Slow Reading

the underside of a soaring raptor against a cloudy sky

This FEELed Note is the third in a series written by Natalie Rice, the FEELed Lab Researcher in/of/on Place this year.

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Slow Reading 

Norah Bowman’s book, “Breath, Like Water: An Anti-colonial Romance” has been buried in the earth for about a month now. This practice-based research is an experiment and I am unsure of what this process will reveal. I’ve been considering temporality and I wonder what kind of slow reading practices the earth will carry out on this text. What is wind-time? What is earth-time? What is water-time? 

Some questions that have arisen are: what is the violence of putting a book into the ground, the water or the wind? Does the earth want to read this book or my poems in response to the book? The leeching of chemicals from the book cover could be the reading. Or, the earth may somehow refuse the book. 

This earth reading may not be compatible with my human-imposed scale of time. The earth may need time that extends beyond this spring to begin to dissolve the text with water or for beetles to begin to eat away at the poem, for example. 

In the meantime, I’d like to write towards Norah’s book. Just like the earth reading and re-writing itself constantly, I would like to experiment with writing towards Norah’s original text which will then also be given to the earth to read as a way of generating a web of creative data. 

Anaphora is a poetic device where a word or phrase is repeated. Repetition is the container in which a shift can occur. True repetition is difference and a refrain changes how one might return to the original iteration. I’m curious to see how a repetitive poetic experiment could add layers of meaning to various places in Woodhaven. Elements such as earth, wind and water may give us back their own version of these poetic devices which may or may not have human readability. 

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