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Nox

Unfolded, Anne Carson’s book length poem Nox is nearly 1000 inches long – or wide, to be exact.

An accordion-fold book housed in a clamshell box, Nox is a single collage-like poem composed of dictionary entries, snapshots, scraps of paper, postage stamps, written memories, and other texts  in which we see Carson as she copes with the death of her brother, as she tries to comprehend “the smell of nothing,” “the muteness,” and the meaning of memories scattered across a lifetime.  Just as the physical book unfolds and then collapses back into itself, the unifying structure of Nox is the unfolding and collapsing of a short poem by the Roman poet Catullus.  Nox opens with the poem – known as Poem 101 – in Latin.  As you turn each page or further unfold the book (whichever way you choose to read Nox), you are confronted with the individual dictionary entries for every Latin word in Catullus’ poem.   As the dictionary entries mount up and you realize that Carson is working toward an English translation of the poem, these entries induce a kind of literary vertigo.  Each Latin word has multiple definitions that can be wildly different from each other, if not seemingly contradictory.  The net effect is to make the reader reel from the endless English permutations possible from sixty-three Latin words.

Via sebald.wordpress.com, and one of my current reads...

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