Shopping Cart Link

Wesleyan University Press

Sign up for our newsletter

Bookmark and Share
Cart link
Paperback add to cart

For Educators
View cart
Cover image

Zither & Autobiography
Leslie Scalapino

Wesleyan Poetry Series

2003 • 120 pp. 8 illus. 5 1/2 x 8 1/2"

$15.95 Paperback, 978-0-8195-6477-1

A reflective, eclectic mixture of poetry and prose.

Zither & Autobiography is comprised of two parts: the author’s autobiography and a book-length poem entitled "Zither." Both parts of the book are concerned with facts and their undoing. In Autobiography, Scalapino explores her shifting memories of childhood—especially of years spent in Asia—experimenting with the memoir form to explore how a view of one’s own life develops, how "fixed memories move as illusion."

Zither opens with a unique narrative that the author describes as "samurai film as Classic Comic of Shakespeare’s King Lear (without using any of Shakespeare’s language, characters or plot)." Creating a complex spatial soundscape, the poem works formally to allow continual change of one’s conceptions while reading. The juxtaposition of the two parts and the connection between them is "the anarchist moment...disjunction itself," a key concept in much of Scalapino’s work. This vivid book reveals in every thought-sparking section just why Scalapino has been hailed by Library Journal as "one of the most unique and powerful writers at the forefront of American literature."

Reviews / Endorsements

"This is a radically new work, a narrative blast." —Fanny Howe, author of Indivisible and Selected Poems

"Scalapino’s work stands out as one of the most serious, innovative, and challenging undertakings in contemporary poetry. Her practice of, and reflection on, narrative are breathtaking. These two texts together (from A to Z) perform a fascinating textual acrobatics."Pierre Joris, author of Poasis

From the Book:

In memory of Dan Davidson and Alma White

Making a fictional action 'on top of' one's life's actions.
Zither is here partly 'commentary' on the autobiography (though
Zither was written first). I had a project of rewriting some Shake-
speare's play:without using his characters, language, or plot. Zither is a
rewriting of King Lear.
It is commentary on phyche and real-time by being a 'comic strip'. I
saw a girl passing me in Golden Gate Park who had beautiful arched
eyebrows like archers' bows:

The poetry and the prose are separated pairs, strands 'looking at' each
other. The prose narrative is, in its splices of characters in actions, the
comic strip: the boa dove is one character-she's being harrased by
brownshirts, a are all citizens; the Mayfly, another character, is a
minion of brownshirts. There is a girl with beautiful arched eye-
browns who frees a horse which is being beaten by a crown by riding the
horse out of the crowd.
Note: "his"-such as, 'his'-quiet or 'his'-fan-is 'the fact,' is or means
'ther is someone else' (aware 'there is someone other').

LESLIE SCALAPINO is the author of many books, including New Time (Wesleyan, 1999) and The Public World, Syntactically Impermanence (Wesleyan, 1999).

Tue, 15 May 2018 12:58:22 -0500