Stray: A Graphic Tone

Stray: A Graphic Tone

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Authors: Susan Howe and Nathaniel Mackey 

Publisher: Fonograf Editions (2019)

A collaborative release with the visual artist Shannon Ebner, Stray: A Graphic Tone features the poems of Susan Howe and Nathaniel Mackey. Produced and collated by Ebner, Stray: A Graphic Tone juxtaposes historic and recent material from Howe and Mackey between 1991–2018. The work brought together specifically examines the two writers’ lifelong preoccupation with subjects adrift in dispossessed narratives both real and imagined. A gatefold LP, the liner notes for the album feature excerpts of original interviews, as well as reproductions of the poets’ published materials. According to Ebner, "Stray: A Graphic Tone is the full-length version of what I started in 2016 when I began seeking exchanges with these two poets. I was drawn to their works for their experiments with poetic form—for their politics of poetic form, to be exact—for their poems’ stray figures and stray errant marks.”

A gatefold LP, Stray: A Graphic Tone includes original interviews and artist materials on its foldout sleeves. Find two interview excerpts below:

“. . . sound is everything in poetry. It’s measure; the measure is everything. Even though I have gone on about silence. This is the mystery. I don’t have a set measure, but I feel that something about the way I place words on paper amounts to a kind of dictation I’m receiving from somewhere. Every mark on paper is an acoustic mark. Sound is also, obviously, sight. It’s that instant flash of recognition that echoes and re-echoes. A work of art if it works teaches us we haven’t seen what we suddenly see.”

–Susan Howe

"Graphite is soft carbon. Were it hard enough to withstand contact and remain totally self-contained, it would not be useful for writing. Graphite gives up some of itself upon contact with paper. Graphite suffers a loss that leaves a mark.’ So, the music I’m talking about, the writing I’m talking about, is talking about loss that leaves a mark. And not just talking about it; it is the mark that’s left.”

–Nathaniel Mackey