12- Maggie O’Sullivan

12. - Talisman to Vitalise the Heart 1988 - Maggie OSullivan - multi mixed media assemblage

Maggie O’Sullivan, Talisman to Vitalise the Heart, 1988

Maggie O’Sullivan’s books include include eXcLa with Bruce Andrews (1993), In the House of the Shaman (1996): red shifts (2001), Palace of Reptiles (2003), all origins are lonely (2003), Body of Work (2006): WATERFALLS (2009), ALTO London Poems 1975-1984 (2009), murmur – tasks of mourning (2011).  She is the editor of Out of Everywhere: an anthology of contemporary linguistically innovative poetry by women in North America and the UK (1996) and appears in various anthologies, including Poems for the Millennium, Volume 2. O’Sullivan’s CDs are her/story:eye (2004), States of Emergency (2005). The Salt Companion to Maggie O’Sullivan (2011) collects essays by contemporaries on her work.

 What do you suggest people might read or hear in advance of hearing you?

On the page:

1) 4 pages from murmur – tasks of mourning (Oct 2011)

2) 3 pages from all origins are lonely (Nov 2003)

3) 4 pages from ALTO London Poems 1975-1984 (Oct 2009) –

4) courtship of lapwings in Green Integer Review No. 6 (Dec 2006) – greeninteger.com

5) Nine London-based booklets (incl. eXcLa with Bruce Andrews) at Eclipse Archive http://eclipsearchive.org

6) Work/book Writing/Conversation – an interview by mail, November-December 2003 re: murmur – tasks of mourning and all origins are lonely with Dell Olsen in How2


1) My page at Pennsound is a primary resource for online recordings of my readings/performances. See video of my reading at the Poetry Project, New York, October 5, 2011.

2) See video (by Charles Bernstein) of my reading at The Other Room, Manchester, October 3, 2016.

Where can we find one critical (or other) response to your work that you have found provocative, interesting, insightful or generative?

‘O’Sullivan’s Medleyed Verse’ by Charles Bernstein, the preface to The Salt Companion to Maggie O’Sullivan is the most insightful general introduction to my work. This essay also forwards Body of Work and is included in Charles Bernstein’s Pitch of Poetry.

Point us towards some examples of work in other media (art/cinema/music etc) that inflect upon your work, in any way at all:

A couple of pieces by Cecilia Vicuña, whose work continually inspires my own practice.

1) Cecilia Vicuna/Spring Equinox Interview with Jonathan Skinner, 20 March 2001 which closes Jonathan Skinner’s inaugural issue of ecopoetics, winter 2001.

2) ‘Language is Migrant’ by Cecilia Vicuña, March 2016

What readings or performances most shook you up, and why?

So many, here just a few –

Bob Cobbing.

Witnessing Robert Duncan perform in London when I was about 20.

Billie Whitelaw performing Beckett’s Not I in London.

Robert Wilson’s electrifying staging of Daniil Kharm’s The Old Woman, with Mikhail Baryshnikov and Willem Dafoe in Manchester, in 2013, I think.

More recently, Charles Bernstein and Jerry Rothenberg’s performances which closed Jeffrey Robinson’s “Outside In/Inside Out” Conference, Glasgow, October 2016.  Jerry Rothenberg performed some works from his That Dada Strain – A Glass Tube Ecstasy for Hugo Ball; A Poem in Yellow after Tristan Tzara and The Holy Words of Tristan Tzara ‘to celebrate the 100th anniversary of DADA’.

Charles Bernstein’s “Outside of Tune, Inside of Time” talk/performance in response to the Conference and also to Jerry Rothenberg and John/Bloomberg-Rissman’s anthology Barbaric Vast & Wild: A Gathering of Outside & Subterranean Poetry from Origins to Present which closed with ‘Number One from Barstow: Eight Hitchhiker Inscriptions from a Highway Railing at Barstow, California’ by Harry Partch and finally, John Clare’s ‘Vowelless Letter’ (1849). Videos on Charles Bernstein and Jerry Rothenberg’s Pennsound pages. Links also on Youtube.

Tom Raworth. Randolph Healy. More recently, Tom Leonard, Trevor Joyce, Catherine Walsh, Peter Gizzi, Peter Manson.

What writing (or whose writing) is exciting you now?

So much. I gain continuous sustenance, from among others, Emily Dickinson, W. B. Yeats, John Clare, Bill Griffiths, Cecilia Vicuna, Jerry Rothenberg, Susan Howe and Charles Bernstein.

(If you want more, see Questionnaire responses in Sibila, the Brazilian journal of poetry and criticism, September 2014.

There are SO MANY imaginative artists whose work inspires me.

I return to favourites which include SHADOWTIME by Charles Bernstein, Stéphane Mallarmé The Poems in Verse Translation and Notes by Peter Manson, Tom Leonard’s translation of Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children: The Russian Avant-Garde Book 1910-1934 (MoMA, New York, 2002).

What is your writing for?  And what is it against?

You ask the work.

Ask yourself a question you’d like to answer. It could be one of these from the questionnaire in the last issue of The Little Review or anything else at all you think might be good.

‘What do you fear most from the future?’ (from The Little Review); I would like to change this question to What do you hope most from the future?

–Animals will have the rights that are theirs.

Andrew Tyler, the former director of Animal Aid, who died a year ago, is a personal hero. See Guardian obituary, https://www.theguardian.com/media/2017/may/22/andrew-tyler-obituary

See also Steven M. Wise, the American legal scholar who specialises in animal protection issues, primatology and animal intelligence. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steven_M._Wise.

See also Nonhuman Rights Project https://www.nonhumanrights.org/


Goncharova, Rabbi with Cat