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INTRODUCTION
INTRODUCTION
INTRODUCTION

Juliana Spahr


I go to a reading by Jordan and Lee Ann.
Jordan says "One step from Manhattan and there's / Nothing"
I find myself strangely not bothered by this statement.
As I leave I wonder what is a New York poet?
It seems to be about narrative
(Lisa keeps calling for more I-did-this-and-then-I-did-that-poems
          like in the old days)
but many poets in New York write with a phrasal economy
(and in fact that seems the more common voice now).
Then I think why can't I be some sort of New York poet?
I no longer take offense to NY-centric statements.
I pay New York rent.
I negotiate dirty New York streets.
I push and get pushed into New York subways everyday.
On my way home from the reading
I walk in the right direction.
This I think means I might be ready to be a New York poet.
I am beginning to know my way around.
Just as now I am writing a narrative poem.
But because of my nineteen years in the midwest
often I have to remind myself that I am lost in the center called
        nothing
and this makes my relation to the periphery unclear.
When I arrive home a friend calls and says I have taken too much
        cocaine.
While I wait in the emergency room
I wonder what personism's claim to being so totally opposed to
        abstract removal that it is verging on a true abstraction for the
        first time can tell me now as I struggle with this moment.
I try to explain to the nurse who calls me in for a consultation my
        culture and its relation to drugs.
I want to mention the New York poets and a poet's mind shaping
        and reshaping with each new drug
and another poet's words in all different tenses and cases.
I want to bring in anybody who says anything about transforma-
        tion.
I want to say,
        it is hard right now for us to find our feet
I want to say,
        there is so much drug it falls out of people's pockets and we
        pick it up.
I want to say,
        we once were young and drugs seemed necessary,
        whereas it is now youth that seems necessary.
But I don't. I just take the pamphlets and leave.
But I still can't speak and find the mode of articulation troubling.
What I want to say somehow is that the world at 7AM that morning
        looked like the moon and I felt lost and alone in it with no
        one available to call; no words to use as an example.
There are moments I realize where sentiment makes sense.
I say this out loud instead.
No one is really listening.



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