“Collapsed Aura”: Nathaniel Mackey, Robert Duncan, and the Poetics of Discrepant Subjectivity in “Song of the Andoumboulou”

  • Andrew Mossin
Part of the Modern and Contemporary Poetry and Poetics book series (MPCC)


Where serial form functions for Blaser in his “Image-Nations” as meditative praxis for a reconsideration of the connections between public and poetic discourses, in the work of Nathaniel Mackey seriality’s jagged edges are employed to address those wandering, preternaturally exiled others of historical and cultural consciousness, what Mackey has described in his introduction to his 2002 collection of poems Splay Anthem (2006) as “a lost tribe of sorts, a band of nervous travelers, know[ing] nothing if not locality’s discontent, ground gone under” (x). It’s a potent gloss on visible form’s meeting of invisible witness, rumored selves that populate and limn the saturated and ragged lines of Mackey’s serial movement. Mackey has described his work in his ongoing serial poem “The Song of the Andoumboulou” as “Dogon deep song, Dogon cante jondo” (Splay xi). As such, this work

lend itself to andoumboulous liminality, the draft unassured extension knows itself to be. Provisional, ongoing, the serial poem moves forward and backward both, repeatedly “back/at/some beginning,” repeatedly circling or cycling back, doing so with such adamance as to call forward and back into question and suggest an eccentric step to the side—as though, driven to distraction by shortcircuiting options, it can only be itself beside itself. (xi–xii)


Phantom Limb Spirit Possession Poetic Language Cultural Motif Viper Bite 
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© Andrew Mossin 2010

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  • Andrew Mossin

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