Home > Mutating the Signature > Giver of Givens

Giver of Givens

January 27, 2009

No longer am I drawn to speak in simple diagrams
as my father’s notebooks travel with me to the endpoints
of a tangle he labeled every operation and eased
with friendly question every knot pretty much
in line with the finish which appears to travel westward
to the wilds of theory where phrases like rotations are simply turns
last modified momentarily by brilliant sun on new snow:
he said years of flying in the far north
gave him a touch of snowblindness
and something else he kept back
as he traveled westward in his small plane
through the wilds and toward evening.

by K. Alma Peterson and Kathleen Jesme

Download the MP3 (reading by K. Alma Peterson)

Process notes

We decided to try this collaboration because we are both sound-oriented poets, and we wanted to try a dialog in which we listened to each other and let the sound lead us. We each started a thread, and responded to each other’s additions on a daily basis, each adding a new thread each day. Eventually, we were responding to six threads every day. We kept this going for two weeks. It was a madhouse! There was no time to evaluate what we were writing — the idea was to push ourselves to produce a large body of material. Then we got together and read everything, and picked out threads and sequences we liked. We did more work on them, mostly editing, and arrived at the three collaborative poetic dialogs that we are submitting to Qarrtsiluni. (Look for the other two dialogs in the coming weeks. —Eds.)

  1. January 27, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    That is just a wonderful, resonant poem. It has such integrity it’s a little hard to imagine it’s a collaboration. I particularly like
    ‘in line with the finish which appears to travel westward
    to the wilds of theory where phrases like rotations are simply turns
    last modified momentarily by brilliant sun on new snow:’

    Looking forward to the next two…

  2. January 27, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    yes, it is hard to capture poetically the straight lines and limitations of our “theories.” as if somehow putting it in a diagram makes it even more true. I struggle with that every day. So thank you for this poem, especially the lines:
    to the wilds of theory where phrases like rotations are simply turns
    last modified momentarily by brilliant sun on new snow

    beautiful reminder

  3. January 28, 2009 at 10:30 am

    Beautiful poem, resonant and provocative!

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