History a sequence of windows. History the wall from which I cut this rectangle.
Envelope. File folder. Durable materials of containment.
Rolling a slab, the linen that sandwiches the clay imprints. Book cloth, a certain
touch. She talked about the weight of special.
Write forty-five fifteen-line poems while teaching this spring. Influence: Jackson Mac
Low’s 154 Forties. To counter an over-abundance of electricity.
I amass three paragraphs during fourteen minutes. The wildness of production:
unbounded time—then to boil the work down—I wait for Saturday. Revision, a
Sabbath, suspension without anxiety.
The mist and mourning. Why? Who? This morning was sixty degrees and so a dense
fog came in. The compression of a sequence totaling twenty-one, moving density
through. Little feet. A spine.
To write on strips. “An ancient linen book.” Sacred or city records. Twelve bands
covering the dead and containing fifteen hundred words, unwrapped in order to
read. “Counter-modern strains persist.”
Strips of time. The poet who privileges writing over preparations for teaching. Is
gender. Whose affective labor intensifies. So that the two are not separate, teaching
A book in the bones is everyone’s. Engraved on a rib or her paper wrapped around.
I turn and walk an arc into the classroom.
Upon bark, letters. Long strips of bamboo, welded together by beating, then folded
as an accordion between wooden covers. To look cruelty square in the face and
A pronounced clap marks the end of a book with wooden covers. After reading the
daily meditation, my father would snap the book shut and we would laugh. To
loosen up the reverence: “That’s all folks.”
Watching the pipe organ’s flaps open in the front of the tabernacle. I sit next to my
grandmother. Unstruck sound: expecting the volume that will shake our seats.
Stacks of paper tied up. On the floor, against a wall. Banishment or rescued: placed
inside each box. Influence: James Castle’s bundles, soaked. The paper conforms to
the pressure of the twine. Recopied and arranged texts he read though he did not
“The trunk or stem of a tree.” A set of tablets. “A stand of birch.” “By turns she lays
her tablets down and takes them up again.” Moonlight. Peeling.
The Egyptian word “s-sh” means writing and drawing. A graffiti artist writes. In
Hebrew to write is also to incise. The pictorial inside every inscription; inscription
inside every picture. No classical divide, purity.
I disagree with his idea that real history is written and I say so. What is the meaning
of a box? She said, “sarcophagi.” The trailing imprint of my surname.
Upon filling, bury the boxes. The window will become a valve for roots and worms.
A set of boxes in waxy white, flat blue, and the green of tarnished copper. A glaze is
unseen until fired.
According to one medical papyrus, eggshells should be ground up and applied to a
skull fracture. According to the manual on bookbinding, to repair a torn leaf you
A giant woman luxuriates in a giant bath known as the Baltic Sea, balancing an egg
on her knee for the fun of it. The egg falls off, breaks, and the scattered shells form
Clay has memory, so as my slabs turned leather-hard and I worked fast to assemble
the boxes, the places that would not quite connect—though I pushed them together
again and again—pulled apart during firing. Light slivers through my mitered edges.
We talked about intention today.
Plume and Scroll:
A book whose width is limited by the length of the strips of pith. The papyrus plant
is topped off with a plume. Pen, feather. Scroll: virtual space contains the ancient.
“where intensities proliferate” “becomings of the earth couple with the becomings of
life” “sensitive mass of nerves” “to render time sensational” “of excessive and
useless production” “one contraction and the other dilation”
A reader opens and pulls out the text: dilation. Clay contracts up to thirty percent in
the heat. As moisture vacates, the paper must fit this space.
Alone stood “silent” and “cold.” Night “an azure net” and I see dreams as knots and
remain bewildered by the expanse of the holes between.
Should I leave the boxes along my way for someone else? No. The boxes want to be
inside, tender, yes. Sometimes I tell you.
I read his “fast-approaching horizon” and I understood my boxes to be the opposite
of this and so related. To set the boxes on a scroll of linen, stitched with partial
words from this notebook. “Invisibility is another way to be absorbed.” Object upon
the horizontal. I think about invisibility and absorption between claps of winter
thunder and realize nothing.
These writings and images document the beginnings of a project of procedural writing to be contained, eventually, inside clay boxes I made this past December and January. The handwritten fragments are from my teaching and studio notebooks, and the linen pieces are from a substrate I am preparing to embroider. These elements will come together in “A Book is A-Round,” an installation at Counterpath in Denver this coming June.
In the Pure Block of the Whole Imaginary by Richard Meier; “Cruel Hope” by Bei Dao in The August Sleepwalker; “Fog” by Carl Sandburg; The Book Before Printing: Ancient, Medieval and Oriental by David Diringer; Chaos, Territory, Art: Deleuze and the Framing of the Earth by Elizabeth Grosz; James Castle BOOKS published by the Lawrence Markey Gallery; conversations with Sarah Tarkany, Meg Forajter, Samantha Schaefer, and MFA students at Columbia College and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Jill Magi works in text, image, and textile and is the author of LABOR (forthcoming from Nightboat), SLOT (Ugly Duckling Presse), Cadastral Map (Shearsman), Torchwood (Shearsman), Threads (Futurepoem), the chapbooks Die for love/furlough, Poetry Barn Barn!, Confidence and Autonomy, and numerous handmade books. Recent work has appeared in Drunken Boat, The Michigan Quarterly Review, Common-place: Journal of the American Antiquarian Society, and is forthcoming in Rattapallax. Her visual works have been exhibited at the Brooklyn Arts Council Gallery, apexart, AC Institute, and Pace University. She was a Textile Arts Center resident, a writer-in-residence with the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and an arts grant recipient from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs. Jill teaches at Goddard College, Columbia College Chicago, and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
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