Cecilia Dougherty

1998 | 00:11:05 | United States | English | Color | Stereo | 4:3 | Video

Collection: On Art and Artists, Single Titles

Tags: Artist Portraits, Documentary, Interview, Language, Poetry

In the early 1990s, I went to a reading by Leslie Scalapino at Intersection for the Arts in San Francisco. I could not understand the writing, which can seem difficult and unwieldy to a reader unaccustomed to language poetry, and understood less the more I tried. After a certain point in the reading I stopped trying to figure it out and I let the words seep in. My reward was an effortless understanding of how her poetry works. She may not have been a language poet, after all, but what Fanny Howe calls “a solitary, an original.” Scalapino’s politics, too, were inextricable from the poetics of the text. I became hooked, and one or two lines of her writing could provide weeks of probing thought and invaluable insight to me, the newly initiated. Later, we were teaching together at Bard College and I wanted to portray her writing, to provide a visual counterpart to her own project of “getting inside of the action.”

We shot this video in an afternoon, taking our cues from the text that she was working on at the time, As: All Occurrence in Structure, Unseen – (Deer Night). This video is about the writing, the rigor of Scalapino’s practice, and the humor and light that she lets in. Leslie Scalapino died in 2010, leaving an unmatched legacy of literature, poetry and ideas.

— Cecilia Dougherty

This title is only available on The Writers Series.

Exhibitions + Festivals

Anthology Film Archives, 2012

Bard College, 2008

San Francisco Poetry Center, 2003

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