By Amanda [Ngoho] Reavey
Holding an excerpt from my current manuscript, I walked into the James Harris Gallery shaking. In agreeing to write this review of Marginalia: Jack Kerouac School Community Reading, an offsite event during the Association of Writers & Writing Programs Conference in Seattle, I did not take into account that by also participating in it, I would be nervous.
Thus, this review is more like a collection of fragments. However, perhaps it is fitting. Immediately entering the gallery, one discovers a solo exhibition by Gary Hill titled “ALOIDIA PIORM.” Interested in language and its relationship to the body, Hill presents hundreds of glass shards that correspond to a name. What is the relationship between text and image? How can we make language visceral, and felt, in the body?
I feel like all of the participating writers–faculty, staff, and current MFA students at Naropa University*–explore these questions in different ways. From Jenifer Dorsey’s exploration of home, a childhood marked by movement (20 houses, 11 cities, 7 states) to Chris Pusateri’s The Liberties, a somatic experiment in which he went to all of the 277 of the tube in London to write under the CCTV surveillance. What does it mean to move in specific surroundings? “No more groundedness,” says Ariella Ruth. “No one wants a metaphor. They want a straight sentence without edges,” says Michelle Naka Pierce.
And yet, the body, the writers’ words, are like Hill’s shattered glass exhibited on the table: sharp, peripheral, and, as Ariella Ruth says later in her work: “all water, all color. cleansing.” It is echoed in Andrea Rexilius’ reading from Half of What They Carried Flew Away. What is the relationship between body and territory?
Anne Waldman’s work took the question further: what does it mean to witness? What is a body surrounded by “non-human architecture?” How do we express what we’ve witnessed? Waldman states, “we struggle for syntax.”
* Participants in the Marginalia reading are as follows:
Michelle Naka Pierce
Amanda [Ngoho] Reavey
Sarah Richards Graba
A jungle crow born in the Philippines, Amanda [Ngoho] Reavey has lived and traveled throughout US, the UK, and Europe. She is a MFA candidate at the Jack Kerouac School at Naropa University currently working on her thesis, which explores architecture, language, and the immigrant body. Also, she is the founder and co-editor of Unpublished Narratives, a social justice themed investigative poetics journal, and blogs at Space Inside Borderline.