Every Atom | No. 12

Richard Jackson

Introduction to Every Atom by project curator Brian Clements

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“I meet new Walt Whitmans every day. There are a dozen of me afloat. I don’t know which Walt Whitman I am,” Whitman notes in Walt Whitman Speaks. “I was once Walt Whitman,” Borges wrote in “Camden, 1892,” taking on one of his many personae whose numbers rival Fernando Pessoa’s voices. “I’ve put myself in all of the pronouns,” Mark Strand quipped in an interview. “I is another,” Rimbaud writes, perhaps echoing Keats’ idea of the chameleon poet who “has no Identity---he is continually in for---and filling some other Body.” And yet isn’t this the essence of poetry? What does it say about current views on “appropriation”? Something about how the idea of imagination has shrunk among those who have forgotten what imagination is, who have forgotten that, by exploring voices (think of AI), poetry is one way to understand the diverse culture we live in.

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Richard Jackson is the author of 15 books of poems, most recently Broken Horizons and Out Of Place. He is the winner of Fulbright, Guggenheim, NEA, NEH, and Witter Bynner fellowships, the George Garrett AWP award, and the Slovenian Order Of Freedom for humanitarian and literary work during the Balkan Wars. He is also the author of 10 books of criticism, translation and interviews. His poems have been translated into 17 languages.


Cover art by J. D. Schraffenberger