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Photo by Francesca Woodman

Photo by Francesca Woodman



Well, here we are at the conclusion of a wonderful na·po·mo at the dictionary project! I’m grateful that poetry gets its own month and also grateful that we can continue to read and support poets, to write and share our own poetry all year. I want to thank all of our wonderful poets for the work they have written and shared with us and special thanks goes to our last poet, Danielle Vogel. 

And in the first time in the history of this literary community, a word was bibliomanced for the second time. I guess this is appropriate because it is a word we probably all need to be reminded of from time to time. The word is surrender. Those of you who have been regular followers of the dictionary project will remember that I first wrote about surrender in the fall in relationship to an Amy Goodman reading I attended. I am delighted to share with you Danielle’s gorgeous and evocative take on the word. Thanks go to Danielle for providing the image as well.

And thanks to you, today and always, for reading and being part of this process.


sur·ren·der (səˈrendər)v.t. [OFr. surrendre: sur-, upon, up + rendre, to render], 1.  to give up possession of or power over; yild to another on demand or compulsion.  2.  to give up claim to; give over or yield, especially voluntarily, as in favor of another.  3.  to give up or abandon; as, we surrendered all hope.  4.  to yield or resign (oneself) to an emotion, influence, etc.  5.  [Obs.], to give back or in return.  v.i.  to give oneself up to yield.  n.  [Anglo-Fr.  < OFr.  surrendre (see the v.); inf. used as n.],  1.  the act of surrendering, yielding, or giving up.  2.  in insurance, the voluntary abandonment of a policty by an insured person in return for a cash payment (surrender value), thus freeing the company of liability.
SYN.–surrender commonly implies the giving up of something completely after striving to keep it (to surrender a fort, one’s freedom, etc.); relinquish is the general word implying an abandoning, giving up, or letting go of something held (to relinquish one’s grasp, a claim, etc.); to yield is to concede or give way under pressure (to yield one’s consent); to submit is to give in to authority or superior force (to submit to a conqueror); resign implies a voluntary, formal relinquishment and, used reflexively, connotes submission or passive acceptance (to resign an office, to resign oneself to failure).




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Vogel, Dictionary Project author photoDanielle Vogel’s textile scroll-works and ceramic book artifacts, which explore the ceremonial gestation of a manuscript as it is written, have been exhibited in galleries across the country. Her most recent collection, Narrative & Nest, is a cross-disciplinary study relating the construction of nests to the writing of books — both as complex sites of composition, habitation, instinct, and narrative. She is the author of Narrative & Nest (Abecedarian Gallery, 2012) and lit (Dancing Girl Press, 2008). She received her MFA in Writing & Poetics from Naropa University, and is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Denver. She lives in Providence, Rhode Island, where she is writing toward the completion of her book Clasp, excerpted here. Her author photo was bibliomanced by Maurice Blanchot’s The Writing of the Disaster and reads: “a turning point which puts us face to face with the demand of the turning point.” Danielle wrote, ‘I often carry books alongside the books I am writing. I dip into them for messages the way one might visit the Tarot. One such book is Maurice Blanchot’s The Writing of the Disaster. While writing the middle section of Clasp, I asked Blanchot’s book to interrupt my writing practice with a message and this is what I received.”



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stri·gose  (ˈstrīˌgōs),  adj.  [Mod. L. strigosus  <  L.  striga,  a furrow],  1.  in botany, having stiff hairs or bristles, as some leaves.  2.  in zoology, having fine, close-set grooves or streaks. 3. finely grooved or furrowed.



This woman makes nests.
She said: Imagine an impossible book and body as they realize themselves.
She said: my mouth: a living altar space, a living nest.
This woman makes nests out of earth and fills them with words.
She said: I am interested in the muscle memory of the book, the logic stored beneath the sentence.
This woman makes nests that are no longer a part of the book but inseparable from the book.
She said: vessels, chambers, a gathering of something.
She said: Please climb with me into under the sentence.


This woman weaves threads.
She said: I’m working with time, with the moment, with breath, with song, with the thread.
This woman weaves threads through people.
She said: There were no people—everyone was inside. So I was weaving saguaros and lizards.
This woman weaves threads through people and earth and the spaces she moves within.
She said: What is aggressive about a thread lying on the floor?
This woman weaves threads of storysong, songstory into now.
She said: A song a woman sings from hurt is called a pulling…How can I respond except crying in a tone no one cares for?


This woman arranged a courtship.
She said: P and S are pushing at the edge of their relationship.
This woman arranged a courtship, one between the page and the screen.
She said: They share text’s fleshy network.
This woman arranged a courtship, affirming each party in what they had to offer.
She said: Pale, pole, pawl have the same root as page.
This woman arranged a courtship: one of the pair she held up to be seen, the other she sent spinning in motion.


This woman layered a landscape.
She said: So we are all caught hanging: the rope inside us, the tree inside us.
This woman layered a landscape of word and image.
She said: The hearts of my brothers are broken.
This woman layered a landscape in black and white and then blue and green and red.
She said: And you are not the guy but you fit the description. And there is only one guy who is always the guy fitting the description.
This woman layered a landscape, opaque and reflecting.
She said: It was a place to begin to look at what is seen and at perception. It’s deeper than the image and yet it is the image.


These women ask the body.
She said: If a woman in a forest recalls a woman in bed.
These women ask the body to remember, to recall, to reiterate.
She said: If a woman in bed recalls a woman driving.
These women ask the body and the body answers in a curved spine, in sitting upright, in staring out, in.
Shes said:
Are you cooking?
Are you driving?
Are you in the car?
Are you on the phone?
On where writing begins, she said: The jaw. There’s a kind of will in the jaw: it has to do with desire, maybe it has to do with speech and a desire to say something.
She said: It begins in the space in the spine, reflexive knowledge.


Author Note: I wrote this reflection over the course of attending the Poetry Off The Page Symposium at the University of Arizona Poetry Center. The women, in order of appearance, are: Danielle Vogel, Cecilia Vicuña, Amaranth Borsuk, Claudia Rankine, Julie Carr & K.J. Holmes.


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