Archives of Loss: David Antin, Susan Howe, Vanessa Place
Through considerations about poetic work, from three very different authors, David Antin, Susan
Howe and Vanessa Place, the article reconsiders the significance of the archive in contemporary
Archival preoccupation signals a concern with the present, and its flitting quality: the modes of
improvisation in Antin thus offer formal options for a recording of the present as the locus of loss. In
Howe, the archival impulse seems to stem from a desire to rewrite history and put forward the issues
of historiography: manuscript material from intractable archives generates poetic constructions that
become archival material in turn: chaotic typographies evidence what is lost in archivization, rather
than focus on what is preserved. Archival gestures might eventually emerge as part of our (lost) fight
against radical loss and death: Place’s expansive work on documenting death and the morbidity of
social practices is nodal, reaching a paroxystic dimension in Last Words, a project centered on the
death penalty, and the electronic archive of the last words of the executed inmates of Texas.
In the dialectics outlined by the works of these three poets, the paradox of the archive unfolds as it
grows exponentially while remaining incomplete and defective, a sign of the fault in the dialectics of
“archive fever” as it inexorably fails to counter our mortal condition.
Agamben, Giorgio. Remnants of Auschwitz: The Witness and the Archive. New York: Zone Books, 2002.
Aji, Hélène. “‘I [will not] Gather the Limbs of Osiris’: Susan Howe’s Transcendent History.” Jacket 40
(January 2011). http://jacketmagazine.com/40/howe-s-aji.shtml. Last visited 18/10/2019.
---. “The Continuous Present: A Note about David Antin’s Selected Essays.” Golden Handcuffs 1.15
(Summer-Fall 2012): 158-168
Antin, David and Charles Bernstein. A Conversation with David Antin. New York: Granary Books, 2002.
---. i never knew what time it was. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005.
---. radical coherency, selected essays on art and literature 1966 to 2005. Chicago: University of Chicago
---. what it means to be avant-garde. New York: New Directions, 1993.
Arendt, Hannah. “Walter Benjamin: 1892-1940.” Walter Benjamin. Illuminations: Essays and Reflections.
New York: Schocken Books, 1969. 1-55.
Back, Rachel Tzvia. Led by Language: The Poetry and Poetics of Susan Howe. Tuscaloosa: University of
Alabama Press, 2002.
Benjamin, Walter. Images de pensée. Paris: Christian Bourgois, 1998.
---. The Arcades Project. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999.
Darras, Jacques, ed. Poésie américaine 1950-2000 (In’Hui 56-57). Bruxelles: Le Cri, 2002.
Derrida, Jacques. “Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression.” Diacritics 25.2 (1995): 9-63.
Howe, Susan. Frame Structures (Early Poems 1974-1979). New York: New Directions, 1996.
---. My Emily Dickinson. New York: New Directions, 2007.
---. Singularities. Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, 1990.
---. The Birth-mark: Unsettling the Wilderness in American Literary History. Hanover: Wesleyan University
Leibovici, Franck. Des documents poétiques. Marseille : Al Dante, 2007.
Ma, Ming-Qian. “Poetry as History Revised: Susan Howe’s ‘Scattering as Behavior Toward Risk’.” American
Literary History 6.4 (1994): 716-737.
Nicholls, Peter. “‘The Pastness of Landscape’: Susan Howe’s ‘Pierce-Arrow’.” Contemporary Literature 43.3
---. “Unsettling the Wilderness: Susan Howe and American History.” Contemporary Literature 37.4 (1996):
Perloff, Marjorie. “‘Collision or Collusion with History’: The Narrative Lyric of Susan Howe.” Contemporary
Literature 30.4 (1989): 518-533.
---. “Language Poetry and the Lyric Subject: Ron Silliman’s Albany, Susan Howe’s Buffalo.” Critical Inquiry
25.3 (1999): 405-434.
Place, Vanessa and Robert Fitterman. Notes on Conceptualisms. New York: Ugly Duckling Presse, 2009.
Place, Vanessa. Dies: A Sentence. Los Angeles: Les Figues Press, 2005.
---. La Medusa. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2008.---. Last Words. Paris: Dis Voir, 2015.
---. The Guilt Project: Rape, Morality, and Law. New York: Other Press, 2010.
---. Tragodía 1: Statement of Facts. Los Angeles: Blanc Press, 2010.
Ricœur, Paul. Memory, History, Forgetting. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2004.
Stein, Gertrude. Everybody’s Autobiography. New York: Random House, 1937.
Walter Benjamin, Archives. Paris, Musée d’art et d’histoire du judaïsme-Klincksieck, 2011.
Williams, Megan. “Howe Not to Erase(Her): A Poetics of Posterity in Susan Howe’s ‘Melville’s Marginalia’.”
Contemporary Literature 38.1 (1997): 106-132.
Copyright (c) 2020 Hélène Aji
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.Iperstoria is an Open Access journal.
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 BY-NC License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of their work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal. We require authors to inform us of any instances of re-publication.