The Next Big Thing: Rachel Blau DuPlessis

Rachel_2-05Rachel Blau DuPlessis was tagged by Jennifer K. Dick to play the poetry-game that is The Next Big Thing  & answered questions about Surge, coming this spring from Salt Publishing.

What is the working title of the book?

The title of this book is Surge: Drafts 96-114. In the series of titles for the books, it’s Toll, Pledge/Précis, Torques, Pitch, Surge. Plus the two visual poems: The Collage Poems of Drafts.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

This book is the apparently “last” but not “final” book of Drafts–a long poem in individual cantos. I’m not sure what that observation will mean in practice, but that’s the way I’ve said it. The idea for Drafts came to me more than two decades ago as a conjuncture of forces and materials and–again–the intense “hit” of the over-arching title, talking about provisionality and solidity at the same time. Drafts is like one self-different poem being written over and over in the same spot—this is my ultimate metaphor for it. There is no narrative, no plot outline, and in terms of seriality (building an argument inferentially, by leaps and movement)—it works only in the most general way. It is not about a personal story, or an expressivist narrative of realizations. It’s a series of explorations into the world and into  the “it” of everything. The scale change from the little dot of “I” to the magnitude of “it” is what interests me.

Drafts has been a tremendous experience and commitment for me for 26 years. The notion of a “last” book is as unstable as the word “draft.” In a Steinian possibility–ending is also beginning. I have been writing some other things this year that seem to be growing from Drafts as a concept.

What genre does your book fall under?

Poetry–in an expanded sense.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Answer 1) Gosh–since I don’t have characters, I can’t even begin to think of this. I mean, I could snark it up to answer, but why bother.

Answer 2) There’s no “movie” here but there IS a lot of montage. Maybe the two characters are IS and IT, and we all “play” them every day.

Answer 3) You know that over the years, I’ve talking or talked back to a number of poems and poets in Drafts. In Surge, there are works that explicitly evoke the following people: Blaser, Dante, Duchamp, Eliot.  So those folks are, briefly, shadow “characters” here, or maybe they are allusions or traditions–well, what can I say!

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Every one of these “last” nineteen poems in Surge is in a double mode: each has some aspect of doubleness—a gloss, a commentary, substitute words, italic shadows.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

The nineteen poems in this manuscript are dated between 2008 and 2012. So that’s four years. Otherwise–the answer is “a lifetime to date.”

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

The vow I made to the on-goingness of this poem to reach 114 / 115 full scale works; the grid or net of relationships among the poems; the mysteries of provisionality; the sense of the world as such–political, existential, and ontological.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

People’s curiosity about the nature and outcomes of this project. You can begin anywhere and read in any direction.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Salt Publishing  will be publishing this book soon, in April or May 2013. The cover is a collage by me.

My tagged writers for next Wednesday are:

Beverly Dahlen

Jena Osman

Erín Moure

Hank Lazer

Brian Teare

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