mimer
Lance2014
  • Series: The New Series 66
  • ISBN-13: 978-1-934103-56-2
  • ISBN-10: 1-934103-56-X
  • Pages: 112
  • Price: $18.00

Mimer

Lance Phillips

Mimer is about the mutability of experience, the contexts that contain mutability, and the stories we use to make sense of it all. “We live by our mythologies,” says Lance Phillips, “and those mythologies are evolving as quickly as details can shake themselves free.” The fourth book in an ongoing series that maps the personal to the mythological, Mimer is erotic and ecstatic, taking those details and investigating what makes them honest.

With their uncanny quality of attention and gnomic precision Lance Phillips’s brilliant poems readily accord neither with our normative arrangements of language nor with our manifest schemas of perception. This book is both an ingenious meditation on, and a ‘disportraiture’ of, the transitory and miraculous nature of the world’s assemblages, our provisional and thrilling successes at description and understanding, our incapacity for thoroughly fathoming the real, and the necessity of continuing to try.” —Gabriel Gudding

“Lance Phillips writes near-hieroglyphics in the American dust and loves it.  Grief is here, as it always is, but Mimer is also laced with the pleasures of having gotten something said by having made a body hum.  Allegoric, algorithmic, and beautifully un-gorgeous, it’s a book worth working through and running through you.” —Graham Foust

Anonymity

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As purveyor Eros kept a thimble embossed with eyes

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A fashioner of trinkets from his body: the liminal hand, skull, squirrel

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Trickery gathers, forming his hand.

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One stroke into wren

Retaining the act or victim

Cupped from recognitions

The prospects: hand+sun

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.................Depicting includes:

.................consort

.................ants, winged, lain double

.................welts raise this shape across her back

“Do you see this shape?” One makes one’s own hand Crucible into which goes spit.

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Gathers her hair 

.................Removed their substance then facing a tempest the twelve ships

.................One remembers with centipede under heel at pre-dawn, crush

.................The crushing wind

into a column within his fist. 

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Copyright © 2014 by Lance Phillips

“In his fourth book, Phillips (These Indicium Tales) creates for readers a sensation of being presented with an exhibit of assemblages in a modern art gallery. Following loosely in the tradition of Marcel Duchamp's turning a urinal on its back and calling it a fountain, Phillips offers poetic objects that on the surface appear to be something entirely different than what they claim to be. There is a feeling that something has been withheld or, more accurately, erased.” —Publishers Weekly

Lance2014My first memory is that of crushing a scorpion, accidentally, under my bare feet in Las Vegas; I was two or three years old. My second memory is that of a stray cat slinking through our door, open against the Texas heat, leaping to the counter and lapping at a dish of very soft butter; I guess I was three or four in Del Rio.

I was born on an American military base in Stuttgart, Germany, and grew up in Nevada, Texas, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. My parents divorced when I was around five years old. After the divorce I didn't see my father again for over twenty-five years; for about eight of those years I thought he was dead. He re-entered my life in 2001 then died in 2007.

I dislike classrooms and requirements. In fact, if it hadn't been for my girlfriend at the time (now my wife) I’d have never made it to university—it had never occurred to me as something I should do. Still, I ended up at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte as a psychology major—that is, until I read The Stranger for a required literature class. After that I quickly became an English major.

I came to writing very quickly. In the space of about a year I went from dabbling to cramming summer school credit hours in so I could attend the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in the fall, to my great surprise. I guess what I was reading in that space of time drew me in, made the idea of writing palpable, attractive and seem important. I wasn’t much of a reader, aside from a brief infatuation with Chaucer in 12th grade English, until I became something of a writer and then I read everything I could. But what sticks in my mind are the following: Emily Dickinson, some Whitman, Emily and Branwell Brontë, T. S. Eliot (The Waste Land in particular), and Jon Anderson. Also a couple of anthologies: The Random House Book of Twentieth Century French Poetry and the 1990 edition of The Best American Poetry (editor Jorie Graham), which introduced me to writers like Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Brenda Hillman, Fanny Howe, Laura Moriarty, Alice Notley, Michael Palmer, Joan Retallack, Donald Revell, and Gustaf Sobin.

Finally, an experience with a wonderful friend and teacher put the icing on the cake. Our class met at his house for an end-of-semester class/party and were sitting on the floor passing around a box of Capt’n Crunch while he read to us from the new (this would have been I guess winter 1991) APR. It was a section from Susan Howe’s Singularities. I was 21 and utterly hooked.

What was important about my education was contact with a specific person or group. At UNC–Charlotte it was with Christopher Davis, the first person to take me seriously as a writer and to introduce me to contemporary writing. At Iowa it was with Donald Revell in my last semester, but more importantly it was with a small group of writers to whom I feel very close still and from whom I’ve learned immeasurable things: Catherine Wagner, Martin Corless-Smith, and Matthew Rohrer.

The writer who has remained a constant for me is Nietzsche. Other influences on me which haven’t waxed and waned much over the years are, strangely, most often painters. These are: the anonymous iconographers of medieval illuminated texts, Francis Bacon (I can still remember the day he died when I was an undergraduate and that Queen Elizabeth referred to him as that man who paints those awful pictures), Cezanne, Anselm Keiffer, Agnes Martin, Piet Mondrian, Marcel Duchamp (a heavy influence), Jasper Johns, and Jim Dine (and others who I’m probably forgetting).

Other writers who are either always popping up or just about to or haven’t in a long time are: Eliot (at first The Waste Land, but more and more “Four Quartets”), Jon Anderson, Susan Howe (particularly, Singularities), Fanny Howe (beginning with The Vineyard and Saving History), Creeley, Olson (and behind him Henri Corbin), Anonymous middle English lyrics, Zukofsky, Oppen, Williams’ Kora in Hell, Meister Eckhardt, Thomas J.J. Altizer, John Dominic Crossan (his great book on parable), Celan, Hölderlin, Artaud, Roger Giroux, Deleuze, Martin Buber, Levinas, Leslie Scalapino, Michael Palmer (especially Notes For Echo Lake), Samuel Beckett (later work), Guy Davenport, John Cage, various writings on Zen, Thoreau, Barthes, Bataille, Pound, and Stein. I’m sure there are lots of others but these are the ones to which I return.

I've published three books of poetry (Corpus Socius, Cur Aliquid Vidi, and These Indicium Tales) with Ahsahta Press. My poetry has appeared in New American Writing, Fence, Verse, Colorado Review, and has recently been anthologized in the Black Mountain College anthology Far from the Centers of Ambition. My work has received an &Now award and been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. I live in Huntersville, NC with my wife of 20 years and our two children.

The title of the book is a mash-up. A misremembering of Mimir, Old Norse for “The Rememberer” and a wise man from Norse mythology (Mimir was beheaded, only to have his decapitated head carried around as a portable counsel by Odin), and mime(r), from the Greek μῖμος, “imitator.” I find the notion of “The Rememberer” as an “imitator” irresistible; so much of memory is imitation.

I think of the book as a collection of parables, but in the sense that Crossan uses the term, as disruptors. Parables are meant to attack the status quo, to enact the “kingdom of heaven” on earth, to speak metaphorically. A parable is an orgasm, or so I take it to be, which allows the body to arrive at its own disruption. Those disruptions present authentic reality.