Friday, February 2, 2018



Images Of El Dorado by Scott MacLeod
(unpublished unique collage book, 2016)

Notes for Echo Lake 1 by Michael Palmer
(Green Integer, Los Angeles, 1992)

Images Of El Dorado by Scott MacLeod
(unpublished unique collage book, 2016)

Superprose by Thomas Lowe Taylor
(anabasis/xtant, Ocean Park, WA & Charlottesville VA, 2003)

Closing Hours from Before Recollection by Ann Lauterbach
(Princeton University Press, 1987)

Culture by Daniel Davidson
(Krupskaya, San Francisco, 2002)

Nude Memoir by Laura Moriarty
(krupskaya San Francisco, 2000]

About the Process
These poems were carved out of existing poems, some by me but mostly by others. Every word of these poems was found in the source poems, and 99% of the time I keep them in the same order, case, gender, tense, etc. as they appear in the source poems. Sometimes I dig out these words (actually usually short phrases) while I read a poem, sometimes after.

I don’t have any conscious rationale for choosing which poems to engage with in this way; usually just a four-second visual scan tells me if the source poem’s vocabulary has some resonance with “my” vocabulary. I consider this type of thing successful if my poem sounds like something I would write but also keeps some sort of connection with the source poem. I like to think I am finding a vein that has let’s say the same ‘blood type” as the source poem.

I’ve always enjoyed the challenges of working within strict limits. As a sculptor, I work almost exclusively with found objects; my two-dimensional work relies heavily on found images and collage techniques; my videos are all appropriated and edited from other videos. I prefer to think of my practice as “philentropy,” my portmanteau word meaning “the generous and thoughtful rearrangement and redistribution of matter and energy.”

Appropriation started becoming a larger influence on my writing practice in the 1990s. In 1998 I wrote a novel, Anne Frank In Jerusalem, (a sequel to The Diary of Anne Frank), composed using only short phrases appropriated from forty works by other authors, including Emily Dickinson, Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Samuel Beckett, Arthur Koestler, Walter Benjamin, the Marquis de Sade, Adolph Hitler, Karl Marx, Anna Kavan and Hannah Arendt. For that project, I selected one short phrase from every page of every source text, writing lists on yellow legal pads, one pad for each book. Then every morning, depending on my mood, I’d select four or five completed pads to work from; maybe one day it would be Anna Kavan, Flaubert, de Sade and Benjamin, for instance. I’d start scanning the phrases until three or four began to stick together in a short sequence that seemed like it might lead somewhere, write those down and start hunting for the next couple of phrases that would elaborate the emerging narrative.

I’d continue in this manner for as long as the fragile thread held together. If I was lucky I would get a full page or two out of one session. Interestingly, for me, the seemingly unlikely combination of Dickinson and Céline generated the most lucid and powerful material, while Flaubert was a disaster, as if his sentences, though perfect whole, fell to useless mundane shards when cut up.

So there was a strictly constrained vocabulary within which I had to improvise constantly in order to provoke some sort of meaning from disconnected sources. The result, which purports to be a found manuscript that seems to be a sober, meditative diary kept by Anne Frank between December 1995 and March 1996, is a dense read:

Lift it up, take it off. The wheel and the brakes. The everlasting examinations, the instrument panel and the wretchedness. The particular mood that makes chemical factories, gasworks, as if there were no such thing as a bigger prison. Tall thin windows forming a large row. Air into calm white. Still on, the cones swinging, towards the edge, rattling doorhandles along the sidewalk. Beautiful girls disappear into the shadows. Amnesiacs, ataxics, catatonics who are on their way in gasps and bursts, into the same distortion of terror. Little girls and then a chalk face, the despotic face of the fallen.

Caught, to lull yourself in a gambling and indolent network of interpretations. Too concerned with measuring its rectangle or circle to mind its exceptional need to be protected from this directness, this happiness, these half-formed incoherences, the other volumes and cavities. Threatened by something reaching forever in the intervals between journeys. Charred shell, floating still, alone, returning. No word, no stubborn device. Some ashes which yet adhere. How hollow the reconciliation upon the features of the dead, like a flower, silent. The other volumes and cavities. Lay back down into this highly-polished beginning and laboriously grow cold, grow small.  You cannot go further in life than this sentence.

The Anne Frank novel was the culmination of a growing tendency towards appropriation; after its rigors, I felt comfortable enough to use appropriated text in almost every subsequent project, and to use it more freely and inconsistently. It has since become such an integral part of how I work that I often do it just for fun. Fun that every once in awhile generates a few artifacts that other people might want to read, such as these poems collected here in Galatea Resurrects, all of which were taken from reading I was doing in 2017.

[Editor’s Note: This is the third of five monthly installments from Scott MacLeod’s series. The first is available HERE, and the second HERE.]

FASCINATION [from Images Of El Dorado by Scott MacLeod]


“allo, Paul!”
(error of identification)

“une première Paris, s’il vous plait”

vous mangerez le morceau que vouz aurez
heads, you pay elle a chanté, discovering
new attitudes of animals in motion
some of them rolled in money others
were hard up (old habits, lights)
(continue to fascinate)

donnez-moi du potage, du poisson …

a qui est cette jolie ombrelle?

vouz trouverez ici tous les livres que vous voulez

ils sont joué

I’ll cool my heels

LATE ECHO [from Notes for Echo Lake 1 by Michael Palmer]


I’m glad to see dust, coffee
red memory unspooling to edge
the woman older by a dozen
divided into silences, unwritten
reaching out for the inland sea
again and again intercepted
bending over the subject disappears

THE DARK [from Images Of El Dorado by Scott MacLeod]


every individual a potential
photographer (avoir, jouer)

this dangerous and difficult process
highly explosive, recording the sordid
human sculptures, impoverished lives
shocking and powerful blitzlichtpulver

iron poured over the surface
and the image begins to

TIMPANI [from Superprose by Thomas Lowe Taylor


you are calling out in hiding
discovery goes across, a fact
of life, enough to occupy a man
hiding for the present, down the years
or in between, what was there
into it, of it, dying out
among the restless hours
wearing down or incomplete
and still they come, the hours
it all revolves, motive expressed
unrepentant, whatever spoils
or just runs out

CLOURS [from Closing Hours from Before Recollection by Ann Lauterbach]


trace scent captures departure
nothing caresses the horizon

tied up like a bellhop in comedy
an image in a corner of an image

just there! success crowned, crows
kicks up, shoots up, explodes

smoke, dust, plumage, stench

ONE GAME [from Culture by Daniel Davidson]


hold up what happens, the lie
every time, lingering, being consumed

the frenzy tells you what is allowed
what is settling in, assembling satisfaction

design reflected, hi-res passion
that sells, shopping from the inside

imagine the transparent speech diverted
like abandoned summaries of movie plots

ghost material, with a rag-wave of flesh
stealing every face and name at the end

a distinct neglect of difference finds limits
in the reworking of memory, endlessly variable

body holding any significance weeping
press the button: another satisfied customer

empires wintering, everyone so quiet underground
living dreams, dreaming living, habit forming

NU NOIR [from Laura Moriarty Nude Memoir]


the world outside the window
is reflective, fills a frame

with pictures in her eyes
her falling body at night flung

bleeding from our life together
in another book, transient

arrive at yourself in the sum of this
shattering like the street, alive

so can’t die, feelings for others
transferrable obsession, subsumes

like captivity scraping the floor
spending the night in the open

repetition a song before crime, distracted
she takes off, doesn't miss, clings to her

vicious fiction, no scenery, no perspective
on the run, out of luck, always leaving

never enough, reading it out from an inside
shaped like a woman who never calls, has no history

no evidence of disappointment
as a woman, the projection of will

no place for a lady, as an inscription
leading from one event to another

the visible next in a developing series
of destructive situations & organized accidents

turned against themselves in random illusions
of movement, in words, she represents herself

back at him, accumulating excess meaning
from an artificial ocean, scattered fears

of others, from the foreign to the feminine
interrupting the program, generating surfaces

in her head, building something, falling
filling the room, over and over, available

information in transition, spread thin, artificial
pleasure in conscious agony, through the text
like skin unconsciously posing with this pile
of hands in a deep storage that exploded

when they found her

an imaginary room at the bottom of fear
empty of everything but action

what you see from far away
departs, astounded


Scott MacLeod has been presenting live, time-based, conceptual & static work in the San Francisco Bay Area and internationally since 1979. His installations and paintings have been widely exhibited in the Bay Area at venues including Southern Exposure, The Lab, George Lawson Gallery, and SFMOMA as well as internationally in the Czech Republic, Belgium, England, Italy and Germany. Visual arts awards include the San Francisco Art Institute’s Adaline Kent Award (2000) and a Wallace Alexander Gerbode Visual Arts Award (2001). His fiction, poetry, theater and critical writings have been widely published in the USA and abroad, and he has co-produced several international cultural exchange projects between USA, France, Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia. He lives in Oakland, California.