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 a series of fragments & notes about chance, fate, context & intention by Dara Wier


Pulling the legs off spiders is not something anyone should be doing.  There are some things people do to poems that are that painful and damaging and useless and wrong.

I don't like to see anyone doing something like that.


I used to always like to say how a simile would be something like communion in the Episcopal Church, something like or representing or standing in for:  the body of a god. And that metaphor was communion in the Catholic Church, via transubstantiation, the literal transformation of one material into another material, in this case, the body of god. Ready to be eaten.

And I pretty much always left it at that.

Until recently when I wanted to think about how these ideas must have felt in the mind of a child.  One who believed in these things at one time.

Sitting in an oak pew, maybe 11 rows back, waiting for one's turn to go up to receive or take communion, people took communion too, but more often they received communion: along with thinking about all the scary things that went along with that, there were so many rituals to consider...........did I truly confess........was I really sorry.......was it okay for me to take communion this morning after last night........

along with the gothic gory whatever you do don't chew it

(let it dissolve, almost as if dissolving would be more like disappearing, more like seeping in, like ground water, everyone knows dissolving is better)

essentially a mechanical chemical action; less like cannibalism, which of course I thought about all the time......why wasn't it cannibalism..... or maybe......yes, it's cannibalism all right and so certain kinds of cannibalism must be more than fact sacramental


and what about what there is there is that is never intended to be described?

the something that can't be described is one thing the something that should never be described is another something that sometimes can be and sometimes can't, a little trickier

some things indescribable and undescribable (too often described, described too much, painfully described, unnecessarily described) by virtue of what they are if they were describable they could not be what they are


Maybe because all the truly huge, devastating things we do and that happen pretty much alll around

birth, falling in love, being betrayed, having children, fearing for their lives, desiring all

for them, finding resources, being rejected, damaged, treated with cruelty, (having your legs pulled off) with savage intentions

being praised, finding meaning, witnessing harm


most are all things common to us

and that, our common commonality seems to be exactly why we need to remain individuals, to treat ourselves as if we are

original (anyway, how original are we--- we are as ourselves) (when we feel that way, when felling alone say for instance is original) (how frangible)

not "the first of its kind" not the originating agent or provider or provision...........but as symbols and instances

a simulacrum, a prototype, templates......

(where one can get into a whole lot of trouble happens when one is trying too much to think that to know what someone else is thinking and feeling, in any exact kind of way is possible, that's what's dangerous, empathy is good, without it we are monsters and yet an overly active empathetic synthesizing device will overwhelm anyone's sense of self) (there's a Star Trek episode in which a woman's empathy is literal; she can lay her hands on someone's shoulders in order to absorb all their pain, anxiety, fear, terror, leaving her visibly in misery and them pain free))

(somehow how and why fiction is fiercely needed, to pretend there is and there is, at least in the book, something that is exact and true and in and of itself evidence of itself, how in the book, what's what can be all there is) (how in the book, nothing has to be held to the standards of evidential existing we encounter outside of the book)

(in the book, outside of the book)


pulling the legs off spiders will involve exactly the opposite of empathy, having negative empathy for the spider is possibly the most fascinating motive for the action (sad for the spider, sad for the poem, sad for anyone subjected to that)


Maggie Nelson in a jubilat interview, on narrowing:

Each narrowing of what contemporary poetry is supposed to do bears with it an equivalent narrowing in the definition of a human being.  --Douglas Oliver

I stand in fervent opposition to such narrowing. - Maggie Nelson


empathy requires glancing away beyond conformity

what if you're supposed to deal with someone who has an inclination

to impose conformity

for its own sake (or for the sake of a very private kind of peace of mind)


Iceland: Where one in 10 people will publish a book

By Rosie Goldsmith BBC News, Reykjavik


Iceland is experiencing a book boom. This island nation of just over 300,000 people has more writers, more books published and more books read, per head, than anywhere else in the world.

There is a phrase in Icelandic, "ad ganga med bok I maganum", everyone gives birth to a book. Literally, everyone "has a book in their stomach". One in 10 Icelanders will publish one.

"Does it get rather competitive?" I ask the young novelist, Kristin Eirikskdottir. "Yes. Especially as I live with my mother and partner, who are also full-time writers. But we try to publish in alternate years so we do not compete too much."


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Dara Wier is the author of twelve books of poetry, including Selected Poems, Remnants of Hannah, Reverse Rapture, and You Good Thing (now available from Wave Books). She teaches in the University of Massachusetts MFA Program for Poets and Writers. Her awards include the Poetry Center and Archives Book of the Year Award, a Pushcart Prize, the American Poetry Review’s Jerome Shestack Prize, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. She edits Factory Hollow Press. Visit her author page at Wave Books or read an interview.