Mound

by Jenni B. Baker

Microsoft Word - Jenni_Baker-Matter_Press_-_Jenni_B_Baker.docx

Jenni B. Baker is the editor-in-chief of The Found Poetry Review. Her poetry appears or is forthcoming in more than three dozen literary journals, including DIAGRAM, Washington Square, BOAAT, Nashville Review and Swarm. Her chapbook, Comings/Goings, will be released by Dancing Girl Press in 2015. In her current project, Erasing Infinite (http://www.erasinginfinite.com), she creates poetry from David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, one page at a time.

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

    As a poet working primarily in the erasure space, I spend a significant portion of my spare time browsing digitized texts on Hathi Trust, Internet Archive and Project Gutenberg. When I found Roy L. Cissna’s book Basic Sign Language buried in the results for a search query on deafness, I expected to find its pages full of disembodied hand diagrams accented by arrows and motion lines. Instead, I found a fascinating text-based dictionary describing in the imperative all the movements and gestures one must make with his or her hands to communicate each word and expression. It was too unique to pass up.

    “Mound” was born after I spotted the word “father” appear on the same page as the descriptions for signing “grave” and “grief.” In the weeks prior to discovering the text, a loved one had talked to me about the loss of his father several years ago. After the conversation, I remarked to myself how death is a type of erasure, and how memories punctuate the emptiness and void long after someone near to us dies. This poem, therefore, is dedicated to Doug.

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