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Cable Factory 20
     

Cable Factory 20

by Lytle Shaw
 

Poetry. The water shored up the pilings and barnacles/ that shored up the pier, that shored up/ the memory machine. In Lytle Shaw's CABLE FACTORY 20, Robert Smithson's description of the landscape surrounding his Spiral Jetty in Utah's Great Salt Lake guides 20 site-specific poems. In the spirit of Smithson's site/ non-site dynamic, which proposes a continuous

Overview


Poetry. The water shored up the pilings and barnacles/ that shored up the pier, that shored up/ the memory machine. In Lytle Shaw's CABLE FACTORY 20, Robert Smithson's description of the landscape surrounding his Spiral Jetty in Utah's Great Salt Lake guides 20 site-specific poems. In the spirit of Smithson's site/ non-site dynamic, which proposes a continuous circuit between objects selected for framing as art and the contexts out of which they have been pulled, Shaw uses the the San Francisco Bay Area as his laboratory, exploring the extent to which a poetics of place, a linguistic site-specificity, is possible in the social/architectural landscape of the century America. Lytle Shaw edits SHARK with artist Emilie Clark. Their collaborations ROUGH VOICE and FLEXAGON, as well as SHARK, are available from SPD.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Shaw's book-length poem--part faux-documentary, part pastoral meditation on landscapes both mental and post-industrial, and also something of a novel--spins centrifugally from an investigation of the conceptual artist Robert Smithson, best known for his Spiral Jetty, an "earthwork" that extends into Utah's Great Salt Lake. Cable Factory 20 is an oblique homage to the artist and his work, imaginatively reconstructing Smithson's idiosyncratic topics, methods of site-specific research (from 20 vantage points) and the post-humanist, near ascetic set of values he took into artistic creation. In Shaw's Bay Area, the debris of industry forces the attentive speaker to alter his perceptions of time and space--matching the city-in-history's non-anthropomorphic scale: "Each city is actually a twin/ with the city of `Environs,' where/ motion propels into a phrase/ universe whose quality of surrounding / allows suffixes, abrasion./ And from here, the twin evils:/ (disbelief in substance,/ the body as final container)/ appear as so many programmatic/ whiffs." The book's pages become archeological sites unto themselves; each is bordered with Smithson-related images purposefully degraded via repeated photocopying, and repeating in patterns that emphasize the historical "trace" that corrupts as it transforms and decays. Developing most conspicuously the careful rhythms of Barrett Watten and Lyn Hejinian, Shaw nonetheless occasionally takes on more familiar tones, breaking in as a "narrator" with pellucid facts and cryptic commentary as he finds things and discards them, makes time to spend and time to lose, has fortuitous encounters, unforeseen set-backs, and so on. The cumulative effect has all the essential essences of noir, but stripped of plot and narrative--like meeting Welles' "third man" over and over again. This is one of the most intriguing books of the new year, and certainly a terrific first book. (Jan.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781891190056
Publisher:
Atelos
Publication date:
01/01/2000
Pages:
103
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.40(d)

Read an Excerpt



Chapter One


0.1


Everyone loves cable.
Continents connected, sea-floor cable.
The new cable lined in any neighborhood.

          One can be embarrassed by the factory.
Description factory, tractor celebration.
          What role then for broad production
today?
          How to and the glamour of public transport.


0.2


          This way site would have
the broadest stretch.
          Drawing zig-zag brick patterns
and etched street designs in yet
to be watered suburbs.
          All links pressure skin.


0.3


          Which begs, who's the filter feeder?
          Down at the bottom of the tank.
          Connections, infections, language baths
(as the scientists and many poets remind us), may
not be what is distinctive or essential.
          Sorting can go on indefinitely.


0.4


          Could reference just fade
back into the world, so excited tobe
at work and pointing?
          Undergirding the lake and
its extensions are cable's two
modes—communicative and structural.
          Letters man the fill.


#1


Mostly it's small displacements:
         visual mining now heard.
         Cows bend
up from glass plates,
         chew on, learning to
diagram sediment, spin
screen room reels.


At first admit the fan.
Likeness dominates.
To participate, I draw scenes:
         life in Utah: a dump-truck
contest where picnics work
rock expansion. So hagiography
         deposits
yields in shallow water,
sinking to place
toward staked markers.


                 This way
analog delay grows
         historical,
lodging specimens
         in fantasies
         of collapse never ours.
Searing in desert heat,
         a pickup
reverses—legs dangle
         over sand.


Only from the helicopter
         ochre designs
connect as plates:
klieg lights of noon-day sunshine
sap, cinematize the site.


Which is exactly where, since maps
at once crease to opposites?
         Bits thread west, others
to clean views (stores)
         and signal out again.
         Location leaps cleaning
         and suds apply
ear pressure, ear to ground.
         Out pencil-case.
Raise mud museum:
         send round word of where to saw.

#2

Mechanics drop tools to gaze at the nebula.
U-turning trucks pause in erosion beds.
Dumping loads letters for microscopes.
Sulfur-water, pumps, ledge deformation.
At this early stage, each method seemed to apply.


But the grain of surrounding
         less resembles desert lakes.
And as surveyors break cloud level,
         responsibility and chaos
         pressed under a new highway system
         vanish into diphthongs at a pool.


Lifts accelerate the passing-under function, weight
                   gone in slickness of floss.
                                     You know,
         certain aspects of this museum can peel away
                                     but the reality behind
                   filters you to the Plains States
                                              just the same.


To every trip comes definition.
Clouds seal an entry.
         Industries emerge and jokes apply:
         a candidate for medieval knighthood,
         serving a knight as attendant and shield bearer.
Redwoods chopped, dragged to bay,
               nest and de-nest
         as debatable land claims monopolize port.


         Breweries become anecdotes—and now
You're watching from a front porch
         sprawl grown familiar:
Sometimes used as a title of courtesy
         in its abbreviated form
                  after a person's full
                           name.


These scenes wedge between blocks
And even the shellmound,
        forgotten,
        appears on recent maps, where
Lost intentions meet us on stairs,
        explain grocery lags. In short,
        air and land locked in vast lattice.


So as space widens, paths multiply,
         and breathy line-turns
         settle down to discrete camps
                          (for bony plates)
         teased out in new
word-rooms of varying tile order.


See for instance the section on Henry Kaiser,
          three teams on
          steel hulls over hours,
                   leaning on an exodus
                   and changed group photo.
          Too variable!
                   but looms still stream.


Ramped streetcar lines link downtown
       to the elevated cemetery
                with a fine chalky deposit
       (perhaps dust blown from raised coral reefs)
       and oblong tubes spin behind glass.

(Continues...)

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