Laura Mullen

"In her eighth poetry collection, which nudges the edge of memoir, Mullen excavates the past in the context of exploring the intricate relationships among experience, memory, and expression. For Mullen, “memory makes us each our own guest/(g)host,” and, in focusing on narratives that resist psychological resolution, she deploys an array of literary techniques to reveal the myriad troubled ways we inhabit our selves."
--Publishers Weekly
“Enduring Freedom [is] a galloping great read, a page-turner, and dazzles with linguistic mischief and wit... I am thrilled by it.”
----Hazel White
Murmur collects an astonishing array of stories into language as a terra incognita occasioning the uncanny and always troubled confluence of the subject, the bodies it inhabits and the linguistic remainder. Mullen animates narrative at the level of its basic semantic pulse. Never since Beckett has the unnamed been so chilling...”

--Steve McCaffery
"Solid and brave and relentlessly inventive."
--Cal Bedient
"A brilliant, utterly original, fully realized work that wickedly out-tropes horror's cliches and devices.... wonderfully immediate, making an exaggerated, rollicking introduction to many of the pre-occupations, rhetorics and methods of experimental poetry."
--Publishers Weekly
"There's a rigor and intensity in Mullen's search for truth that often take her to breathtaking lengths." --C.K. Williams // "Accuracy of spirit and ferocity of intelligence prevail...This is thrilling and exacting work." --Jorie Graham
"Laura Mullen proceeds from near void into a powerful reconstruction of self…After I Was Dead is wildly versatile formally, restlessly roving from verse to prose to epistle and back."—Boston Review

the booklog

Notebook scatter 2009 (May Dec) (mostly Dark Archive notes)

April 14, 2013

This is a book without imagination in it. Or, the only imagination in it involves a certain inventiveness with structures—a gesture toward the failure of other systems of containment (memory, etc): what is invented here marks an absence, functions as an acknowledgement of loss.

Admit failure, I wrote, start from that place…

Dedication: “ to those who, in their time of need, have been renamed” or “have been given nothing—except a sweeter name.”

Is there ANYONE here who hasn’t declared their “commitment to excellence”?! Do it now, get it over with…

The split between the page you read (this page) and my writing (2009) then typing (2013) it—the intervention of time. The secrecy of the process (I think it’s secret). These notebooks, all that time… Days of silence. Lines scrawled on a page. Avoidance and shame and pleasure repeated to dullness and the increasing pressure to “write” which is to produce some evidence of “writing.”

The method is not the subject or is it / it is shaped by

Ways we frame the world determine how we respond to it. Keep breaking the frame in search of the most fluid most present response.

Learning to listen to the quality of the mind itself—to listen for capacities and the resistance of limitations.

To learn to speak—to trust the exposed mind. To trust, and then to worry or fret about what is thrown off scattered given away—oh why not? You must… And yet and yet—what’s given away seems worthless.



To speak of (thinking of / missing Reginald Shepherd) a shared delight in and distrust of the medium. The understanding that we are breaking the flow to lock fragments into place, the knowledge that what is immortalized attains that state at a cost.

End of the day and the cat comes out (stretching) from under the bed. I’m pursuing the term “Fictive outcomes” and fictive thinking: the flex that allows us to imagine things as other than they are. How are they infected by unsteady possibility revealed as pixels in the actuality we say we see/ It could have been or should have or should have died hereafter and the space we made in which the dead person is still alive and would want his shoes (as Dideon says). Places where we feel our way to “I won’t need this” and act on that. To have found, belatedly, the software that went with the printer I gave away, well now it exists on-line anyway, always there, but in my regret in my imagination of having found it in time to pack it up with the device I seemed for a moment to be glowing, almost radioactive, I imagined myself not belated and scattered but competent and efficient and…timely. In time.

So much of what I’ve done as a writer felt like trying “to get it right.” It’s hard to articulate—at last—what I mean by “right”: compared, as the song puts it, to what? That question is The Wrong Question and it’s the one I (too often) ask: I feel my way by comparison (letter by letter, yes?)! Well who here doesn’t? But I find myself acting as if there’s a standard stoppage in place. Somewhere. To measure, to measure up.

Something I’ve said, in the past, about my process: “Self-hatred, frustration, despair—break-through.”
Now I’d need to include research and reaction.
The pen the cup of coffee (talisman) the keyboard this posture (which hurts).

Always “more than half a mind” to ask: What are you doing reading this?
(“I am no more your” author “than the cloud that…”)

The dream of secure blame like the dream of limited collateral damage the imagination that there are no innocents who suffer no civilian deaths, etc.

The dream of containment

Magical relation of book [Dark Archive] to death [my step-mother’s]—if I don’t finish it, she isn’t… then I mistake the date on the journal I’m writing in for “2004”—take it back. In 2004 I can still call her up, say “Don’t…” Failed dead-ended relationships & crazy ass notions about fate? Then sit here, quiet, until slammed into a brick…

A conceptual artist is, oddly, one for whom the roots of art in ritual linger: process matters…

Symbiopsychotaxiplasm (William Greaves)

“Is” (“real” addict) (Carol Snow conversation 5/25/09)
“Are you ready to represent the true nature of reality?” Reb Anderson
Carol Snow: “Yes, what else?”

“But we don’t understand, you filmed clouds. Why did you film clouds?” (Solaris)

“stay in the nothing” Danielle Collobert (notebooks 1956-78—translated by Norma Cole)

“I remember a structure of threads that seemed to describe his absence in my life” (note—on a dream--from another journal)

“What we call perception is not the raw given, it is informed by, formed by signs. Signs are significant only in contexts. The texts refer to other texts. The history of Egypt is the history of Egyptology.” Lingis, Abuses, p 44

Sentence from one of my journals (June 2, 2009): “I liked this day, I felt like I existed.”