Before

by Jaydn DeWald

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Jaydn DeWald serves as Senior Poetry Editor for Silk Road Review, and his own work has appeared or is forthcoming in Barn Owl Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Columbia Poetry Review, Fairy Tale Review, The National Poetry Review, West Branch, Witness, and many others. He currently lives with his wife and daughter in Athens, Georgia, where he’s pursuing a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Georgia.

What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “Before”?

    “Before” is part of a series of prose pieces, each of which takes as its engine of composition a single word—in this instance, “space.” These pieces allow me to explore the flexibility and mutability of words as material, like wood, and to stretch the work’s capacity for leaping.

    Hitchcock used to appear as an extra in each of his films. But later, when he realized that his audience was inspecting every scene, essentially removing themselves (in order to spot him) from the drama of the story, he began to appear within the first few minutes. “Before” is quite the opposite—it makes Hitchcock, so to speak, an extra in every scene. The continual appearance of the word “space” becomes, in other words, a distracting game that facilitates unusual movement: the rest of the language can travel more freely and yet remain, however tenuously, connected.

    The Delany epigraph (from Dhalgren) plays on the erotic shifts in pronouns: “. . . in this spaceless preserve where any slippage can occur . . .”

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