The GMR is thrilled to announce that Stephen Cramer will be joining us as Assistant Poetry Editor. We look forward to working even more closely with Stephen. We also wanted to celebrate the publication of Stephen’s most recent book, The Disintegration Loops.
A few words from Stephen about this interesting project:
The circumstances of the title poem, though highly fictionalized, have their basis in fact. The history of the piece of music known as “The Disintegration Loops,” by composer William Basinski, bears repeating. Basinski’s creation, which was recorded on a series of audio tapes in the 1980s, was badly stored. When he rediscovered the tapes twenty years later, he went to digitize them, but as he did so they began to flake. In an inspired move, Basinski looped the tapes so that the listener would hear the same phrases over and over. But as the tapes continued to revolve, silence invaded them from the inside. By the final loop, the listener hears not the soaring music of the beginning, but an homage to loss and stillness.
The poem makes large leaps from there. The two figures in the poem, the young composer and the older composer, are purely fictional. They have nothing to do with Basinski or the actual circumstances of finding the music.
And a few more words about The Disintegration Loops:
Shakespeare took comfort in the immortality of art, but Stephen Cramer knows that is a fiction. Composer William Basinski’s decaying audio tapes allow silence to “eat its way / through the music / like moths into old silk.” Under the splendid paint of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling lies the artwork of an earlier, forgotten artist. In these poems, disintegration and loss are what make art and memory precious to us: given perfect teeth, could Coltrane have produced his “spiral of shattered notes”? It is a book of unconventional elegies: honest, dark, and very beautiful.
—Julie Kane, author of Mothers of Ireland, and former Poet Laureate of Louisiana
The poems in Stephen Cramer’s dexterous, melodic new book The Disintegration Loops are made from the music that comes from the unexpected. Coltrane’s teeth, misplaced loves, art painted on ceilings, a monk’s saffron robe: they all transform into harmonies we’ve never heard. If you didn’t know Cramer’s work before, you better sit up and listen: each of these poems is a music made out of words, a whole symphony happening from one page to the next.
—Adrian Matejka, author of Map to the Stars, and former Poet Laureate of Indiana
Oh, and poems in the collection have been in some pretty sweet journals: The American Journal of Poetry, The American Poetry Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Southern Poetry Review, and Yale Review. I mention this to distinguish the book from my more “projecty” books, such as the most recent one about hot sauce.
Anyway, if you’re interested at taking a look at this book (or at any others of mine), you can check out this page of my website, where they are all available, just a click away:
I hope you’re doing well these days, and that a few of my words will help carry you through to the end of this darn pandemic!