What does it mean to live fidelity to a particular body of work? How do we respond to an artist who has crucially left their mark on our own critical/creative practice(s)? How do we stake out and live this commitment—show this fidelity in situ, rather than wait to learn what it will have meant?

A number of poets in the San Francisco Bay Area are attempting to think through fidelity to our forebears in a meaningful way, and we invite you to join us, in person or from afar. Here’s our proposal:

A collective of artists and intellectuals will commit the 2016-2017 academic year to study and respond to the corpus of a single poet. This poet will have committed themselves to the poetry community in the San Francisco Bay Area, specifically—a poet who, we believe, deserves a deeper, more scrupulous reading. This year we have chosen to engage with the work of visual artist, translator, and poet Norma Cole. You can learn all about Norma’s extensive art practice at the website, where you’ll find links to out-of-print documents, visual art, and writing about Norma’s translation practice.

We will study this body of work sometimes together, sometimes apart, sometimes in parallel. Some will simply read the work more deeply than usual; others might contribute to scholarship by interviewing the artist or making archival interventions; some might resurrect out-of-print material or attempt to make crucial material available to a larger reading public; others might organize smaller reading groups or public events. In short, the nature of our work will sometimes be intimate, sometimes public, and sometimes collaborative, depending on the contours of our lives (and the constellation of participants involved).

In order to thread our reading and writing together, we’ll use the forums page on this site, to which all participants will have access. There and on the materials page, we’ll post stray thoughts, discoveries from readings, out-of-print material, archival material provided by the author, and we’ll discuss ways to deepen our collective engagement and to plan a celebration at the end of our run in August 2017.

If you’re interested in joining us, even if you simply want to read in tandem, on your own, please contact us. And feel free to spread the word about this project to all interested parties.