Christine Burgin series

One of the preeminent poets of her generation, Susan Howe is known for innovative verse that crosses genres and disciplines in its theoretical underpinnings and approach to history.
The Poetry Foundation

Available May 26, 2020

Spontaneous Particulars

Nonfiction by Susan Howe

Great American writers — William Carlos Williams, Jonathan Edwards, Emily Dickinson, Noah Webster, Hart Crane, Wallace Stevens, Henry James —in the physicality of their archival manuscripts (reproduced here in the beautiful facsimiles)—are the presiding spirits of Spontaneous Particulars: Telepathy of Archives. Also woven into Susan Howe’s long essay are beautiful photographs of embroideries and textiles from anonymous craftspeople. The archived materials create links, discoveries, chance encounters, the visual and the acoustic shocks of rooting around amid physical archives. These are the telepathies the bibliomaniacal poet relishes. Rummaging in the archives she finds “a deposit of a future yet to come, gathered and guarded…a literal and mythical sense of life hereafter—you permit yourself liberties —in the first place—happiness.” Digital scholarship may offer much for scholars, but Susan Howe loves the materiality of research in the real archives, and Spontaneous Particulars “is a collaged swan song to the old ways.”

Editions: PaperbackClothbound

Buy from:

Paperback (published May 26, 2020)

ISBN
9780811229777
Price US
14.95

Clothbound (published October 14, 2014)

ISBN
9780811223751
Page Count
64

Susan Howe

American poet and essayist

One of the preeminent poets of her generation, Susan Howe is known for innovative verse that crosses genres and disciplines in its theoretical underpinnings and approach to history.
The Poetry Foundation
Susan Howe has often referred to herself as a ‘library cormorant’ but her extraordinary telepathy of archives is the very opposite of passive absorption: each page constructs its own ghostly skein to be woven into what becomes an increasingly mysterious figure in the carpet. What begins as an archival study becomes nothing less than mesmerism.
—Majorie Perloff
Memorably fierce: with her long career in the view today, her comment on Dickinson, in 1985, applies to Howe herself: ‘A great poet, carrying the antique imagination of her fathers, requires of each reader to leap from a place of certain signification, to a new situation, undiscovered and sovereign. She carries intelligence of the past into future of our thought by reverence and revolt.’
—Langdon Hammer, The New York Review of Books
A near-mystical account of a subject researching and reveling in the sanctuary of the library, alongside the forceful expression of a modernist will, one collecting the detritus of effaced histories to construct a shimmering new plane of knowledge and engagement.
The Brooklyn Rail
As they evolve, electronic technologies are radically transforming the way we read, write, and remember. The nature of archival research is in flux….While I realize that these technologies offer new and often thrilling possibilities for artists and scholars, ​Spontaneous Particulars: The Telepathy of Archives ​is a collaged swan song to the old ways.
—Susan Howe
Susan Howe has often referred to herself as a “library cormorant” but in this gorgeously produced book, her extraordinary telepathy of archives is the very opposite of passive absorption. Hers is a carefully constructed textile world, where the spirit of Keats’ “Ode to a Nightingale” enters Henry James’ Milly Theale, a world where William Carlos Williams’s prescription blanks oddly echo the fragments of Emily Dickinson, and where Charles Sanders Peirce’s “blue” doodles open up the charged lexicon of Jonathan Edwards. Howe knows that text never reflects or merely matches image; each page constructs its own ghostly skein to be woven into what becomes an increasingly mysterious figure in the carpet. What begins as archival study becomes nothing less than mesmerism.
—Marjorie Perloff
Howe unlocks.
—Ben Lerner
A haunter of archives, for whom manuscripts and marginalia and indexes are muses, Susan Howe often works with the materials she finds there. The result may be a textual collage or a ground-breaking work of criticism, or both.
The Paris Review