2013 • 160 pages • ISBN: 978-0143123088 • $20 • Poetry
A fascinating new work from an internationally renowned poet
Acclaimed for her visionary, incantatory verse and her experimental ethos, Anne Waldman’s newest book-length poem is an allegory of a radical spirit in lockdown, dominated by “Deciders” and “Imposters” who threaten the future of poetry and its archive. A doppelganger nightmare ensues: the imposter “Anne” is a succubus, and the original Anne has to break free from a metaphorical castle of torture and psychological domination. There are travels through Vedic cosmology and ancient Japan before resolution on a treeless tundra, where fragile life forms struggle to survive. Waldman’s oracular poem is a witty meditation on identity theft and a searing plea for the primacy of imagination and for collective sanity in our provocative yet precarious time.
Of Gossamurmur, Eileen Myles writes:
In Gossamurmur Anne Waldman has written a total wow. Like the decadent 19th C. poet of Huysman’s d’Abord (Au Rebours) but in a 21st century vital and female way Anne rolls out technology, fantasy, wit, nature, passion, and luscious fields of sorted, and unsorted vague (in a good way!) and rapturous information for our temporary perusal and then with her magic stylus she flicks it away. In Gossamurmur we see a master poet in the throes of the performance of a lifetime. Anne Waldman broaches the epic wildly, gets intimate and turns it around, speaking to it directly:
“Little organ of original Anne, what can you do for us now?”
“Little eyes of original Anne, what will you accomplish now?”
Her poet is paranoid, funny, friendly, lusty and all her wide passages of poethood, personhood, and every kind of female, male, human and not human history are cinched by a streaming network of tiny lines that refresh, quake and accrue. The trembling suppleness of this poem creates a living miniature of the mythic “archive of poetry” which for Anne Waldman is the holy grail of poetry – its past present and future and the deep subject of this wildly successful poem which she defends like a fire-breathing dragon by becoming it.
Born into the Cold War’s culture of containment, Anne Waldman has steadfastly practiced and insisted on abundance and transgression. While the 9/11 Commission Report admonished us to “find a way of routinizing, even bureaucratizing the exercise of the imagination,” Waldman’s public life and work do everything possible to refute that. As Waldman continues to create new rituals for our time, the poet here must fight against identity theft and for the survival of the archive, holder of our true political and cultural memory.
— Ammiel Alcalay