“Words say too much to let you know the truth.’’ George Quasha’s torqued, enigmatic preverbs create unlikely balances among discrepant engagements. The vectors of these marvelous poems work at cross purposes, keeping each other aloft. These are sparkling aphoristic aporias for a new age in an old time. “Poetry,” says Quasha, “resists immortality with difficulty.” And also with wit and charm. Be here now, in which case immortality will take care of itself. —Charles Bernstein
Preverbs are not so much assertions as events. Read on the page or, better yet, spoken, each of Quasha’s lines is an occasion for becoming aware of meaning in the making. Releasing words from semantic routine, reinventing syntax on the fly, the preverbs provide us with endless opportunities to entangle ourselves in ambiguity and seeming contradiction. As they bring us to the verge of unintelligibility, entanglement becomes an embrace and we generate new powerful meanings—not once for all but in a succession of instants that carry us from line to line, page to page, precipitating us into an expansive, endlessly renewable present. —Carter Ratcliff
Ludic, glittering dialectic, that’s the true feeling of the ongoing dance in preverbs. The lines are all children, bright and witty children, egging each other on to say fast as they can what they don’t yet know. And we can know only by listening to them tussle. It’s the antiphonal give-and-take that makes these poems so different from other couplets, qasidas, dyads. They refuse to be ruled even by the form they propose. So reading them is an athletic conversation. And not just the poem with itself. What happens is that as I read along, I begin to talk back–in accord or grumblement—with some brave line, only to find a line or two later the poem answering my comment. The poem gets there before me. I like that. —Robert Kelly
George Quasha is a poet, artist, writer, and musician working to explore certain principles active across mediums, including language, sculpture, drawing, video, sound, and performance. His work has been exhibited in galleries and museums, including the Baumgartner Gallery (New York), Slought Foundation (Philadelphia), the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art (SUNY New Paltz), the Snite Museum of Art (Notre Dame). His published work includes twelve books of poems, most recently Glossodelia Attract (preverbs) (Station Hill, 2015) and The Daimon of the Moment (preverbs) (Talisman House, 2015); six books of writing on art, including Axial Stones: An Art of Precarious Balance (North Atlantic Books, 2006), and four anthologies, including America a Prophecy (Random House, 1973/Station Hill, 2014, with Jerome Rothenberg). He performs axial music solo and in collaboration with Charles Stein, David Arner, John Beaulieu, and Gary Hill. For his video project art is/poetry is/music is he has recorded over a thousand artists, poets and musicians in eleven countries. Awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship in video art and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in poetry. He lives with Susan Quasha in Barrytown, New York, where they publish books at Station Hill Press. Continuing work appears at www.quasha.com.
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