No. 18: W. Scott Howard

No. 18: W. Scott Howard


$8  •  ISBN 237-0-000-37674-9  •  42 pages  •  2016

SPINNAKERS (preview) is a cryptographic masterwork that explores the way language moves in and beyond us. Each poem is a two-page assemblage consisting of prose poem, lyrical erasure, and Morse translations. They are anagrammatological protests and prayers from suburban apocalyptic midnight potlucks, amplifying the spatial and temporal dynamics between wind/sail and sound/speak, transmitting tragic joy within and against headlong crisis culture. "This reminds us," writes sound artist Ryan Wade Ruehlen in the introduction, "that all language is a form of code, that each code is a container, and that small containers hold complex notions, double meanings, and illegible nothingness all at the same time." SPINNAKERS is of profound import for all who wonder what poets today are called to do.

"Howard masters a compound poetic of subtraction and conversion in this masterly and compact nautical text. Echoes of Mallarmé’s Un Coup de Dés and the lingering persistence of Oppen’s “shipwreck / Of the singular” combine with a restless wake behind this text-ship blown from code to code. The three points of the spinnaker are there alright: a tight text which registers as a compressed abbreviation, a distilled fragmentation, and the non-semantic jump into Morse."

Steve McCaffery

"For H.D., art works if transmitted through “the secret of dots and dashes” but only to receivers who were receptive. W. Scott Howard sounds our own time through telegraphic broadcasts and their Morse translations as prose poems and their erasures spin centrifugally. The titles themselves tell much of the story, from “Mere Bog” to “Surplus Ephemera,” from “Relic Wink” to “Glitch Blebs.” If “kinetic swirl eclipses pronouns for subjectivity,” then erased, we must pause on “lips.” If “lyric politics twilight swift divinations,” then we are returned to “swift     nation.” These are deft soundings of an apocalyptic time in which “stammering utter notes” are “dash     open.” Take your time with them, let them sink in, tune in to their accompanying sonictexts, and you will find yourself brought into an elsewhere unsounded hitherto that tells of home."

Jeanne Heuving

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Sonictexts from SPINNAKERS


About the Author

W. Scott Howard teaches poetics and poetry in the Department of English at the University of Denver. He received his Ph.D. in English and Critical Theory from the University of Washington, Seattle, where he was a member of the Subtext Collective. Scott worked at Powell’s Books (1990-93) where he co-managed (with Vanessa Renwick) the Small Press & Journals section, the dewclaw reading series, the prism interdisciplinary discussion series, and also managed the Critical Theory section. His interviews in PLAZM magazine (1993-97) are noted in the documentary film, Helvetica (2007). Scott is the founding editor of Reconfigurations: A Journal for Poetics & Poetry / Literature & Culture and of Appositions: Studies in Renaissance / Early Modern Literature & Culture. His multigraphs for Reconstruction include Water: Resources and Discourses (2006) co-edited with Justin Scott Coe; and Archives on FireArtifacts & Works, Communities & Fields (2016). His collections of poetry include the e-book, ROPES (with images by Ginger Knowlton) from Delete Press, 2014. Selected sonictexts from SPINNAKERS (The Lune, 2016) are available on SoundCloud. His work has received support from the Modern Language Association, the Pew Charitable Trusts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Beinecke Library, Yale University. Scott lives in Englewood, CO and commutes year-round by bicycle, following what crow dost.

In Review

  • Sailing Lines: Rich Murphy reviews W. Scott Howard's SPINNAKERS (Word For/Word)