May 30, 2012

“Love, Madness, death. The mandrake’s voice touches each and each in its time, and it should come as no surprise that the poem should do the same. Both are roots tapping the essence of esoteric inquiry.”  — Ruby Sara

I am extremely pleased to have my poem “The Shape of the Word” featured in Scarlet Imprint Press‘s anthology Mandragora, an anthology in which “its shrieks threatening madness, carved and anointed, given form and breath . . . the Word walks.”

“The Shape of the Word” was written in early 2009 on a train to southern California where I was looking for work harvesting lettuce; to some extent, I feel the verses capture the relentless motion of the train and the inveterate drive that animated my own wanderings up and down the West Coast at that time. It was artistically the best manifestation of my numerous and multifarious explorations of the notion that language is not an arbitrary set of phonemes that designate external realities only by common consent, but rather a set of phonemes that actually possess structural features derived from their referents — in other words, that the word “tree,” for instance, has something to do with the actual shape or meaning of a tree. When I returned to Portland from my failed lettuce harvesting expedition, I repeated these verses over and over again in all manner of indescribable voices while I banged on the hunks of scrap metal that littered the floor of my room, in an attempt to validate my hypothesis. Whether or not I was successful, I am proud of the poem and proud to be featured in a work such as Mandragora.

In its poems and its essays alike, Mandragora touches on and integrates numerous themes — verse in magico-religious tradition; sensual experience, delirium, and intoxication as corollaries of artistic inspiration; the inseparability of the aesthetics of an act from the utility of an act — which combine into a magical totality animated by a logic all its own.

The book may be acquired here.

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