From Dame Quickly

By Jennifer Scappettone


Litmus Press
Original Language(s)
Additional Credits
Cover art by Rosemarie Fiore
Design by HvADesign
Art, Hybrid Forms, Poetry
Edition, Year
First Edition, 2009
In Print

Includes a 17-page, full-color insert of collages by the poet

“In my own writing I hope to puncture theory with the patois and stop-dead solecisms of the crucible that raised me, and which was anything but intellectual or academic (uncolleged; gougingly “across the abyss of a class migration”). I want to mobilize the speech of my girlhood household and neighborhoods for its critical and poetic capacity, its ability to talk back—and I aspire to tune to the neighborhoods of others, as artists from Tom Raworth to Julie Ezelle Patton, Rodrigo Toscano, and LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs do so bravely. Writing the poems of From Dame Quickly in the aftermath of 9/11, I wanted to introduce the carnality of “collateral damage” back into the cant of leadership and media channels that had eliminated bodies from their accountings of that latest detonation of the military-industrial complex, and also through the intellectual frameworks then reigning in school, at Berkeley, which was my employer, and beyond. Those frameworks had devolved into either a poststructuralism of the most narcissistic, amnesiac order, or a heroic Marxism that policed the wayside through its undead model of base and superstructure…

“Seek a disparate poetics of sincerity: not to manufacture by-the-book solidarity, or to make the invisible visible via a false logic of transparency, but to uphold the right to every other’s opacity—to bruise and multiply the channels of its invisibility.”

— Jennifer Scappettone, “Of Fishiness, Flesh, and the Radical Undead”

Jennifer Scappettone
Jennifer Scappettone works at the crossroads of poetry, research, translation, radical pedagogy, and on-and-off-page arts. Her poetics encompass trans- and semilinguistic forms of making such as collage, trash archaeology, pixelation, embodied performance, film, soundscape production, and choral ... Read More

Scappettone’s book, starting from the (Karl) Marx reference in its title to the Acker-esque flourish of its last line (“Idunno ma but every port I open (50693) stinks like the oikosed, costly.”), is inundated with the history of Western philosophy (Aristotle to Deleuze, and beyond), political economy and canonical literature… from Dame Quickly is remarkable in its breadth and striking in its intensely felt intelligence.

— Tyrone Williams, Jacket2


Praise for From Dame Quickly

The work in this wondrous first major book by Jennifer Scappettone has a phenomenal—an excitatory—presence, the presence of action, not thing. This book is a matrix of polytemporal energy, a linguistic carnival, ribald and resounding—”a most implicit maze.” The syntactic cadences of the poetry carry enormous semantic content, distributing but also timing meaning, in ways akin to those that one finds in the late works of Henry James, for example, or in Robert Creeley’s writing. But the language of From Dame Quickly—the lexical and linguistic turns of logic and sediments of lore—is Scappettone’s own. It invents absolutely contemporary, 21st-century archaicisms appropriate to erotic play or to ripostes against unjust governance. Subversive puns, seductive sound plays abound; references spin. Lexical pop-ups obtrude—terms or phrases that jump into view from some part of the terrain that is familiarly known as “out of context” but is in truth part of that all-context which is almost the entire human landscape. And that is the scope of this book—every place local and almost but never quite—this is an anti-totalizing project—entire. This is a vast and brilliant book.

— Lyn Hejinian

Quickly: it’s neither fish nor flesh, Falstaff nor Faust. “I became again, I learned to taste.” Translation, collage, prose poem, lyric invention, periodic convolute, imploded syntax & discursive veers: Scappettone’s richly textured, multifoliate poetry is an intellectual and aesthetic extravaganza that defies genre in its commitment to structural process and social materiality.

— Charles Bernstein

In her much-awaited-breath-bated first book, Jennifer Scappettone has found the perfect guise from which to rule her invented gorgeous and why supra-sensuous ambit—Dame Quickly, whom Scappettone (turn)styles a vatic “pre-Pandoran” “she-port” ready to “kick the alphabeted mass.” In Hank IV, D.Q.’s laser-sharp raunch divined use for fish, flesh, and man; under the auspices of Scappettone’s sprezzatura and witz, she’s ready-set and on her Marx, back with a “cinkangle-tongue / redubbed” to “contango” ladies, “phellus,” and bad apples’ “badablings.” Then again, Dona Quickly may be the whole netherside of the “M-16able” hetero-commodity void revealed, through the crystalline indeterminacy of “Bull Desuetude,” the near-pants-wettingly irreverent series “Derrida is Dead,” the palimpsestic visual scores of “Illocatable Hours,” among other panoptical utter gems. If you’re looking to gate-crash with site-specificity, this auratic book can cure you of the burning quotidian tertian (Falstaff’s disease (courtesy W.S.)). No matter your poison, you’ll want to peruse From Dame Quickly to see “Womankind—the everlasting irony of the community” (as Scappettone quotes from Hegel)—give “Venice’s eff-you” to the masculinist global oikos and realpolitik. “Sup on it!”

— Judith Goldman

The textual strategies within From Dame Quickly  save us from the market’s “ever easier”: (d)eluding the “spikes of activity,” the claims and mad (human) costs of value, and diseases themselves turned to commodity, as Falstaff says. Disorientation and fragmentation are guerilla warfare: they are the ultimate movements to impress upon the net of references and texts setting free and affirming the untold (always told) in Western history—the way it is now, as it wounds, is wounded, and regards us.

— Marco Giovenale

There are an infinite number of ways to read From Dame Quickly—its range of styles/methods recalling Black Mountain-inspired composition by field, collage poems combining blurred photographs and Burroughs-like cut-ups of her own poetry, prose poems combining the philosophical nuance of Lyn Hejinian and the irreverent humor of Bruce Andrews, its puns and neologisms working Joyce’s encyclopedic and politicized hijinks, its dedication to reworking philosophical concepts through crazed and incessant linguistic investigations recalling John Ashbery and [Jennifer Scappettone’s] own interest in Italian poetry of research (see Aufgabe #7). [From Dame Quickly] is an aporetic glossolalia of defacements, distortions, and extensions of language from the level of the word to the sentence to the poetic sequence “Whose deadline doesn’t thin.”

— Alan Ramon Clinton, from BOOG City 60

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