Anne Waldman and Pamela Lawton

Waldman cover

from Sweet-Voiced [Mutilated] Papyrus

for George Schneeman


Waldman Thumbnail


feminine art controversy? do not spray
we’re regressing here in the manner of social and civil rights

ostracized, never
never go homeless into the void

deep in time things are done out of contrariness

cast away pretense, charm the winds of Thrace
speech! speech! before the angry mob
& a clamor for pride

dreamed in the Greek dream I gave birth to a snake
and had a laugh with the other damsels

wanted the ones who were feminists to cheer
but they didn’t (did I?) get the joke

I was their school teacher……………………………………………………..
pencil over my ear


thumbnail: retrograde
forearm: necessary
thumbprint: obsolete



Waldman 2 (Lash)


“weibliche Arbeiten”
woman’s work is never shunned

knuckles: rapt

the pudenda chronicles
look up to see the pillaging Zeus?

can you spin? will you be scanned?
are you mad?
groves & shrines, dance around my course description

“jeunes filles”

what is the art of our love?

he went thinking, the shes kept circling the
liberated hearth, escaped into the streets

memory, meanwhile, kept steady
and standing on the soapbox heads


lash: febrile
nose: in profile
hairline: reconstitute for the fabricant


Waldman Gaze 1

Waldman gaze 2



Pamela Lawton_Gaze


syntactic weakness
fin de siècle decadence
I mean the last go-round

was she pure?

waiting for a future society to take over
hermeneutics for everyone……………..
lens of rescue

did we miss the absentee ballot procedure?

Hetairia! my friends
welcome to the symposium
and sing all night because we are all suppliants here

she is not an island of paypals
where beauty is set apart and purchased


gaze: masked identity
palm: extends
cornea: awake

Artists’ Statements

Runes, fragments and the odd moments and gestures and fissures of cultural artifacts of the past are ever generative in my poetry. How they relate to language and the body is always an exploration. Lines come together as the images assume composite yet fluid identities suggesting, in this case, parts of the hieratic female body.
On one occasion while visiting my literary archive at the Hatcher Graduate Library in Ann Arbor I watched skilled and scholarly librarians gently repair a recently acquired “mutilated” papyrus. Neglect, weather, age, war, other abuse? It triggered a suite of poems that eventually morphed into this one. I see this serial poem as montaged to reclaim and recreate a viable presence – a visible body, which is also a kind of archive – on the page.

I had already thought about a visual collaboration with the artist Pamela Lawton whose work I have long admired. Visualizing the project in black and white with her inimitable drawing line, I invited her into this project. This seemed the perfect match.

Pamela in her “Educator” role at the Metropolitan Museum has access to a range of cultural artifacts and outstanding masterpieces of all times and place and her recent work has been reflecting some of this visual input, as well as the machinations of her own expansive imagination.

I presented Pamela initially with my first drafts and then went on to respond to her responses to my texts. Things evolved in a playful back and forth mode, and when we presented the work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art live in the galleries with some of the pieces she had worked from, I felt the further dynamic of performance enter into the mix. I think of our collaboration as an interactive project in many ways, of a process that that will continue into the future with a sense of discourse, reclamation, and intervention.

–Anne Waldman



When collaborating, my peripheral vision expands, taking in others’ perspectives. This leads to spontaneous, unexpected and uncensored creative responses. This encounter with the “other”, this potential for empathy, occurs for me when working with poets, in a direct way, and also when I work from a motif, such as architecture or statuary. It also happens when interacting with other artists’ works, such as at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where, as an educator there, I have a glimpse into the world view of, say, a Renaissance tapestry designer, or a Buddhist sculptor.

All of this and more came together in working with Anne Waldman, whose poetry and writings and performances I had long-admired. When she asked me to work with her on this project, I was intrigued and overwhelmed by the serially fragmented fragments, on artistic, historic and corporeal levels. Among the oblique antiquities and modern muses, the textual layers elicted countless possibilities, leading to my making a connection between her writing and the overwhelming array of art within the museum. Her writing in hand, I allowed the voice of her poem and the language of the art at the Met to speak to me obliquely, sub-consciously, and made many artworks in front of statues, stele, and more. When the idea to present it as a performance arose, then our collaboration took on a new level, and we exchanged writing and art (mine and the Met’s) to shape it as both a visual and oral piece. Within this new way of working, the possibilities are rich, and we are looking forward to new iterations.

–Pamela Lawton

Anne Waldman has been a prolific poet, editor, professor, and performer, creating radical hybrid forms for the long poem, both serial and narrative, and engaged in “documentary poetics,” fueling her ethos as a cultural activist. She is a frequent collaborator with visual artists. She is the author of the magnum opus The Iovis Trilogy: Colors in the Mechanism of Concealment, a feminist “intervention” taking on war and patriarchy with a Buddhist edge, which won the PEN Center 2012 Award for Poetry. Her book Gossamurmur, (2013) is an allegorical adventure and plea for poetry’s archive which “reanimates sentient beings.” She helped found and directed The Poetry Project at St Mark’s in the 1960-70s and went on to co-found The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University with Allen Ginsberg, where she continues to curate the Summer Writing Program. Widely traveled and translated, she has worked most recently in Morocco, India and France. She is a recipient of the Shelley Memorial Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship for 2013-14.
Pamela Lawton has exhibited in galleries and museums both locally and internationally, including one-person exhibitions at the Galeria Nacional in San Jose, Costa Rica, The Conde Nast Building, NY, 180 Maiden Lane, NY, The Atrium Gallery, NY, and the Galeria Isabel Ignacio in Seville, Spain. Group exhibitions including her work have been featured in Pierogi Gallery, NYC, Sideshow Gallery, NYC, Tibor De Nagy Gallery, NYC, The Artists’ Museum, Lodz, Poland, and the Emmanuel Heller Gallery, Tel Aviv. Lawton is currently an Artist-In-Residence (AIR) at Chashama, NYC, and has been an AIR at the World Trade Center through the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. Collaborations with poets include Sweet-voiced [mutilated] Papyrus with Anne Waldman (Spyuyten Duyvil Press, 2015), Walking After Midnight with Bill Kushner (Spuyten Duyvil Press,2011), and A Place In the Sun with Lewis Warsh (Spuyten Duyvil Press, 2010). Interviews featuring her one-person exhibitions were featured on NY 1 News, in November 2011, and November 2009. She received a BA from Bennington College in visual arts and an MFA in painting from the City College in New York and Scuola Lorenzo De Medici in Florence, Italy. While a faculty member at New School University, she created a study-abroad art program in Sri Lanka. She has been teaching at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for more than ten years, and is on the faculty of Manhattanville College.

Editors’ Notes (Posit 5)


Welcome to Posit 5!

In this issue we are proud to feature literary and visual work by many rising, as well as gloriously risen, stars. As ever, we offer a range of literary aesthetics and approaches, from excerpted book-length projects by Anne Waldman and Pamela Lawton, Jane Lewty, and Deborah Poe, to short fiction by Luke Whisnant. This issue also showcases the poetic potential of the long prose line, put to innovative and distinctive use by Stephanie Anderson, Rob Cook, Kristina Marie Darling, Vanessa Couto Johnson, Bobbi Lurie, and Zach Savich.

We hope you enjoy:

Stephanie Anderson’s delightfully surreal and surprising Ditties, in which “everyone sits in the yo-yo park, staring at the buds,” and we are playfully invited to “look up the appendix” but warned not to “ride in the wrong direction”;

Marcia Arrieta’s gossamer constructions, at once contemplative, startling, and forlorn, in which “everything is dreadfully calm,” “deer come and graze on [her] bed,” and the narrator “often feel like an orphan”;

Rob Cook’s somber, foreboding poems in which he informs us of “the screams where I went / looking / for the clothes / my mother wore”;

Kristina Marie Darling’s wittily slant re-imaginings of nostalgic iconographies of femininity, charting their magical courses “from Iceland to Finland to anxious”;

Vanessa Couto Johnson’s wise wordplay delivered via statements that “think with the delicate,” awakening us to the mystery and ambiguity of our own existence, in which “the heart is not a pound but an apothecary dispensing needs”;

Jane Lewty’s “Spatio-Temporal [Re]Mix” of aural and visual referents amalgamated with precision and care into poems of musicality and provocative design, resonant with “a strange elation,/the skitter guilt of/achievement”;

Bobbi Lurie’s dense and powerful evocations of strength in the face of pain, shunning what is “fake as plastic shrubs” to reveal “how much the pursued is pursuant upon/a clause in the material fabric of a lie” with “the skill to slice whatever needs to”;

Nils Michals’ prose poems, teasing us with the contents of boxes: “an entire forest, petrified white, whereby the occasional breeze stirs the crowns” and something “unclaimed . . . is gifted to the Church in the name of a holy work that shall be unnamed”;

Deborah Poe’s quiet, serene “prouns:” elegant transformations of space to states of being we “don’t have to understand” although we are led to consider “[w]hat is lost when you ask why,” and assured that we “don’t have to connect dirt to language, But the histories cave right there”;

Zach Savich’s spare, starkly simple nuggets of imagist magic, demonstrating that “the things I like are the things that happen,” in other words, why “pleasure educates”;

Anne Waldman and Pamela Lawton’s feminist appropriation of classical oral tradition in which “women’s work is never shunned” and “the skies [keep] circling the/liberated hearth” where the female body is sung by its self and she/we can feel genuinely “welcome to the symposium”;

and Luke Whisnant’s post-apocalyptic flash fiction about a mandolin virtuoso in whose “music [resides] the anguished song of a headless doll and the rubato stagger of a cripple’s broken crutch.”

Thank you for reading!
Susan Lewis and Bernd Sauermann


Welcome to the visual art of Posit 5!

Made from found and fabricated objects, Mari Andrews’ sculptures delicately dance the line between nature and nurture, form and object. Each piece suggests a multitude of possible references. At once open-ended and concrete, her works are bits of sculptural poetry.

Kevin Brisco’s series “Build” presents a world of young men at work with muscular energy, both literally and imagistically. The raw materials that his images are painted on – wood, tape, and sheetrock – interact with the subject matter in a way that comments on the process and the product of a creative life.

The fact that Marcus Leatherdale uses the English colonial name for the Indian sub-continent, “Bharat,” in the title of this stunning photographic essay gives more than a clue as to its intent. This reference to India’s past jives perfectly with these elegant and haunting portraits of his friends and neighbors, imbued as they are with such a feeling of timeless nostalgia.

Oriane Stender’s work plays with the imagery and the objects of our material world. Using US currency and found paper, she sews, weaves, and paints these sly commentaries on the cultural interplay of commerce and art, image and meaning.

And finally, the video artworks by Tim Tate, elegantly framed in handmade glass, conjure the bits and pieces of half-remembered dreams. Their inhabitants share a moment with us and then, poof — they’re gone.

I hope you enjoy!
Melissa Stern