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Mnemoship/Breaking With Books #2



I saw Noah Eli Gordon read with Joshua Marie Wilkinson Bridge Street Books in Washington, DC. It was maybe 2005, 2006 and I was new to everything. Crammed in that shotgun style room, watching two friends do their intense, complex, beautiful thing, I thought: “This is it. This is something I want to do. This is something I can do.” That reading brought me closer to poetry, but I got lost in other authors, other works. Three years ago I picked up a reading copy of Noah’s The Area of Sound Called the Subtone in a library in Lafayette, Indiana and lost it  in a confused welter of boxes and moves. I found it again unpacking my library in Buffalo. It’s been a sign of my scatteredness and to read it it is becoming my stationary to scatter–notes to friends and notes to Cheryl, in the mail, on the road–Portland, San Fransisco, L.A.  This is my address:

226 Linwood Ave, Apt #8 / Buffalo, NY 14209

Write me something, and I’ll write back through one of the pages of Noah’s books. I am writing through the pages of his book to destroy it.


I am destroying his book to make it 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. Read her.

I wouldn’t call myself a conduit for that all-fours-as-a-way-to-show-one’s-humility circuit. If you insist, the walnut opens. Someone brings in a plate of food & you’re always hurtful (78)

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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