December 4, 2010

New York State Writers Institute -- Jena Osman, December 2

One of the few poets to read in this year's series, Jena Osman is the 2009 National Poetry Series winner for The Network published this year by Fence Books, which has its home at the Writers Institute.

Rebecca Wolff introduced the poet, describing The Network as "speculative;" the back of the book describes it as "at the intersection of conceptual and documentary poetics," which I found useful.

Jena Osman read from 2 sections of the book, "Mercury Rising (A Visualization)" & "Financial District." Both sections (in fact the entire book) contain the poet's amateur exploration of etymology, complete with errors & wrong steps. "Mercury Rising" explores/ponders the science of the element, as well as the development of the Greek & Latin gods, even incorporating both versions of the comic book super-hero, The Flash. I was also drawn to her use of the second person pronoun, wondering who is this "you" someone seems to be addressing, perhaps a middle ground between the subjective "I" & the objective "it," I wondered.

The second piece, "Financial District," is a mix of history of the NYC area, etymology & an interwoven, as she described it, "sci-fi narrative." This third part, printed in italics in the text, was what she read, which was perplexing on its own. Not sure how it connects to the financial district, though I did catch echoes to the Mercury piece in some of the images.

I bought the book so I could spend more time exploring this challenging work.

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