Creative Engagement with Nicole Mauro’s Tax-Dollar Super Sonnet (BRB, 2014)
The line of that song written by Imagine Dragons in which the singer sings “paying my dues to the dirt,” has set a tone in me this morning.
For some reason, right now, while reading Mauro’s book for what is probably the eighth time, I feel myself being maniacally magnetized to the phantom presence of Goddesses. What would certain Goddesses say about this book? Would the Goddesses that came forward, themselves magnetized by how Mauro’s work herein has come from energy being applied to husking, be feminist (“This must be man and the terrible is”)? Would the Goddesses needfully “discountenance” man? Would they hunger for man (“with my heart help a little his”)? Even join man in his caves (“we know man and his caves”)? Is this book a form of fertile ground? Is it cosmic dirt? Is a Goddess, literally, “faith poetically set forth”?
Yesterday, when in a somehow less needy place than usual in my dance practice, I was so grateful when I was able to dance my entire dance as gratitude to the divine. Yes: when I offer it I offer it in an intentionally open-ended way. I want it to be accessible to anyone, to anything, that might need it. Mauro’s strange but notably unstrained lyric touches me now, as a similar form of offer. This is language with no strings attached. The no strings, the feeling that because this space is not pre-designated in the context of content, is the gift of procedural works not obviously focused solely on content as path. There are many ways of having made ones way through something or gotten somewhere by way of it. There are many paths to walk.
While on the path with bare feet and without my shirt I am looking up. It is beginning to rain and rain is falling into my open eyes. When my eyes get full with this wetness being given me (rather than it being a wetness come from me as in the case of human tears), I turn my eyes to the ground (“the land it is formed”). What I see, delights me: the curled quantities of the sides of old computer paper that I used to make winding nests with as a child. I used to hoard the ringlet reams and now here they are! Remnants of what once was something whole (a whole sheet of computer paper). If not overwhelmed by and driven primarily by its own relationship to delivering content, is a work narrative? Procedural approaches of sieving typical reality into something else, into a place built by way of renovation of a place that once was, but now, is differently, often result in space somehow having been emptied, excavated. That space can then be treated like a bowl--a bowl is a place in which new things can combine.
Forbidden rice beneath hearts of palm cut into the shape of a flower? Ingredients that might have seemed outdated or overused or plain ‘ole boring in how they previously existed in relationship to you, can suddenly be made meaningful--possibly integral to you again. In a book in which political speeches and political spaces conspire to inform a form of unexpected grace, “there be thorns.” Still, the “un-imagined freedom” abounds herein. Mauro has generated a promulgation without any one thing to say.
-- j/j hastain