Friday, April 24, 2015

Sorting Facts; or, Nineteen Ways of Looking at Marker by Susan Howe (1996, 2013)

Sorting Facts; or, Nineteen Ways of Looking at Marker
Susan Howe
New Directions Poetry Pamphlet #1
(c)1996, 2013

New Directions made poetry pamphlets? I didn't know. Of course, this isn't one. Not really. It's an essay about the films of the French director Chris Marker. One of his films was reimagined by Terry Gilliam as the 12 Monkeys. This essay was written BY a poet, a poet whose work has been published by New Direction fairly often and whom I admire greatly, Susan Howe. But it's not a collection of poetry although the language is lucid enough to pass as poetry.

63 page, staple-bound chapbook. Using Marker's two critically acclaimed films, Le Jetee and Sans Soleil as her baselines, Howe weaves a mental tapestry as only she could. It's excellent writing. The production of this item, as a chapbook, is more in the "shrug-who-cares" category (if such a title existed). After all, New Directions did not start as a chapbook publisher so the finer points are missing here. But since the substance is what is important here, I am willing to overlook the generic presentation. But only this once. (Did I mention I am a big Susan Howe fan?)

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