In the very near future, when the virtual blogs and the discussion boards will have collapsed, a book will be printed in the tradition of 17th century layered epistles, as if it were part of a “manuscript culture where names were highly unstable texts and where alternative, often discrete modes of authorship and text presentation thrived” to reveal the relation between the person, literature and the social. (Marci North). The text will ask how can an escaped band of heteronyms inform a culture policed by “Identity Politics Poetics, or as the jailbirds like to sing and name it:
The book will be called:
The Letters of Carla, the letter b.
A Mystery in Poetry
with a foreword by
The Future Guardian of the Letters
Afterword by Benjamin Hollander
(and it will be described, thusly):
Before others got involved, The Letters of Carla, the letter b.: A Mystery in Poetry was the modest attempt of one disciple to speak about and save her hero, Heriberto Yépez, from the controversies surrounding his critique of the poetic empire shaped by the North American poet, Charles Olson.
However, Carla was really not Carla but Carlo(s)–her letters falling like leaves from the trans- gendered Q’abala Lemon Tree–which is why the others’ letters had to arrive: to explain her transformations, her personae and her disappearance.
They came with the words of The Future Guardian of the Letters, who first cited real poets–Amiri Baraka, Wallace Stevens, Emily Dickinson, George Oppen–as who they were in fact and imagination and then who they gave themselves up to be, breathing, through their poetry.
But the real poets gave way to avatars. They came in the form of the Forsworn Author; the Savior Editor of The Shadowy Review of Chicago; the Critic as the Bloom off the Rose dead man wandering among the NY poets of the Tribe of John, who returned us to Carla, the letter b., the anagram of the silent Hollywood-sexed film star, Clara Bow, and kneeling before her, subject to blowback, the fake Mexican scholar, Carlos b. Carlos Suares (discoverer of the wine-dark Sephardic poet, Señor al-Quala).
In order to counter the crazed polemics of the fixed identity politics of the time, these more equally craving heteronymns came in peace to have their say. Like James Baldwin, who spoke of Identity as “the garment with which one covers the nakedness of the self”, they also thought “itbest that the garment be loose, a little like the robes of the desert, through which one’s nakedness can always be felt….”
Through it all, the real names of Olson and Yépez (or any other poet gang-lander who defended them), miraculously vanished under the multiple imaginations and vulnerabilities of the others, who wanted to talk only about multiplying the possibilities for poetry or about a future era reminiscent of certain Arabic verse traditions when the signature of a poet was how well the measured sounds of her poetry could contest the authority of the tribe rather than bow to it.
So under the shadows of multiple names, and on the trail of an era obsessed with the really tribal, these others came as a dust-clouded troupe of vagrants acting out a midsummer night’s dream of the present poetic polis where poets who were once enemies might soon take the stage as comrades.