Marjorie Welish

Marjorie Welish is the author of Handwritten (Sun, 1979). She has recently completed The Windows Flew Open, a second book-length manuscript of poems. Her essays on painting and literature appear regularly in American journals.

Working Notes, Marjorie Welish:

About travel, "A Way of Life" does no sight-seeing. Nor does this poem move through a landscape, shedding perceptions as it goes. These negatively-arrived-at determinations of formal limits put in place in advance enabled me to cope with the subject of travel without succumbing to the picaresque givens of the travelogue. Positively speaking, I chose to populate the poem with types--a vintner, a tourist, a concierge--and work with this readymade cast of characters throughout, closing the poem with a muted reprise of these characters, together with associated leitmotifs. I further chose to alternate essay with lyric in the hope that this intertextual tactic would add to the destabilization of "feeling foreign," the ultimate theme of the poem.
Precisely because "Institutions To Be Left Obscure" had its origins in a phrase about preferring problems to solutions, and because I thought it best to develop the poem stressing this, the theme of death appears as a problem, stated and restated (and restated again) before an enigma presented as a solution to this insoluble problem arises.

go to A Way of Life or Institutions To Be Left Obscure

go to this issue's table of contents