Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Question 4: How (or what) do you think about the line?

Noah Saterstrom

For Noah Saterstrom's response, please click here. Please note that this response is interactive and includes sound.

Richard O'Russa

The mathematical space points
A to B points
that makes up a space from
A to B
The Line becomes.
A line
the very edge of all things
staying in place
My line is never straight but appears
straight it is never strident.
It is strong. Our lines are like a beam.

The set up and the line
the written word
the line created to
expose thought
I thought then
I made a line which gave me
us an idea
I shared thru the line

The drawn line we cannot hear
them anymore
the young smooth
and we,
the rest,
are lined and the Bronx
is something else
of the Bronx.
I don’t feel the Bronx.
I want the line to hold more
everything should fit.
The whole line should hold
The edges
of the spaces in-between
here and there the lines we follow to their edge.

Annie Hagar

Kim Gek Lin Short

My mother. In Chinese the way I write her name: six lines then six lines again. A bilabial feral nasal. I close my mouth her voice the sound of her spit in my nose. The way the lines of my vocal chords vibrate. The lines when she writes. Dipping of ink; doting stroking; the action slaver of lines. Line-shaped lips stoic under complimentary hotel handkerchief (thread gone in lines). Inside her the uvula what hangs like Dripped Line. The oscillation of mucus (braided lines). The direction of lines order of lines names of lines: héng, shù, nà, tí. The roof muscle raised. The soft-palate home. If lids left lines.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Question 3: What do you know about the sentence?

Sara Veglahn

Sentences disappear.

I read and they disappear into something other than language—but what? Images? Emotion? Action? At the same time, though, they also come into sharp relief. I can’t not focus on the materiality of a sentence. I am propelled into the structure of phrases and clauses (I always find it pleasing that every clause is its own little sentence), subjects and predicates, modifiers, coordinating conjunctions, conjunctive adverbs, and subordinating conjunctions. I receive the same kind of pleasure from the music and rhythm of a sentence as I do from identifying all of the parts and naming them. I’ve heard that the practice of diagramming sentences (my favorite grade school activity) doesn’t happen anymore and wonder what my relationship to language would have been if I hadn’t been given that very precise method and practice of moving words and drawing lines to connect them.

I write and I don’t know exactly what I am going to render or reveal to my reader. I read and I don’t know what the writer is going to render or reveal to me—or at least it seems that way in the works I love the most. Certainly, the use of periodic sentences (where the main point comes at the end) can heighten the effect of suspense, but I think there’s more to it than structure. Sometimes I think I know what kind of sentence I want to make, but the language won’t work in the way I want it to, or the sentences become confused with language—or the language becomes confused. I suppose this is because we also use sentences to survive in the world.

I have a dream in which I say two sentences very loudly so that I will remember them later. I have recorded this dream but it is only the action that has been recorded—the sentences were lost despite my awareness in the dream-state to try to remember them. Almost every morning I wake up thinking, “I must remember this. I must write it down.”

Does remembering depend on what one can make into a sentence? I woke up with this in my head this morning: “every day a bride—a dead tomb.” Because I wrote it down, I have remembered it. It has been recorded in case it will be useful later. It may have information to reveal.

The shortest, most simple sentence often is the most expansive. The most famous example is perhaps “Jesus wept.” There are multitudes contained in those two words. But then there is the particularity and musicality of the long, sweeping, many-paged sentence. These are perhaps the most passage-like (if passage is a journey). The movement in a long sentence reveals its machine. The sentence diagram of a long sentence becomes a decoder ring.

Each sentence provides room for the next one, and I believe there is always a particular place that is destined for each sentence. A teacher of mine compared building a paragraph to building a stone wall—a successful wall will only stand if the stones are different sizes, different weights. The wall builder knows instinctively when the wall is solid and in balance.

I like to think of a sentence as a way of thinking, a passage, a journey. Of course, there is the other meaning—to be condemned, punished. Sentenced to a life in prison, for example. Sentenced to the sentence.

Joanna Howard

A mutiny, a division of ranks, a brazen escape on a prison ship bound for the penal colony on the island. His launch abandoned him, awash in the shallows of the distant isle. He was fished out, resorted and returned to the base where he issued the following statement: that from out the sea there emerged a creature who appeared, if not part fish and part man, then a fish in a man¹s costume; a hybrid creature, seeming at once truncated and sinuous, appearing at first partly submerged, then surging up, undulating, its tentacles outstretched, sweeping in anything around it. And while it had not precisely demolished their ship in its clutches, what was clear was that their course must shift. It as from this point that his thinking, and his captain¹s thinking began to branch apart.

And now, resituated on the base, he was held in interim. His career thus far had been punctuated by such indeterminate pauses. Consecutive probations. Mitigating factors. And it was not unusual for him to find himself subject to an imperative action. He had been insubordinate, on multiple counts.

The tribunal consulted. He was thus adjudged: a split sentence. Part to be served on the prison island, and part to be suspended or prolonged, accordingly. He considered the facts of it; It was imposed, and it was mandatory. It was in part a set duration, in full, an unfixed stint, and its ultimate severity would be determined by his actions. But it was not death. It was not complete condemnation. It was another beginning point, or so it would seem, a return, to the island which had nearly consumed him, on a boat he had only ever commanded in part. A return to an island, to walk its shores, however briefly, before consignment.

(Submit responses to question 4 - How (or what) do you think about the line? - to redroverinterview [at] gmail [dot] com.)

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Question 2: Tell me about your death.

Noah Eli Gordon

We hit a patch of ice, sending my father’s Buick spinning, my head bouncing off the window with the first full 360 degrees. I can’t tell if the world is coming toward us or we to it. The warped motion outside the window. A stonewall supporting the bridge we’ve passed under. The snag of the seatbelt. Its thick stitching. That time slows during trauma is a myth; the brain’s activity increases, rendering one’s memories more acute. It’s Christmas afternoon. Someone’s given me the same toy someone else gave me last night: Inferno, a Transformer that turns into a fire truck. This is my second Inferno. I say as much and am scolded for it. An hour later, half way into our next spin, I’m convinced we’re going to die. In ten years, I’ll learn that the second circle of hell in Dante’s Inferno is an endlessly spinning whirlwind. But first, now, I’m going to have to die. It’s okay. I’ve never been more calm in my life.

Elizabeth Robinson


The dying person is a messenger who has a packet to hand off to an individual who is “being born,” just coming into the world. In that way, death is like a relay race and there is a secret torch to hand off.

I believe, too, that there were messages waiting for me when I was born, and that I managed somehow to receive them. Also several people, dying, left me with various messages as they went. These communications were not material, but were transmitted in other ways. Sometimes the departure has been abrupt and angry, disruptive. Other times it has been solace. I feel that it is a human responsibility to be attentive to the subtleties of this process, to perceive what is there to be perceived.

As I die, I will have to decide about the nature of the transmission, about my kin or recipients. I will have to find a way to look forward, but I am not preoccupied with what is on the other side of my death because I am here now and that is where my commitments lie. My suspicion is that after death I’ll enter into a state of intense recognition: “Of course!” I have spent enough time with dying people to know that death doesn’t occur in an arbitrary way; it has its acute contingencies, but it is also very much a chosen process. I cannot explain why I am confident that I will be able to wait up to the right moment and then seize it.

Greg Howard

Will it be in winter? Under sullen skies? Skies like prayers? And will there be animals? Something with fur and claws to keep vigil? To lick where licking is wanted and howl when it appropriate? Will there still even be animals? Or will animals be only a memory? Something thought of between feedings? And what do animals know anyway?

What I remember is that it almost happened once when I was a kid. This was on vacation. And we were hiking through trees and tall grass and up a mountain. Not a mountain of any distinction. Not a particularly or a fearsome mountain, just a regular old mountain, but a mountain nonetheless, or maybe a very tall hill. And I don’t know what I was doing or what I was thinking but I almost walked right off the side of that mountain, off of a sheer cliff into deep and terrible ravine, but for my best friend, who, at the last minute, pulled me back. He grabbed my shirt and pulled me back. And then we both looked down at the ravine in awe. Shortly after this he was no longer my best friend and when we saw each other in school we mostly just nodded.

What I remember is probably not true.

But maybe it will be indoors, who knows when, a room with windows, or without windows, but certainly a bed, but something more meager than that, always more meager than that. Alone in a room: is that it? Alone in a room with certain voices: is that it?

I am in the kitchen. I am in the kitchen over the sink and watch the blood mix with water. I am in the kitchen over the sink and I watch the blood become something other than blood. She says that I should pay more attention to my own habits. What I don’t say: Have you ever?

I mention this for several reasons.

Let me tell you all about them.

(Submit responses to question 3 - What do you know about the sentence? - to redroverinterview [at] gmail [dot] com.)

Monday, June 1, 2009

Question 1: Describe your birth (in 500 words or less)

J’Lyn Chapman

It began with the beginning of my body. I do not know this part but am certain of it. The ghost was there, crying with every cell splitting. The body happens exponentially. An eye can only see one image at a time. It is questionable if the eye can see movement. The eye can see changes in the body but not movement. Cognitive dissonance connects changes. We call this animation. Our love for one another is connected to movement. All my love for you, friends, began with the beginning of my body, and the ghost was crying in the matrix. I could not hear in the beginning. I do not remember learning sound. What is a word for sound equivalent to sight? I have sound. I have hearing. I am not deaf. But the ability to hear is the least of all the senses if The World is what you’re after, and it also has no brief noun. I am certain the ghost was here to be heard. I am not dreaming about the true ghost! My mother could hear my heart but could not see me. I began before technology began. Then I came out, and the doctor said, it’s a girl. And my mother gave me a strange name she had determined and practiced pronouncing.

Richard Froude


I am trying to think about mass the same way I think about movement. Whenever this happens, I rely on instinct over patterns we learnt at the hospital. I think we stayed longer than the others, visiting hours, quite kindly, adapted. I could, after all, collapse the question with a phonecall but I have agreed to maintain this consistent narrative weight.

Later, in school, I learned the appropriate names. I learned how to recognize and how they could be rhymed. Estella, you’ve lost 83 pounds. This separation, a rendezvous, a closeness to earth: it could be a story about aeroplanes or sentences or newspaper clippings but it isn’t. The answer is a blizzard, uncommon to the area at the time.

Bhanu Kapil

Breech. Under a lebanese cedar. In the maternity wing of Hillingdon Hospital. A white house. Delivered by "Dr. Whitehouse." The nurses said: "Ooh, maybe she'll go to America when she grown up." Was born with blue eyes. The first Indian baby to be born on that ward. The nurses begged to hold me, as I was unbearably pretty and a radical change from all the regular white babies. My mother begged the nurses to let me sleep with her the night-time through. They said yes, enchanted by the whole situation.

(Submit responses to question 2 - Tell me about your death - to redroverinterview [at] gmail [dot] com.)

Friday, May 1, 2009

Idea: Blog

So, this idea for a blog: an interview with revolving respondents. An ongoing interview in which everyone is invited to participate.

Red Rover, Red Rover, let the answers come over.

For the first few rounds, until things get going, most responses to the questions will be probably solicited, but the hope is that eventually when a question is posted on the blog people will just submit their responses, doing away with the nasty business of solicitation altogether. (This presumes a "readership," however.)

Answers in all formats will be entertained (visual, audio, text, etc.), but a limited number of responses will be posted.