The Book Withdraws into Itself: Rachel Blau DuPlessis’ Drafts

  • Matthew Carbery
Part of the Modern and Contemporary Poetry and Poetics book series (MPCC)


This chapter conducts a reading of the overall form and structure of Rachel Blau DuPlessis’ long poem project Drafts. First started in 1986, it is a work of dazzling formal variety which displays not only direct engagement with phenomenological texts but also with previous American long poems, and as such constitutes not only a long poem in its own right but a commentary on the procedures and processes involved in their composition. Carbery reads the poem in terms of the various ‘levels’ of the text’s structure; firstly, by reading the ‘drafting’ process phenomenologically; secondly, by exploring DuPlessis’s engagement with the deconstructive phenomenology of Jacques Derrida; and thirdly, by positioning DuPlessis herself as a major voice in the wider criticism of modernist and contemporary long poems.

Works Cited

  1. Deleuze, Gilles and Felix Guattari. The Fold. Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press, 1992. Print.Google Scholar
  2. ———. What Is Philosophy? New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 1994. Print.Google Scholar
  3. ———. Anti-Oedipus. London: Bloomsbury Academic Press, 2013a. Print.Google Scholar
  4. ———. A Thousand Plateaus. London: Bloomsbury Academic Press, 2013b. Print.Google Scholar
  5. Derrida, Jacques. Speech and Phenomena. Trans. David Allison. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1973. Print.Google Scholar
  6. ———. Positions. Trans. Alan Bass. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1981. Print.Google Scholar
  7. ———. Of Grammatology. [1976]. Trans. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1997a. Print.Google Scholar
  8. ———.‘The Other’s Language: Jacques Derrida Interviews Ornette Coleman, 23 June 1997’. Genre: Forms of Discourse and Culture. Trans Timothy S. Murphy. Oklahoma, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997b: 319–329.Google Scholar
  9. ———. Writing and Difference. [1967]. Trans. Alan Bass. London: Routledge, 2001. Print.Google Scholar
  10. Derrida, Jacques and Derek Attridge. Acts of Literature. New York: Routledge, 1992. Print.Google Scholar
  11. Devaney, Thomas. ‘Our Law/Vocables/of Shape or Sound: The Work of Susan Howe’. How(ever) 1:4 (1984): 3–17. Print.Google Scholar
  12. ———. HD: The Career of That Struggle. London: Harvester and Bloomington, 1986. Print.Google Scholar
  13. ———. The Pink Guitar. New York, NY: Routledge, 1990. Print.Google Scholar
  14. ———. Drafts 1–38, Toll. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2001. Print.Google Scholar
  15. ———. Drafts 39–57, Pledge with Draft, Unnumbered: Precis. Cambridge, UK: Salt Publishing, 2004a. Print.Google Scholar
  16. ———. ‘Marble Paper: Toward a Feminist “History of Poetry”’. Modern Language Quarterly 65.1 (2004b): 93–129. Print.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. ———. ‘Lorine Niedecker’s “Paean to Place” and Its Fusion Poetics’. Contemporary Literature 46.3 (2005). Print.Google Scholar
  18. ———. ‘Inverting the Middle: Turning Points in Drafts’. Jacket2 Online. 2011. [Date Accessed: 23 September 2017]. Web.
  19. DuPlessis, Rachel Blau. Blue Studios. Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press, 2006. Print.Google Scholar
  20. ———. Torques: Drafts 58–76. London: Salt Publishing, 2007. Print.Google Scholar
  21. ———.‘Considering the Long Poem: Genre Problems’. Webpage. University of Sussex Lecture, 2008. [Date Accessed: 23 September 2017]. Web.
  22. ———. Pitch: Drafts 77–95. London: Salt Publishing, 2010. Print.Google Scholar
  23. ———. The Collage Poems of Drafts. London: Salt Publishing, 2011. Print.Google Scholar
  24. ———. Purple Passages. Iowa, IA: University of Iowa Press, 2012. Print.Google Scholar
  25. ———. Surge: Drafts 96–114. London: Salt Publishing, 2013. Print.Google Scholar
  26. ———. ‘After the Long Poem’. Dibur Literary Journal. Issue 4: The Long Poem (Spring 2017).Google Scholar
  27. DuPlessis. Rachel Blau and Peter Quartermain. The Objectivist Nexus. Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press, 1999. Print.Google Scholar
  28. McCreary, Chris. ‘The Serial as Portal: An Interview with Rachel Blau Duplessis’. [Date Accessed: 23 September 2017]. Web.
  29. Meillassoux, Quentin. After Finitude. London: Continuum, 2009. Print.Google Scholar
  30. Pritchett, Patrick. ‘On Drafts’. Jacket Magazine Online. 2015. [Date Accessed: 23 September 2017]. Web.
  31. Rifkin, Libbie. ‘The Force of an Intervention: Rachel Blau DuPlessis’s Response to Oppen’. Jacket2. 2011. [Date Accessed: 23 September 2017]. Web.
  32. Silliman, Ron. ‘Un-Scene, Ur-New’. Jacket2 Online. 2011. [Date Accessed: 23 September 2017]. Web.
  33. Tarlo, Harriet. ‘Origami Foldits’: Rachel Blau DuPlessis’s Drafts 1–38, Toll’. Howe2 Online Journal. 2002. [Date Accessed: 23 September 2017]. Web.
  34. Taylor, Catherine. ‘Take Your Time: The Ethics of the Event in “Drafts”’. Jacket2 Online. 2011. [Date Accessed: 23 September 2017]. Web.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthew Carbery
    • 1
  1. 1.Plymouth UniversityPlymouthUK

Personalised recommendations