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Mnemoship #1/Breaking With Books

Breaking With Books


I rip up Julie Choffel’s book, The Hello Delay. I take the cover and pin it to the wall. I take the first page and pin it to the wall. When I read that page I will unfasten the pin and turn the page over. When I read that page I will pin another on the wall next to it. When all the pages are on the wall I will wait a day and when that day is done I will take down all the pages and remove them from my life. I try to remember with discipline.

“spores in the skies my memorabilia” — Even though lines like this fold me up.Make me want to hold on to them.

I am destroying/rememorying books to make them precious. To make each page a once in time. To remember. St. Augustine said of time “What, then, is time? I know well enough what it is, provided that nobody asks me; but if I am asked what it is and try to explain, I am baffled.” This is becoming my library, my language. I feel something is known because it is near, physical or digital, and I forget it because it is near. I don’t even read when reading it because I know it will be there to come back. I do this thinking about Cecelia Vicuna’s menstrual quipos, her knots to remember what is not visible. It is not the same but I am trying to learn. From Choffel’s first poem, “Serenade, or After Others”:

Here, from a fake rose

I’ve made you a real one

my poetry has no camera

By the time you read this, there will be one less Julie Choffel book in the world.

By the time you read this, I will have tried to remember the work outside of the book.

If you have The Hello Delay then it is more precious. If you see me, quote me a line.


Filed under: Book Notes

About the Author

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Joe Hall is the author of five books of poetry, including Someone's Utopia (2018) and Fugue & Strike (forthcoming). His poems, reviews, and scholarship have appeared in Poetry Daily, The Academy of American Poets Poem-A-Day, Postcolonial Studies, Peach Mag,, PEN America Blog, Poetry Northwest, Ethel Zine, Gulf Coast, Best Buds! Collective, and Eighteenth-Century Fiction. He has taught poetry workshops for teachers, teens, and workers through Just Buffalo and the WNYCOSH Worker Center.

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