The Recovery of Language: Michael Palmer in Conversation

SR: You do a lot with repetition and variation, within and between poems, and within and between books. You seem to be teasing out all of the different ways that that can add to and support your project.

MP: Recurrence and variation have fascinated me since I first read Gertrude Stein as a very young person. Or perhaps I should say: since I first heard nursery rhymes and incantations as an even younger person. Likeness and difference and their dance—isn’t that the ground of the poetic project and our signifying capacity? And metaphor: a thing in terms of another thing, a bearing across between a one and “an other,” or self and other.

SR: Or between the self that I am in this moment and the self that I am in the next moment. ….At different times repetition and variation seem to operate in your work as translation, jazz, conversation, and a stutter.

MP: It’s interesting that you bring up the stutter because my earlier work talks about the poet’s and the philosopher’s stutter: the stutter of the effort of articulation, which is part of the articulation. You hear it—the stutter or the hesitation, they’re part pf the same thing—if you listen to a Gilles Deleuze or a Jacques Derrida speaking—improvising philosophy. You may also see it in the improvisational steps Wittgenstein takes in his work toward whatever goal is there, letting the fly out of the bottle, let’s say.

via The Recovery of Language: Michael Palmer in Conversation