Week Five: Renee Angle
1. Tell about a book that you have loved for at least a decade.
I think I am too young to have loved a book for at least a decade. I’m currently on the hunt for books in which part of the reading experience ends up being a lucid dream. I don’t have lucid dreams much, but when I do the dreams are picture-less, and are comprised of some kind of extended conversation with the text. I’ve only had this happen with two books: Dan Beachy-Quick’s Mulberry and Lisa Jarnot’s Ring of Fire. Though I like these books a good deal, they aren’t ones I have extended relationships with in my waking life. Ten years from now, I hope Moby Dick is still a part of my waking and dreaming life.
2. What circumstances are most conducive to your creative work?
Marathon running. See below.
3. What is the biggest myth about being a writer? Something you’ve unlearned through your work.
I was always taught that you should never wait for inspiration, that you should always make opportunity/time for it in your life. But, I have always done my best writing (or had the most fun) while doing other things, like composing in my head while running or very quick sessions on my lunch break. I am not necessarily seeking out inspiration. And, often I won’t write for extended periods of time. I’m interested in poets who have given up poetry in one way or another throughout history: Laura (Riding) Jackson, George Oppen, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Arthur Rimbaud, Coleridge. All the writers listed above write with a violence, force, and relentlessness that make such silences great reprieves and at times great despairs. I’ve come to understand that silence is the most important part of writing for me.
4. What is the writer’s responsibility — in relation to the world, the current
state of events? How do you experience the daily news? Does this process enter your writing?
I don’t know the answer to this question. But I do think irresponsibility is an overlooked opportunity for artists. Which is to say, I’m really only interested in approaching these kinds of questions indirectly. I wonder how much “responsibility” is linked to notions of the afterlife. I wonder how much “responsibility” we can really articulate without falling into the genre of manifesto. I’m hungry for writers that do rather than say. I’m looking for doggedness, not authenticity, not honesty, not responsibility, and certainly not salvation.
5. Talk about the role of place in your work. Or, where are you, when you are working (physically, mentally, etc). What is your residence of word-ing?
I hate traveling distances greater than 10 miles unless on foot. When I’m writing, I’m usually at home or within 10 miles from home.
6. What questions would you like to explore through your work at the moment? Talk about a work in process, or your most recent work.
I have another found lyric essay called "Favor". It is an inquiry into the lexicon and etymology of “suicide” and takes as one of its models John Donne’s "Biathanatos", an essay on suicide published posthumously (and against Donne’s wishes). Tropes, syllogisms, and the fugue form are things I’m playing with here; however, I wrote very little of the text. I think of all my poems as BORGs (if you know the Star Trek allusion) or half-humans-half-machines because they often utilize large amounts of found text or exist as a result of common software program functions. Through the use of these techniques, I seek to undermine the authorship of a text. I’m not a computer programmer, if I was I’d create a robot. I discovered the easiest, low-fi way for me to play with issues of authorship, agency, and authority is to use found text. These fragments have a haunted, reverberating vocal quality that I love to manipulate. I keep vigil by the idea of the work unwritten.
7. On method, provide a writing assignment, tactic or process that you’ve found useful.
Sentence diagramming, sort and summary functions in Word, spellcheck, Alta Vista translator, typewriters, and graph paper.
9. What is the most pleasurable aspect of your writing life?
At the moment, it’s not writing.
Introduction to Renee Angle’s reading
Renée Angle, is the University of Arizona Poetry Center’s Program Coordinator. She holds an MFA from George Mason University, where she was editor of the journal So to Speak. She taught at Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth, Kore Press Literary Activism Classes, and for a charter school in South Tucson. Her poems have appeared in Practice: New Writing + Art , Diagram, and The Sonora Review.
In her manuscript “WoO”, Angle explores the history and legacy of Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon religion, in a manner never previously attempted.
She creates a faux encyclopedic view, complete with illustrations and bifurcated text
"a word. my word. our word. thy word. your word. his word. her word. their word."
In other words, varying perspectives are taken. Riffs on the power of the word, whose is the word, whose word against whose? To whom does “the word” belong? Possession history, and authorial vision are central to this unveiling or excavation.
Reading Angle’s “WoO”, I have the sense that I’m trying to read or decode another language. English with baubles, a different dialect, or a secret membrane has been placed atop words I once thought I knew. It’s like looking through a peep hole into a world which completely baffles. We get a whiff or an inkling and then are left to drift, within her adept prose. Who is wooing who?
We are given instructions, we are told where to go, historically speaking to follow this scavenger history lesson
“You, the aspiring detective and psychic investigator, caught off guard (which, even to the acute visual organs of heavenly beings, may appear only as a small lucid speck in the sky”
I can’t say enough good about Angle’s work, except to say, it is your duty, dear listener to bring the overly modest talents of this writer to light.
Angle’s prose presents a dense and tangled landscape and a rare concrete complexity which is at once vivid and abstract, lush with psychological composure and ruin, with doubt and the formative potential of faith.
The text is flanked with line drawings, diagrams, and tonal omnipotence at once convincing and determined to erupt itself. The text requires one to penetrate beyond the surface, which lies ironically placid, as if clasping within its covers the uncontainable. Here borders admire breech. History is a form of question and reproach. The codifiable is a lesson in undoing.
Reading "WoO" is like becoming an initiate into the world where as she writes “farce, farce, farce farce farce” and “belief is a cramp”.
Listeners beware, this is a book with which to reckon. A long awaited symphony of elegantly culled woes.
Renee Angle reading at The Drawing Studio, Tucson, Feb 2009