An Intermittent Music 1975-2010, by Ted Pearson
Poetry. 254 pages. ISBN 9780986264092. $23.

Over the course of thirty-five years, Ted Pearson has been incrementally publishing a masterpiece, present here before us at last within the covers of this book as An Intermittent Music. He describes it as “a serial work comprising eighteen books in four movements,” and it is therefore possible to situate it alongside key serial works by poets like Jack Spicer, George Oppen, Robert Creeley, Leslie Scalapino, and Barrett Watten. As is true of work by all of these (otherwise very different) poets, the parts of An Intermittent Music resonate within an evolving dialectic, intentionally avoiding a final chord. Writing poetry that is intensely bound to both song and intellect, Pearson has been ever alert to matter in its infinite detail, to social as well as erotic desire, to liminal identities, and to the circulating systems of idiom and opinion that construct the social spaces we inhabit. This magnificent work begins almost plaintively, building to the great crescendo of its end. An Intermittent Music tracks Pearson’s ever-expanding attention to the ever-increasing associative complex that is lived experience. By the end of the book, the music is impossible and the music is everywhere, generating exquisite, ubiquitous suspense. This is a book to read avidly and over and over again.

— Lyn Hejinian

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