic and visually typographic text. I am concerned to contemplate methods the poets themselves have investigated to transmute and contain outrage and grief, cross boundaries from emotion to concept, idea to ideograph, and enter the public sphere. Such a text appeals to and affects the sensory field via sight, catalyzing multiple levels of attentiveness that refuse conventional seductions of both consolation and clarity. As Lyn Hejinian remarks (although you must forgive that I repeat quite willfully an initial innocent misreading of “politics” as “poetics,”), “It is, sadly, in the context of atrocity that a poetics of difficulty must evolve; it is in such a poetics (and in the artistic activity that would shape it) that the substance of meaningfulness will be able to appear (The Language of Inquiry 320).


The poetics of difficulty as Hejinian imagines it is a shaping force. It affects—envisions—a politics of difficulty, giving them substance and materiality. Such art goes beyond the poetry of consolation and mourning, for although such a role is surely among poetry’s most significant cultural tasks, who in the world can be finally consoled today? A poet of difficulty shifts the terms of the poem’s materiality not to express grief, though the poem may well be saturated with that emotion, but to concentrate into analytic focus lines, letters, morphemes that shatter and expose duplicity. The last sequence, “DeLay Rose,” in Leslie Scalapino’s recent collection, Day Ocean State Of Stars' Night, fastens on the figure of the corrupt former Texas senator, connecting him to the complex and shifting forces the effects of which are represented by the Iraq invasion and an inundated New Orleans that saw no aid arrive from the federal government for five full days after the flood (it was two full months before residents were allowed into the city to survey the damage).


Scalapino’s poem oscillates among the three figures, which surface and sink, visual metonyms that radiate out with a complex of associations. “DeLay Rose” is a documentary-style serial poem that includes collaged-in quotations from current events (our gov’t’s use of “extraordinary rendition,” for example, while claiming publicly that “We don’t torture,” 196 ), but it is also a text exploring the possibilities of a dematerializing materiality, a meaningful shattering of the hypocritical cynicism the powerful use to stabilize their control (at least, temporarily), which the series itself terms “decomposition” and “dismantling” (198). The series moves among its dislocated subjects in seamed and shifting passages of fractured lines and words, fissuring the unstoppable U.S. gov’t’s illogic like so many fracture breaks, or, heart-rendingly, body parts blown off by mines.


The series is elegiac for the multiple social and cultural losses, and for friends who died during the series’ writing—specifically for Robert Creeley and Jackson MacLow (just as this raw piece is elegiac for Scalapino herself, who died before I could revise and expand these notes into an essay). “DeLay Rose” opens by tracking (quoting) Creeley’s notion that two people in conversation are “in outside’s motion”: their “words” “catch up to being (in) one’s events” (168). The terror of the ecstatic is how we might describe how it feels “having to be in one’s events and not being// in them“ (168), but typography is what we use to track the di/vision:


wrecked Iraq Occur’s first with dome floating our penned

starving moved

also then

president’d for photos kiss the green corpses swim

ing in the flood than the living transported in

outside’s motion–the occurrence between–


(“DeLay Rose” 1)


Here Scalapino sketches in what Sontag has called, speaking of the determining spectacle effect of war photography today, “the CNN effect” (104). Iraq and the Katrina evacuees are real and tragic occurrences that have a life of their own outside the words used to refer to them or the photo ops that put them to crass use. If words and speech do not catch up with being, are they, then, lies?


Scalapino asks piercingly whether “’everything [is] only lies’” to destabilize Syria (or Iran) if:


destabiliz

ing is the inten

tion [?]

(196)


The investigative scrutiny of such governmental duplicity bespeaks a trenchant awareness of the transnational reach of a global superpower, but its typo/graphy destabilizes and exposes the destabilizers.


Delay’s geographically specific corruption functions like “an isobath”: an isobath is an “imaginary line” which connects points of equal depth – not only all that “DeLay” signifies, but also flooded New Orleans, which the gov’t DeLayed aiding, and Iraq, where soldiers were ordered to slaughter prisoners rather than “return with them to base,” and the soldiers followed the chain of command “until Fallujah filled // with// corpses”:


…………………naked Iraqi corpses tied as a deer on a Hum

vee’s hood,

sport Occur’s first a corpse killed driven on the hood through

the streets dome floating ours penned starving, moved–The

worst thing is–of the flooded poor here, left corpses swimming

–some of these people (will) want to stay in Texas, as if they

already do will want, the mother

of ‘our’ president says who’s from Texas.

(3)


The source of power may be invisible, but in this passage, the envisioned, geographic specificity renders blindness born of class privilege trenchantly visible.


Following the isobathic line of the imagery reveals (and ravels together) that which occurs beneath the surface, the surface being literally that of flooded New Orleans (but symbolically that of Atlantis). The graphic images are drawn from the same depths, horrific details uncovered by horror.


As Scalapino recalls within the frame of the poem,


Mac Low said to me I don’t believe in the ‘inside’

‘only’ or ‘when’ they ‘r making both?

r/both side s/at once

his

single syllables ‘s halo halos of an exterior circle which

(rather than our being in it ‘circular’) (which)

one hears as he’s ‘do ing’ this the syllables there?

and we’re not ‘in’ that


Hejinian, rereading Adorno’s famous contention that “To write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric,” argues for an oppositional stance that seems to me pertinent to Scalapino’s poem. Reading “barbarian” for its etymological roots in Greek meaning “foreign,” the poet as “barbarian,” Hejinian envisions the “poet-barbarian”: one who refuses to speak the same language as those purveying atrocity (326). In the passage above, Mac Low does not “believe” in the “inside”—whether inner circles of power and core meanings—taking nothing on faith. Syllables’ “s’s” function as “halos of an exterior circle,” shifted from aural to visual, the glowing emanation from the text: the paradox of the poem’s envisioning alternatives to insidership materializing through luminous and sibilant extraction.


The images in “DeLay Rose” seem at first separate, but as the poem unfolds in probing investigation, it tracks an isobath of hidden connections that the poem both reveals and discovers. “DeLay Rose” ends with the big wave outside our (the U.S.’s) shores, the “tsunami,” the “’wave.’” The two words are almost right justified, each on its own line. “Wave” is italicized. The wave hovers, both on the line and in our imaginations, both graphic and ideo/graphic, both word and—in the way of deep contextualized poetic engagement so distinct and consistent in Scalapino’s poetry—world.

___

NOTE: SEE Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003).

---

Cynthia Hogue is the author of several critical and poetry books. Her most recent book is Or Consequence (Red Hen Press, 2010)


May 30, 2010

Leslie Scalapino 1944-2010




There was no intention – being done – with their existing.
-- Scalapino’s New Time

Leslie Scalapino had no intention of “being done,” of dying. When I last saw her on March 30 during a spring California trip, Leslie was surrounded by younger poets and chatting with us all comfortably in her Oakland home. One would not have surmised that she was undergoing intensive cancer treatments. She looked well. She was wearing a bright hand-woven shawl out of woolen and silk threads in stunning dyed pinks and oranges. This was a gift that we – several of her East Coast writer friends – recently had offered her as a group gift -- hoping it would help her heal as she wrapped it around herself. We at least hoped it would keep her warm.

Leslie seemed to me newly optimistic. A couple of months previously, she had learned of her doctors’ gloomy prognoses -- that she would surely not successfully combat a virulent cancer that had already spread.

But now she was on an experimental treatment meant to assist the chemo as it killed the lethal cells. Sitting gracefully in her rocker, her colorful shawl draped across her shoulders and back, poetry and art books overflowing little tables, a beautiful white dog perched at her feet, and pointing at us to eat the visitors’ cookies provided, Leslie said in her quiet but commanding voice: “I hope it works.” She meant that special treatment.

“We hope it works, too, Leslie.” I said this. Or someone else said it. Or we all said it together.

The beloved mentor to so many, innovative poet of some of the bravest, most starkly original writings in contemporary America, died two days ago in the Bay Area, on May 28. I know she fought with every ounce of strength; she did have “no intention” of leaving us, of no longer writing more poetry books (nearly 40 published to date), of stepping off the globe, which now I believe has an unearthly wobble to it. We are out of balance, with Leslie’s loss.

I have heard – indirectly – that she died peacefully, and that her dear husband and companion of so many years, Tom White, was with her to the last. Or is this the legend of the dying already taking its mythic wings, to comfort the living?

Many of us who knew Leslie either a lot or just a little bit are feeling profound sadness. Tom himself composed a beautiful eulogy on behalf of Leslie, and since I understand that this is how he wants us to announce her passing, I reproduce it below in full.

But the photograph, above, is my selection of her. It was taken of Leslie the last day I ever last saw her, wearing that brightly colored and – by her own account – very warm shawl.

To conclude before Tom’s words below, I want to quote Leslie’s friend from Washington D.C., Lynne Dreyer, who in an e-mail to me today sent this prayer from the Jewish tradition, called El Rachamim, and said for a friend who is gone:

"may her soul be bound up in the bonds of eternal life and her memory be a blessing"

- LH
****

Leslie Scalapino

By Tom White


“Scalapino makes everything take place in real time, in the light and air and night where all of us live, everything happening at once.”


— Philip Whalen


Leslie Scalapino passed away on May 28, 2010 in Berkeley, California. She was born in Santa Barbara in 1944 and raised in Berkeley, California. After Berkeley High School, she attended Reed College in Portland, Oregon and received her B.A. in Literature in 1966. She received her M.A. in English from the University of California at Berkeley in 1969, after which she began to focus on writing poetry. Leslie Scalapino lived with Tom White, her husband and friend of 35 years, in Oakland, California.

In childhood, she traveled with her father Robert Scalapino, founder of UC Berkeley’s Institute for Asian Studies, her mother Dee Scalapino, known for her love of music, and her two sisters, Diane and Lynne, throughout Asia, Africa and Europe. She and Tom continued these travels including trips to Tibet, Bhutan, Japan, India, Yemen, Mongolia, Libya and elsewhere. Her writing was intensely influenced by these travels. She published her first book O and Other Poems in 1976, and since then has published thirty books of poetry, prose, inter-genre fiction, plays, essays, and collaborations. Scalapino’s most recent publications include a collaboration with artist Kiki Smith, The Animal is in the World like Water in Water (Granary Books), and Floats Horse-Floats or Horse-Flows (Starcherone Books), and her selected poems It’s go in horizontal / Selected Poems 1974-2006 (UC Press) was published in 2008. In 1988, her long poem way received the Poetry Center Award, the Lawrence Lipton Prize, and the American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation. Her plays have been performed in San Francisco at New Langton Arts, The Lab, Venue 9, and Forum; in New York by The Eye and Ear Theater and at Barnard College; and in Los Angeles at Beyond Baroque.

In 1986, Scalapino founded O Books as a publishing outlet for young and emerging poets, as well as prominent, innovative writers, and the list of nearly 100 titles includes authors such as Ted Berrigan, Robert Grenier, Fanny Howe, Tom Raworth, Norma Cole, Will Alexander, Alice Notley, Norman Fischer, Laura Moriarty, Michael McClure, Judith Goldman and many others. Scalapino is also the editor of four editions of O anthologies, as well as the periodicals Enough (with Rick London) and War and Peace (with Judith Goldman).

Scalapino taught writing at various institutions, including 16 years in the MFA program at Bard College, Mills College, the San Francisco Art Institute, California College of the Arts in San Francisco, San Francisco State University, UC San Diego, and the Naropa Institute.

Of her own writing, Scalapino says “my sense of a practice of writing and of action, the apprehension itself that ‘one is not oneself for even an instant’ – should not be,’ is to be participation in/is a social act. That is, the nature of this practice that’s to be ‘social act’ is it is without formation or custom.” Her writing, unbound by a single format, her collaborations with artists and other writers, her teaching, and publishing are evidence of this sense of her own practice, social acts that were her practice. Her generosity and fiercely engaged intelligence were everywhere evident to those who had the fortune to know her.

Scalapino has three books forthcoming in 2010. A book of two plays published in one volume, Flow-Winged Crocodile and A Pair / Actions Are Erased / Appear will come out in June 2010 from Chax Press; a new prose work, The Dihedrons Gazelle-Dihredals Zoom will be released this summer by Post-Apollo Press; and a revised and expanded collection of her essays and plays, How Phenomena Appear to Unfold (originally published by Potes & Poets) will be published in the fall by Litmus Press.

Her play Flow-Winged Crocodile will be performed in New York at Poets House on June 19th at 2pm and June 20th at 7pm by the performance group The Relationship, directed by Fiona Templeton and with Katie Brown, Stephanie Silver, and Julie Troost. Dance by Molissa Fenley, music by Joan Jeanrenaud, and projected drawings by Eve Biddle. This production is co-sponsored by Belladonna* and the Poetry Project.

There will be a memorial event for Scalapino at St. Mark’s Poetry Project on Monday, June 21st.

A Zen Buddhist funeral ceremony will be conducted by Abbott Norman Fisher in about a month with the arrangements in a subsequent announcement. Tom requests that in lieu of flowers, Leslie's friends consider a charitable donation in her memory to: Poets in Need, PO Box 5411, Berkeley, CA 94705; Reed College for the Leslie Scalapino Scholarship, 3203 Southeast Woodstock Boulevard, Portland, OR 97202-8199; The AYCO Charitable Foundation, PO Box 15203, Albany, NY 12212-5203 for the Leslie Scalapino-O Books Fund to support innovative works of poetry, prose and art; or to a charitable organization of their choice. Condolence cards may be sent to Tom & Leslie’s home address, 5744 Presley Way, Oakland, California 94618-1633.

to make my mind be actions outside only. which they are. that collapses in
grey-red bars. actions are life per se only without it.
(so) events are minute — even (voluptuous)


— Leslie Scalapino