A Collage Meditation on Kathleen Fraser’s Poetry
Jeanne Heuving

I. Dog’s Body

In writing h i dde violeth idde violet, Kathleen Fraser hung pages around her studio so many flags so many dripping petals, stepping back to rearrange her words and letters spaced in morning light on eggshell parchment

Walking around the room one way and then reversing direction, surveying her parchment, looking closer, light from a small square window, a pitkin, parched her eye

This pane of apprehension reminiscence The all but missing Christ “’He arose!’/ ‘He arrozzz. . . ‘ / thump-(H) / a rose . . .” Missing and extra letters

“Shutter latc / h creaky. . . Furry . . . Fury . . . Aire still / brning bittr harshly”

The body of Christ as the word made flesh The fleshiness of language, cauterwauling, gobs of flesh, fistfulls, fitfl “Dog’s body cuts d i a g o n a l h e a v/ i n g l i g h t”

“There is a word in Italian, distacco, that refers to a little emotional distance that may be taken from a situation or conversation. Its meaning is recorded in the step backwards a painter makes when, having placed a mark on the canvas, she stops to observe how planes of light or color have massed and shifted as a result of that last placement of pigment. Whatever mark or brushwork may or may not follow takes its counsel from this moment of cool observation. This action and accretion, where mortal touch replaces stern inevitability. . . .”

“Writing’s material sensuousness is displaced when we attend to the sight, sound, taste, or feeling of the immaterial signified. One realm of senses gives way to another and the text as such disappears . . . when the materiality of the textual surface is flawed, wounded, or interrupted . . . we can think about it.”

The sheer absence of the body when they go to the tomb, and only the swaddling remains

“Language has multiple components, each of which has a different biological basis and must be orchestrated in very precise ways in instrumental interventions for students who are at-risk biologically for learning to read.”

“The human brain uses three neural circuits to code words . . . by their sound (phonology), by the part of words (or morphology) . . .and by their visual or written form (or their orthography.)”

A naturalizing of the denatured, violence into violet. This double structure of the split subject, enunciating and enounced, her words come back to haunt her. Subjected to words, delivered, drawn, they look back at her doubly, triply “(ears flat back) / to a littll whistll // heeling & woofing side-by-their / muzzlels at kitchen door // to side to track surface tension // anything (ears flat back) to a littll whistll.”

“Life only seemed worth living where the threshold between waking and sleeping was worn away in everyone as by the multitudinous images flooding back and forth, language only seemed itself where sound and image, image and sound interpenetrated with automatic precision and such felicity that no chink was left of the penny-in-the-slot called meaning.”

“The night after you left for Paros, I dreamt I was lying on a stone slab at the base of the cliff tombs at Norchia, preparing to make my transition from ‘this world’ to ‘the other.’ I was thinking about how to negotiate the passage, when it came to me--the reason for all the layers of fine white cloth arranged and spread around me. I said to you (because you were with me), ‘You just keep wrapping yourself with white cloth and eventually you are in the other place.’”

“histamine under tongue”

2. Lake
“The teaching that gave dyslexic brains the jump-start was unique in that it made every aspect of reading-words explicit.. .”

“This is a demonstration of how I lose sight of the fourth corner, which I had initially pinned in place. . . “

“When she notices the fourth pin missing and the feeling, again, of something unfinished, she also catches a faint odor. . .”

“When she comes close to something achieved, she enters a low and constant warning buzz . . .”

“I notice that he has done exactly what he wants, while I have remained where he brought me. . .”

“Inertia, ennui, losing momentum, lights dimming, broken generator. Letting someone erase you. Not wanting you there. Saying the sky is private property. Ours . . .”

“’When you stand among the paintings,’
(I stand among the paintings)
‘they make a sharp swerve away’
(I swerve away)
‘be drawn and filled in as of
mannerizing his own flesh’
(her flesh)”

“sliding over it, pearls glistening chlorine

“Pink and yellow shine white passage
exhaled and gone”

--from “A.D. Notebooks,” dedicated to “Willem De Kooning and Marjorie Fraser, stricken by Alzheimer’s Disease [AD] in parallel time.”

“The words unloose in me”


3. ii ss
“Putting love into words, and this stresses the utterance more than the propositional act. (“I must utter as close as possible to what I am experiencing with the other”) necessarily summons up not the narcissistic parry but what appears to me as narcissistic economy.”

“’Words rise up unaided . . . many a facet reveals its infinite rarity . . . our mind . . .sees . . . words not in their usual order, but in projection (like the walls of a cave), so long as that mobility which is their principle lives on, that part of speech which is not spoken.’”

“BUT that sparky bird
keeps shedding music”

“All I wanted was to feed the white swans. They did not glide on water but traveled in packs on flat dirt beneath the trees which were green, large of leaf and effulgent.”

“When they found her in Etruria, her body had been wrapped in this shroud made of pieces of linen, written on through centuries . . . used as “pages” for new writing whenever the old text had faded. Her family had wrapped her in this cloth, this writing, because it was available.”

“With dreamed stylus in wakeful hand--and many empty pages--I send you love, imagining you half in, half out of the water.”

“rouge azteque
rose de siam
rouge listrac”

The preponderance of quotations in this text are from Kathleen Fraser’s books of poetry and can be found in Something (even human voices) in the foreground, a lake (1984); Notes preceding trust (1987); when new time folds up (1993); h i dde violeth i dde violet (2003); discrete categories forced into coupling (2004); and ii ss (2007) as well as in her book of essays, Translating the Unspeakable (2000). They are referred to in the notes below respectively as lake, Notes, new time, i dde, discrete, ii ss and Translating. While I have tried to approximate Fraser’s diverse types and sizes, these are at best approximations. Other sources are as designated. Undesignated passages are of my origination.

‘He arose! . . . rose, i dde.
Shutter . . . harshly, i dde.
Dog’s . . . light, i dde.
There is a word . . . inevitability, Translating.
Writing’s . . .think about it, Dorothea Von Mucke, “The Imaginary Materiality of Writing in Poe’s ‘Ligeia.’”
Language . . .to read, Elizabeth Aylward, as quoted in”kids with dyslexia not doomed to reading difficulties,” University Week February 12, 2004.
The human . . . orthography), attributed to Virginia Berninger, University Week.
(ears . . . whistll, i dde.
Life . . . meaning, Walter Benjamin, Reflections.
The night . . . place,” new time.
histamine. . . tongue, i dde.
The teaching . . . explicit, Virginia Berninger.
This . . . Ours, lake.
“When . . .gone, discrete.
“A.D . . . time,” discrete.
The words . . . me, discrete.
boundayr, Notes.
ii ss, ii ss.
Putting . . . narcissistic economy, Julia Kristeva, Tales of Love.
But that sparky . . . music, ii ss.
“Words . . . spoken,” Stephane Mallarme, as quoted in Giorgio Agamben, The End of the Poem.
All I . . . effulgent,” lake.
When . . . water, new time.
rouge . . . listrac, ii ss.