Room 963, Schermerhorn Extension, Columbia University
Franz Boas Seminar delivered by Professor Kathleen Stewart of the University of Texas, Austin.
“Every achieved poem inscribes a perceptual signature in the world.” Mark Doty, The Art of Description, 21
All the world’s a poem and poems are in every sense real, etching lines of action and mood across the sensations, vibrations, movements, and intensities that comprise both experience and states of matter. But poems have to be achieved; they’re compositions at work in the everyday. Here I trace the compositional qualities of some matter poems: a New Hampshire comprised of walks, a school assembly, New England Red. In all such moments, something throws itself together. A tendency, an icon, a color, a groove of habit or hope, or a rhythm or chaos of living becomes legible. This ordinary artfulness calls for new forms of critique—a vitalist critique to bring things to life, a slow critique to watch grass grow, a basic practice of curiosity and experimentation, a critique faced with an overabundance of things to be known, described or imagined.