When I decided a few years back that I wanted to know a little about poetry, Louisa Solano, owner of the Grolier Poetry Bookshop in Cambridge, Mass., pointed me to a few anthologies and journals. When I came upon the work of Jackson Mac Low, I asked, "How could a human ever have written this?!" It seemed beyond the realm of the ways in which the human mind could experience (and so produce works of) words. Of course what Jackson was doing was showing us new ways of working with language and the potential of the mind in experience with/in language, and by extension with/in experience.
More than anything else, Jackson's work propelled me to investigate the language arts. As I continue to read his work, I am aware, whatever the form, of the thread of quiet direct attention particular to Jackson.
In 2002, I had the idea of starting a poetry/multimedia series. Chief among the reasons was the desire to give the Boston area a chance to experience Jackson's work. He had never read here! Later that year I think it was, at the Poetry Project at Saint Mark's Church on the Bowery, my husband and I were enchanted by a work of voiced phonemes performed by Jackson and Anne Tardos, who composed the piece. We were not familiar with her work. That night we decided to also invite Anne to read at our series, Demolicious, at the Green Street Grill in Cambridge.
They read on Sunday June 6, 2004. A few readings from that afternoon are on this site. The day after their reading, Jackson and Anne headed back to New York. The poem I wrote that day for Jackson, one of the few I have written, as Jackson might say, "directly," is below.
I'd like to thank Tim Peterson, editor of EOAGH, for the invitation to participate as co-editor of this tribute.
A few words from Jackson's postscript to Oh, Tongue, by Simone Forti: "Let experience happen. Opinion isn't all that important. The being of a work and your experience of it are."