AMANDA [NGOHO] REAVEY Reviews
As We Know by Amaranth Borsuk and Andy Fitch
(Subito, Boulder, CO, 2014)
In their collaborative poetry project, As We Know, which was selected by Julie Carr for the Subito prize, Amaranth Borsuk takes Andy Fitch’s summer diary and reshapes 60 passages from April to June, calling into question authorship, transparency, the relationships between writer and editor and reader, erasure and the resulting product. I think of Mikhail Bakhtin, a literary theorist, who wrote, “the text lives only by coming into contact with another text (with context). Only at this point of contact between texts does a light flash, illuminating both the posterior and anterior, joining a given text to a dialogue” (Bahktin, 1986, p. 62). This work highlights multiple layers of writing: the original writing, the edited writing by Fitch and the further editing by Borsuk through erasure and strike-throughs that result in fragments.
It feels appropriate, actually, that Fitch quotes from Rosalind Krauss’ Bachelors and enacts within the edited quote and throughout the whole book, what Krauss calls, “categorical blurring” which is “initiated by the continual alteration of identity” (Krauss, 1999, p. 7). Is the editor editing the book or co-authoring it? Is the editorial process the erasure of the author? Is there such thing as self-representation? After redaction, who is the “I” and what is left? The ‘partial figure.’
As We Know, p. 16
(Click to enlarge)
Then, to further add to its layers, enter the readers. In As We Know, the erased text is given to us, and so we are challenged to enter the dialogue thinking about both process and product. While intellectually we understand that the product goes through an editorial process, we are challenged right then in the reading to acknowledge it and to enter the dialogue by considering how to read it: do we read the crossed out lines only, or the edits only? Or do we attempt to read both? And, while we are navigating this, we cannot help but wonder, what is a text? And who decides?
As We Know is a conceptual exercise, a thought-provoking dialogue between who we, and others, think we are, and who we are, and life.
Bakhtin, M. M. Speech Genres and Other Late Essays. Austin: U of Texas, 1986. Print.
Borsuk, Amaranth, and Andy Fitch. As We Know. Boulder: Subito, 2014. Print.
Krauss, Rosalind E. Bachelors. Cambridge, MA: MIT, 1999. Print.
Born in the Philippines, Amanda [Ngoho] Reavey has an MFA in Writing & Poetics from Naropa University, and currently works for Woodland Pattern in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Ngoho's work appears in Galatea Resurrects #23, Fjords Review, TRUCK, and The Volta, among others, and her first book Marilyn is forthcoming from The Operating System. Find her at spaceinsideborderline.com.