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Nathaniel Mackey and the Unity of All Rites

Nathaniel Mackey and the Unity of All Rites N O R M A N F I N K E L S T E I N Shamanism is like a theatrical performance in which one actor plays all the roles at once. René Girard, Violence and the Sacred Tricks played with letters, little else . . . Nathaniel Mackey, Whatsaid Serif Casual readers perusing the 2006 winner of the National Book Award for poetry probably got quite a surprise when they opened Nathaniel Mackey's Splay Anthem. Their first shock would have come from the eight-page preface, an unapologetic declaration and exposition of the obsessive seriality that has possessed Mackey's poetry since he began publishing it more than twenty years ago. Bristling with neologisms and arcane references, the preface presents Mackey's entwin(n)ed sequences as a practice akin to the poetics of the Kaluli of New Guinea, a poetics that "posits poetry and music as quintessentially elegiac but also restorative, not only lamenting violated connection but aiming to reestablish connection, as if the entropy that gives rise to them is never to be given the last word" (Splay Anthem xvi). Violation and restoration, entropy and connection are precisely what readers would next encounter in the opening of Splay Anthem's http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Contemporary Literature University of Wisconsin Press

Nathaniel Mackey and the Unity of All Rites

Contemporary Literature , Volume 49 (1) – Jun 27, 2008

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Publisher
University of Wisconsin Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System
ISSN
1548-9949
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

N O R M A N F I N K E L S T E I N Shamanism is like a theatrical performance in which one actor plays all the roles at once. René Girard, Violence and the Sacred Tricks played with letters, little else . . . Nathaniel Mackey, Whatsaid Serif Casual readers perusing the 2006 winner of the National Book Award for poetry probably got quite a surprise when they opened Nathaniel Mackey's Splay Anthem. Their first shock would have come from the eight-page preface, an unapologetic declaration and exposition of the obsessive seriality that has possessed Mackey's poetry since he began publishing it more than twenty years ago. Bristling with neologisms and arcane references, the preface presents Mackey's entwin(n)ed sequences as a practice akin to the poetics of the Kaluli of New Guinea, a poetics that "posits poetry and music as quintessentially elegiac but also restorative, not only lamenting violated connection but aiming to reestablish connection, as if the entropy that gives rise to them is never to be given the last word" (Splay Anthem xvi). Violation and restoration, entropy and connection are precisely what readers would next encounter in the opening of Splay Anthem's

Journal

Contemporary LiteratureUniversity of Wisconsin Press

Published: Jun 27, 2008

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