06 March 2008

The Blank Page Is Not Blank

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But it is not true that "nothing is given": Language comes not only with an infinite potential for new combinations, but with a long history contained in it.

The blank page is not blank. No text has one single author. Whether we are conscious of it or not, we always write on top of a palimpsest (cf. Duncan's "grand collage").

This is not a question of linear "influence," but of writing as dialog with a whole net of previous and concurrent texts, tradition, with the culture and language we breathe and move in, which conditions us even while we help to construct it.

Many of us have foregrounded this awareness as technique: using, collaging, transforming, "translating" parts of other works.
~ Rosmarie Waldrop, "Palimpsest," from "Thinking of Follows," in Onward: Contemporary Poetry and Poetics

Rosmarie Waldrop at the Electronic Poetry Center

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Photos by Helquin.

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