Enthusiasm, Telepathy, and Immediacy
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In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Howe was a visual artist, working with installations that combined text and photographs.1 Hinge Picture, her first book of poetry, was published in 1974 by Maureen Owen’s Telephone Books. It has as its epigraph a quotation from Marcel Duchamp, an artist she continues to cite in interviews:2 “Perhaps makes a HINGE PICTURE. (folding yardstick, book….) develop in space the PRINCIPLE OF THE HINGE in the displacements 1st in the plane 2nd in space”3 (HP, 32). The notion of the hinge is an early example of the taste for figures of duality that is discernible in many Howe texts. Borders, margins and dividing lines are, as we have seen, crucial to Howe’s writing. The visual aspect of the work—the look of the words on the page—is clearly important, but spatial relations are important in other ways too. Howe’s text suspends narrative in favor of webs of thematic concern. History and language are imagined spatially, with associations being made that may depend on a word’s proximity to others on the signifying chain or to distant historical or literary echoes.
KeywordsFree Association Aesthetic Experience Cultural Nationalism Existential Graph Primary Consciousness
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