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Annotated Bibliography for Jessica Smith

Amanda Noori, Rachael Solano, Nidale Zouhir
AP Literature, Malden High School, MA
Ryan Gallagher

20 Feb. 2011


Smith, Jessica. Organic Furniture Cellar: Works on Paper, 2002-2004. Lowell, Massachusetts: Outside Voices, 2004. Print.

Organic Furniture Cellar is a book of poetry that rejects standard conventions of structure in favor of what Smith calls “plastic poetry” (Smith 11) that allows the reader to interpret a “multi-linear” (Smith 13) poem in multiple divergent paths. Smith’s foreword focuses on this “plastic poetry,” defining the term and explaining Smith’s motives for using it. Smith relies not only on the rejection of this structure to form her poet, but also writes in different languages at times, often creating poetry with more graphic elements that add to its meaning.

“A building is no longer a dwelling-space, but a site of reciprocal becoming” (Smith 11).

“Plastic arts reveal the co-implication of these categories by demanding that the subject change her use of the her environment, thus introducing a dimension of temporal succession along with that of spatial simultaneity” (Smith 11).

“These poems respond to a preexistent topographical space as well as to existing syntactical structures in the reader’s mind” (Smith 12).

“With plastic poetry, I want to change the reading space in such a way that the one who reads is forced to make amends for new structures in his or her virtual path” (Smith 12).

----  bird-book. Jessica Smith, Print.

In comparison to the other two “chapbooks” by Smith, this is the most stylistically similar to Organic Furniture Cellar.  In bird-book, Smith combines both the unorthodox and narrative styles of poetry she writes.  She creates a balance in her arrangement by incorporating both opposite styles of poetry and writing.  Smith also includes more intentional punctuation in this source.  She frequently resorts to using a variety of punctuation marks in order to change the inflection and appearance of her poems.  This source is especially important from a researching perspective as this is a balance of two contrasting styles of poetry.  In bird-book, Smith’s poetic style is a good basis for analysis, comparison and examination with her other poems.

----  Butterflies Short Poems. Jessica Smith, 2005. Print.

This source is another “chapbook” by Smith.  The poems included have a directional narrative contrast to some of Smith’s other works.  Aesthetically speaking, the poems in Butterflies Small Poems by Jessica Smith seem to be written in a generally vertical direction.  The words in each line are ordered to be read both vertically and horizontally, but mostly vertically.  The reason for this writing technique is not given, though Smith keeps some of her poetic arrangement that is seen in other publications.  This source can be used as a reference point in comparison to some of Smith’s other works.  Since Smith is a visual poet, it is important to see how she interprets poetry and expects her audience to view her writing.

---- What the Fortune-Teller Said. Jessica Smith, 2008. Print.   

In this source, Smith takes on a new stylistic approach to her poetry.  Here, as in most of her “chapbooks”, a new type of narrative can be seen in the poems.  Rather than a distant and unnoticed narrator, the characters in the poems of “What the Fortune-Teller Said” have a distinct narrator voice and characters.  Most of these poems have a plot and can be read along with the other poems provided or individually.  In “What the Fortune-Teller Said” there is a repeated title and poetic theme titled “The Ring”.  Several poems and parts of poetry are named after this title.  Each of the poems can be read in relation to the previous but, as always, it can be interpreted in any way.  This source can be used alongside Organic Furniture Cellar but as a separate source for a publication by Smith.  It can be used to analyze her different poetic styles.

Selected Blog Posts

Smith, Jessica. Looktouchblog. 19 Jan. 2010 - 26 July 2010. Web log. 9 Jan. 2011.

Smith’s Wordpress blog is where she expresses nearly everything; on this blog, she discusses perfume, her relationships, her love for various social networking websites, and, of course, her poetry and the varied responses to it. Smith’s blog posts can be used to provide insight into her character and perspective, as well as give context to her poetry. Because of the nature of blogging, the posts also show the development of her mindset over the months during which she posted.

---- “A Successful Failure.” 6 May 2010. Web. 13 Jan. 2011.

This is one of Smith’s shorter blog posts; in it, she explains a task that she has recently undertaken: to list contemporary female poets in an effort to disprove the notion that “there aren’t any women writing poetry” or that “female poets are hard to find” (Smith par. 4). In fact, she goes as far as to state that far from not existing, women writing poetry are “ubiquitous” – that “there are so many women writing poetry today, in English, and publishing it, that it’s impossible to record them all” (par. 3).

---- “Corresponding Juvenilia: 1993-1995.” 23 June 2010. Web. 13 Jan. 2011.

This blog post describes Smith’s 8th and 9th grade writing and reading habits because she thinks “it’s interesting to see how what one reads affects what one writes” (Smith par. 1). She explains that as a junior high schooler, she “strove to write [her] world as it appeared to [her]” (par. 1). Smith says that she wrote multiple poems almost every day, going on to enter them in contests to try to get herself published. Despite succeeding at this multiple times, she found herself to be “a relatively rigid critic of [her] own work, and few of the poems [she] wrote made it into the word processor or got sent out” (Smith par. 2). Smith then goes on to provide examples of her poetry from the 8th and 9th grades, including “Red Mountain,” which she calls her “coming-of-age poem” and as “the culminating moment of my entire Junior High poetics” (par. 7).

---- “Hiroshima Mon Amour.” 20 May 2010. Web. 13 Jan. 2011.

This post is a eulogy for the architect Arakawa, who Smith references throughout the essay at the beginning of Organic Furniture Cellar. She describes her first meeting with Arakawa and his partner Madeline Gins, in the late 90s or early 2000s when she was “in love with their work” (Smith par. 1). Smith also describes her surprise at learning of Arakawa’s belief “that mortal life is inherently immoral, and that to be ethical, one has to at the same time pursue immortality – and how absolutely, how literally they believed that ethicality and immortality could be achieved by living in certain kinds of architectural spaces” (Smith par. 2). Smith goes on to state that while she agrees with the fundamental aspects of Arakawa’s theory – that architecture is inherently related to mortality and morality – she believes that “architecture creates neither morality nor immortality, because at the end of the day, bodies and architecture are extricable and one lasts longer than the other. Bodies are mortal; they wear out” (par. 4).

---- "The Silenced Generation." 28 July 2010. Web. 10 Jan. 2011.

This blog post is a reply to Ron Silliman, who reviewed Smith’s Organic Furniture Cellar. Smith, though partially pleased that Silliman reviewed her book because his website is popular and will almost definitely cause more books to sell and praises Silliman for “[trying] to assemble and disperse information about poetry” (Smith par. 2), is angry with Silliman’s comment boxes. Smith dislikes the tone of commenters so vehemently that she feels herself beginning to “disengage with the poetry community” as a result of what she likens to cyber-bullying (par. 4). Smith also defends other poets who were similarly bashed by commenters on Silliman’s blog, going on to express her appreciation for independent publishers, stating that she “cannot stress enough how important chapbook and zine publishers are to the growth of experimental writing and how much time, money, and effort” (par. 5) they spend on publishing.

 ---- "Why I Use Twitter." 26 July 2010. Web. 10 Jan. 2011.

In this post, Smith explains her love for Twitter and social networking in general, which she uses to “blow off steam” (par. 3) (on her private Twitter account) as well as to “engage in poetry discussions” (par. 4) and “talk politics” (par. 4) (on her public one). In the comments, Smith expresses that she feels that Twitter can be a form of poetry beyond the traditional, which serves to reinforce her love for nontraditional poetry as far as self-expression goes.  

--- “Women In Poetry (Again).” 19 Jan. 2010. Web. 28 Jan. 2011.

In this post, Smith expresses slight surprise at the “controversial” (par. 1) reception of her magazine, Foursquare, which only accepts work from female poets. She goes on to state that she believes that “most of the great poets writing today are women” (par. 2), specifically because “poetry as an art of using words for things other than self-expression” (par. 2) is something she attributes uniquely to female-written poetry. Smith also laments that “even in our supposedly progressive country,” women are taught to “shut up,” but, Smith believes, “that is not necessarily what women ought to do” (par. 3). In the end, Smith advises women to “have confidence in [their] work and reflect on why [they] may be shy about sending [their] poetry out into the world” (par. 4). Smith also states that she finds the discussion of women in poetry an essential one because “there is still a lot to say about the politics of experimental poetry and whether and how it might change the politics of everyday life” (par. 5).

“The work that resonates with me both says things in a new way and has something new to say” (par. 2).

“We could also discuss why so many experimental poets are white upper-class people (male or female)” (par. 5).

Biography and Poetics

Davis, Jeff. "Jessica02." Flickr. 5 Nov. 2007. Web. 16 Feb. 2011.

    A photograph of Jessica Smith holding a book.

"Friday Headline Event: Urban Village Arts Series (UVAS)." Massachusetts Poetry Festival (16  Oct. 2009). Scribd. Web. 6 Jan. 2011.

The biography describes Smith’s journey as the Founding Editor of the poetry magazine name. As well, Smith holds a part-time role as editor for the women’s broadzine, Foursquare, which was “on view at the Handmade/Homemade exhibit of small press publishing” (UVAS par. 4). She has also had  her literary work translated into various languages, including Turkish, Swedish, Icelandic and Danish. This source can be used as a supplemental material for Smith’s biography, especially in terms of her educational experience.

"Jessica Smith (Author of Organic Furniture Cellar)." Goodreads. 2008. Web. 6 Jan. 2011.

This is a biographic piece from 2008 on the life of Smith after the publishing of Organic Furniture Cellar.  She “currently resides in Brooklyn where she edits Outside Voices, an umbrella for Outside Voices Books, Take-Home Project Chapbooks, the 2008 Anthology of Younger Poets, and Foursquare magazine” (Goodreads). This source can be used for the backstory about Smith’s life and writings that it contains. It also lists Smith’s various publications, going beyond her poetry and including broadzines and a paper she wrote for graduate school. Goodreads also provides information about what Smith has been reading, which can help illuminate various aspects of her personality as well as point out some books that may have influenced her writing.

"Jessica Smith: Bio." Rooftop Poetry Club. Buffalo State State University of New York. Web. 6 Jan. 2011.

This is a biographical piece that focuses on Smith’s literary works, as well as the number of foreign translations that have been made for them. While Smith hails from Birmingham, Alabama, she attended educational institution SUNY Buffalo for her B.A. and M.A. Her education has continued into the present day, as she works towards her Master of Library Science degree at the school. During her spare time, Smith taught writing at the school, as well as at Medaille College. Aside from her professional teaching career, Smith is notable as an up-and-coming poet on the literary scene. In fact, since 2001, her work has been published in “dozens of magazines including apocryphaltext, Cannibal, dANDelion, ecopoetics, Ferrum Wheel, Filling Station, ixnay, Phoebe, Small Press Traffic, and WOMB, as well as in three anthologies” (“Jessica Smith: Bio” par. 2).This source can be used an additional piece that details Smith’s literary publications and her educational career.

"Jessica Smith: Virginia." House Press. Web. 6 Jan. 2011.

This is a brief biographical piece that covers Smith’s time at SUNY Buffalo, while focusing heavily on the various degrees she has received at her alma mater. It provides more detail about her education in poetry than other sources, stating that Smith “participated in the Poetics Program and started the poetry magazine name.” This includes a an M.A. in Comparative Literature from SUNY Buffalo. The article also divulges the fact that she received her B.A. “summa cum laude in English and Comparative Literature” and was a Ph.D student in English at UVA. Information is also given on which notable literary publications have showcased her work. These publications include: Drill, Ferrum Wheel, OEI, American Weddings, and Filling Station. Independently, she plans to release-and has released-the chapbooks, bird-book (House Press), The Plasticity of Poetry and Telling Time (No Press), and Shifting Landscapes (above/ground press). This piece also documents the future plans for the book, Organic Furniture Cellar and its publication. This source can be used to supplement information about Smith’s various college degrees. However, the source is also about the publication of Organic Furniture Cellar, showing its dated  information.

"Jessica Smith : Visualize Poetry ; Univ. of Buffalo." Dead Poets Society of America - Leaves of Bark. 7 Nov. 2009. Web. 6 Jan. 2011.

This short biography on Smith details her educational accomplishments – that she is originally from Birmingham, that she received her BA summa cum laude in English and Comparative Literature from SUNY Buffalo, and that she received her MA in Comparative Literature from SUNY Buffalo. It also lists the places that Smith has had her work published, which include the Swedish OEI and the Turkish Zinhar. This source is not really quotable; it can only be used for bare-minimum information regarding Smith’s education and publications.

"Jessica Smith Reading in Durham." YouTube. Oct. 2007. Web. 10 Jan. 2011.

Smith begins this reading seeming subdued, but quickly familiarizes herself with the audience, making it laugh several times before reading “Ithaca.” This reading makes it clear that even in Smith’s head, the poetry is not structured the way “traditional” poetry is structured. Once Smith finishes her reading, she returns to joking with her audience. This particular video could be used to showcase Smith’s personality outside of her writing; the contrast between what seems like a fairly serious tone in most of her writing and the joke-cracking woman in the video very distinctly separates Smith the Person from Smith the Writer. The poetry in these videos is not necessarily quotable, mostly because without the letters written on the page, Smith’s poetry tends to lose a lot of what makes it so interesting -- specifically the different paths the reader can take while reading said poetry.


Gardner, Susana. "ORGANIC FURNITURE CELLAR by JESSICA SMITH." Rev. of Organic Furniture Cellar. Galatea Resurrection 4. 29 Nov. 2006. Web. 6 Jan. 2011.

Blogger Susana Gardner comments on what she believes was Smith’s thought process while writing the various poems that appeared in her book, Organic Furniture Cellar. Gardner compares the book to the physical structure of a house, writing, “the house is on the foundation in which of course is the cellar, the base of the structure”(Gardner par. 1). Gardner comments that readers can interpret Smith’s writing in her poems in whichever ways they want, depending on which meanings they wish to derive from them. She then deems Exile the strongest section of poetry within the book, “in terms of shape, form and plasticity” (Gardner par. 1). This source can be used as a reviewer’s positive interpretation of Smith’s work, and the manner in which it can be manipulated for the reader’s pleasure.

Lowinger, Aaron. “A FEW WORDS ON ORGANIC FURNITURE CELLAR.” Rev. of Organic Furniture Cellar. House Press Newsletter. Oct. 2006. Web. 1 February 2011.

This review describes Smith more as a “draftswoman with her blueprint” (par. 1) than as a poet, stating that “her nomenclatural twist on the near mystical poetic objective of infusing language with as much (possible) meaning as (possibly) fits” (par. 1), especially when one considers her “rudition and meticulous accounting for detail” (par. 1). Lowinger also analyzes the shape of Smith’s book, explaining that because of its dimensions, it allows for plenty of space, therefore creating a large canvas for her poetry (par. 2). Lowinger relates Smith to Charles Olson, Robert Duncan, and Robert Creeley, all of whom he says “[experiment] with the interaction of form and content in such a way that the poet views the page as a painter would a canvas” (par. 3). Lowinger praises the emotions Smith creates through both form and diction, emphasizing that for her poetry, form is at least as important as diction, if not more so.

“The plastic quality of the poems allow the reader to freely enter their sonic and semantic field, a veritable choose-your-own-adventure that allows the poems to be distinct and emotionally aware moments of experience” (par. 3).

“The poetic child magic (“islands named for a prince”) which the poet summons at times, a truly awkward nostalgia, weakens the knees” (par. 3).

“There is a joy and absolute newness in Ms Smith’s first book that promises to open up entirely new fields in the landscape of poetry as we know it” (par. 4).


McClennan, Rob. "Jessica Smith's Organic Furniture Cellar: Works on Paper 2002 - 2004." Rev. of Organic Furniture Cellar. Rob Mclennan's Blog. 26 Aug. 2006. Web. 6 Jan. 2011.

This review of Smith praises her for her understanding of structure and architecture, “of the shapes and spaces possible on the page” (McClennan par. 1). McClennan calls Smith’s work a “deliberate splatter and splash...expanding what a poem can actually do in what is otherwise made into a very confined space” (par. 2). McClennan quotes Smith’s foreword as evidence of her understanding of structure. This assessment of Smith echoes the tone of the essay in the foreword of Organic Furniture Cellar, and is therefore highly usable in descriptions of Smith’s style of writing as well as of her intent as a poet.

McSweeney, Joyelle. "Organic Furniture Cellar: Works on Paper, 2002-2004." Rev. of “The Plasticity of Poetry.” The Constant Critic. 16 Sept. 2006. Web. 6 Jan. 2011.

This review was mostly about the beginning pages of Organic Furniture Cellar. McSweeney begins by describing the conflict between Smith and the commenters on Ron Silliman’s blog, sarcastically calling the commenters “protectors of poetry” (par. 1). McSweeney praises Smith’s work for the essay about plastic poetry, which McSweeney feels “raises interesting questions and exposes still more interesting flaws” (par. 3). McSweeney adds that she thinks it is “a good thing when poets take the time to actually think about and try to theorize what they’re doing” (McSweeney par. 17). This outlook on Smith’s essay allows the reader to see how essential it often is for a poet to explain her process and mindset going into poetry in order to allow the reader to find meaning in what she might otherwise think are just letters thrown randomly onto a page.

"Organic Furniture Cellar: Works on Paper 2002-2004 - Jessica Smith: Small Press Distribution." Small Press Distribution. Web. 6 Jan. 2011.

In this source, Smith’s Organic Furniture Cellar is being advertised to the general public to be sold. The blurb of the book consists of quotes on the book, such as: “These poetic constellations are places to inhabit and shifting possibilities for meaning. Smith rounds every corner with another corner. Organic Furniture Cellar is the future in a now--Charles Bernstein” (par. 1) and “Jessica Smith refuses to write like lyric poets, who merely rearrange the furniture of language in their rooms; instead, she makes her language skid 'every which way' like an office chair kicked across a parquet floor--Christian Bok” (par. 1). On the bottom half of the source, a biography of Smith is provided.  This source can be used as a reference for information about Smith’s life, education and career.  It can be further analysed through the specific people who reviewed Organic Furniture Cellar and their relationships with Smith.  

Peverett, Michael. "Jessica Smith, Organic Furniture Cellar." Rev. of Organic Furniture Cellar. Intercapillary Space. 2006. Web. 6 Jan. 2011.

Michael Peverett comments on both the arrangement and the style of Organic Furniture Cellar.  He writes: “In these poems Smith is riding an unstable equilibrium between something that can be more or less read (though not necessarily top-down, left-to-right), and something that is looked at in the more apparently simultaneous way that we receive a visual; something we can then examine, but our examination doesn't have a particular start or finish to it” (par. 5).  In the review as a whole, Peverett praises Smith and how she uses her poetic skills to create an aesthetic balance on the page.  The source can be used as insight to how Smith is creating meaning through her poetry rather than just a focused essay on only her arrangement and style.

Silliman, Ron. Rev. of Organic Furniture Cellar. Silliman's Blog. 14 Aug. 2006. Web. 6 Jan. 2011.

This is a review of Smith’s book, Organic Furniture Cellar. Blogger Ron Silliman praises the “ambition” (par. 1) that he feels Smith has put into her first work. He also contemplates whether the role of Smith’s readers is much larger than one might expect for readers. Silliman concludes that the responsibility that is taken for the poems within Smith’s text determines how well they “work” (par. 2). He argues that the success of such a text comes revolves around “how much responsibility you want the author to hold onto, how much you yourself are willing to take on, and whether that matters” (par. 8). Silliman decides that, ultimately, OFC is not the “revolution” (par. 11) that Smith would want to “televise” (par. 11) to her audience, and will be eagerly awaiting Smith’s next publication. This source can be used to chronicle a reviewer’s interpretation of Smith’s work ethic and creative process, and whether her work will be understandable off the page for the reader.

Tucker, Aaron. "Organic Furniture Cellar Review." Rev. of Organic Furniture Cellar. Vallum Magazine. 2011. Web. 6 Jan. 2011. 

Like most other positive reviews of Organic Furniture Cellar, this one praises Smith for her use of structure, specifically for the way her writing forces readers to leave more conventional reading patterns (most obviously the “resistance of the traditional left-to-right reading style” (Tucker par. 2) behind. Tucker explains that Smith’s style of poetry leaves nearly all of up for multiple interpretations, “making the meaning of the poem about the process of choice and reading” (par. 2). This encourages the creation of “poems that emerge as natural, organic, growths of human spontaneity and collision” (Tucker par. 3). Tucker’s analysis of Smith’s poetry could be used to supplement our own analyses; his assessments of Smith’s rejection of traditional reading patterns seem spot-on.

“Smith provides a set of well mapped rooms, populating them with carefully placed of furniture” (par. 4).

“This is a poetics extremely sophisticated in design, difficult to theorize and even harder to actually accomplish” (par. 4).

Organic is a text that requires more out of a reader than simply translating from page to mind. This work demands an active and constructive reader to build the cautious and sparse phrases into a set of unique meanings” (par. 1).


Greenstreet, Kate. "Every Other Day." Kickingwind. 5 Sept. 2006. Web. 6 Jan. 2011.

This is an interview with Smith about the publishing of her first book, Organic Furniture Cellar. She speaks of how her life has changed since the publishing of her book.  She noted “I'm glad I made the choice to self-publish. I like the way the book looks. But no, I would not recommend self-publishing to other poets. First, I've gotten a lot of flack about how self-publishing isn't legitimate. It makes me want to yell at people, ‘Try actually reading the book!’” (Greenstreet par. 5) She speaks on both her life and the self-published aspect of her book by saying “I quite simply feel that I've done something worthwhile. This is a pretty rare feeling for me. I do lots of ‘good’ things but they just drop with an echo into a big abyss where my self-esteem should be. It's different with OFC. I feel like it puts a bottom in the abyss. If I have nothing else, I have this. It's pretty empowering to have a book and to know that one can self-publish.” (par. 6). This interview can be seen as a reflection on Smith’s personality and attitude.  

Kalayeh, Pirooz M."Interview with Jessica Smith: August 1-3, 2006." Shikow. 2 Aug. 2006. Web. 6 Jan. 2011.

Smith speaks about her childhood during an interview. She relays how she first became involved with writing, specifically poetry and short stories. She mentions her grandmother as an influence, with her death having a specifically harsh impact on her life as an adolescent. Also, Smith speaks of her school life before college, how she found solace in “a group of other misfits, one of whom is still” (sec. 3) one of her closest friends.  This source can be used to further analyze Smith, her peers and her poetry.  It is an inside look into her childhood influences.

Smith, Jessica. E-mail interview with Amanda Noori, Rachael Solano, Nidale Zouhir. 11 January 2011.

In this interview, Smith reveals various aspects of her personality through her detailed responses to our group’s questions. She explains her feelings on Twitter, specifically that it is a way of “interacting with other poets.” She states that although she does not specifically set out to write poetry on Twitter, “everything one does as a poet is a kind of poetry (poetry is not just the poem on the page, but a way of life).” Smith adds that within her own poetry (and poetry in general), “There are only so many rules you can break before you get somewhere else, but you're always somewhere.” In poetry, Smith likes “to be emotionally challenged-- for a poem to describe feelings or thoughts that seem to put the poet's inner self on the line, to take a risk that allows me to connect to my own deeper feelings.” Smith also lists several of her influences, specifically jazz musicians.

“When one rebels from one structure, one simply falls into another structure.  It's like what Descartes says about dreaming-- although one's mind makes up many fantastical situations in dreams, they never depart from some known reality.”


Arakawa, and Madeline Gins. “We Have Decided Not to Die.” Digital image. Architecture Against Death. Web. 16 Feb. 2011.


Bernstein, Fred A. "A House Not for Mere Mortals." The New York Times 3 Apr. 2008. Web. 13 Jan. 2011.

This article describes Arakawa’s architecture, which is so unique that “adults are asked to sign a waiver when they enter” (Bernstein par. 1). Bernstein describes Arakawa as an eccentric artist, one who makes houses with floors that rise and fall “like the surface of a vast, bumpy chocolate chip cookie” (Bernstein par. 1). Bernstein quotes Arakawa as comparing himself to Neil Armstrong, and his wife, Madeline Gins, as believing that “architecture makes people use their bodies in unexpected ways to maintain equilibrium, and that...will stimulate their immune systems” (par. 3). Bernstein also describes Gins and Arakawa’s beliefs about the immorality of death. For this article, Bernstein interviewed Don Ihde, a professor at Stony Brook University, who praises the couple because their architecture “makes people think through what they wouldn’t normally think through” (Bernstein par. 3). Arakawa comes off as a bit arrogant in this article, at one point stating that he believes he and his wife should win a Nobel Prize; his wife, on the other hand, seems to be the voice of reason in their relationship. This article could be used to supplement Smith’s “Plastic Poetry,” which discusses Arakawa’s ideas about architecture. This article goes a little more in-depth regarding such ideas, emphasizing the reasoning that Arakawa and his wife have behind all of their creations.

---- "Arakawa, Whose Art Tried to Halt Aging, Dies at 73." The New York Times 20 May 2010. Web. 13 Jan. 2011.

This article is an obituary for Arakawa, written, notably, not by a regular obituary writer but by Fred Bernstein, who wrote the previous article about Arakawa that was published The New York Times. Arakawa died after being hospitalized for a week, though his wife did not give details about his exact cause of death. Bernstein describes the couple’s work, which revolved around “[leading] its users into a perpetually ‘tentative’ relationship with their surroundings, and thereby [keeping] them young” (Bernstein par. 5). Bernstein also describes the beginnings of Arakawa’s life; born in Nagoya, Japan, Arakawa moved to Tokyo to pursue an education in art before moving to New York and meeting Gins. The two invested in Bernard Madoff in the 1990s, which eventually led to the couple having to close their office. To end the article, Bernstein quotes Gins as saying, “It’s immoral...that people have to die” (par. 20). This article could be used to supplement Smith’s blog about Arakawa’s death. Like Bernstein’s other article about Arakawa, this one provides valuable backstory, developing his unorthodox ideas about life and death.

John Cage: About the Composer." PBS. 1 Aug. 2001. Web. 13 Jan. 2011.

This is a biographical piece on musician John Cage.  Smith relayed that she enjoyed listening to his music when she began to write poetry seriously, around her late years of high school. The article has information on Cage, including his career as a struggling musician upon realizing “that the music he wanted to make was radically different from the music of his time” (“John Cage: About the Composer” par. 3). The article mentions other artists, such as Merce Cunningham (a dancer) and Robert Rauschenberg (a painter) who are often associated with Cage. Like other supplemental pieces, this can be used to further research an early inspiration of Smith’s.  

John Cage Sonata V.” Youtube - Broadcast Yourself. Aug. 2007. Web. 16 Feb. 2011.

John Coltrane live.Youtube - Broadcast Yourself. June 2006. Web. 16 Feb. 2011.

"Jonathan Safran Foer." Wikipedia. Web. 6 Jan. 2011.

This article chronicles the early life, career, personal life, awards, criticism, and works of author Jonathan Safran Foer, whose writing style and various novels have influenced Smith’s own writing. The article details the mentality held during his childhood, described bluntly as having been restless and desperate to “be outside of his own skin” (“Jonathan Safran Foer” par. 1) His professional career is described as having thrived once he enrolled in an introductory writing course in college, taught by famed author Joyce Carol Oates. At that point, Foer felt compelled to write seriously, allowing him to publish his senior thesis, which eventually became his first novel, Everything Is Illuminated. In his personal life, Foer is described as an “occasional vegetarian” (“Jonathan Safran Foer” par. 8), living in Brooklyn, New York with his family.This source can be used to describe an inspiration for Smith, and how she has manipulated his own writing style and choice of content in order to suit her own sensibilities.

Montiglio, Silvia. "'My Soul, Consider What You Should Do': Psychological Conflicts and Moral Goodness in the Greek Novels. - Free Online Library." Free News, Magazines, Newspapers, Journals, Reference Articles and Classic Books - Free Online Library. 1 Jan. 2010. Web. 10 Jan. 2011.

This essay discusses the psychological conflicts in Greek literature such as Homer’s The Odyssey. Specifically, the essay analyzes the moral compasses -- or lacks thereof -- in Greek literature, which often details a character who maintains “philosophical self-restraint” (Montiglio par. 16) only until he succumbs to the “temptation of tyrannical license” (Montiglio par. 16). The article focuses on temptation and its psychological consequences, both in Greek literature and in real life. This source can be used to add background to Smith’s allusions to The Odyssey, though she says a basic understanding of the story is enough; having more analysis of the epic poem should help provide an added layer of meaning to the story that would be otherwise lost on people who know the basic story of The Odyssey but have never read it.

Nowak, Jeff, and Allen B. Ruch. "Kafka Biography." The Modern World. 22 Jan. 2004. Web. 6 Jan. 2011.

This is a biographical article about the early life and professional writing career of existentialist writer, Franz Kafka. Detailing his tumultuous early life, the article describes the author’s father as controlling and tyrannical. That fact, coupled with the fact that Kafka had to come of age in Prague, a city that had lost its cultural identity and had befallen social discord, led him to take to his writing in an effort to escape his dismal surroundings. Propelled by the “desire to escape”(Nowak par. 8), Kafka enrolled in the German University in Prague, studying law. He began to work on a novel entitled, The Child and the City, but soon abandoned the project. After finishing his school exams and becoming an Official Doctor of the Law, Kafka “secured a job at the Workers’ Accident Insurance Institute, an organization run in part by the Austrian government” (Nowak par. 22). Kafka didn’t enjoy the position, but the extra time that it provided him with allowed him to write more. In November 1912, Kafka began writing The Metamorphosis, a novel that features traveling salesman Gregor Samsa, “who wakes up one morning to find himself transformed into a giant bug” (Nowak par. 30). Kafka’s health soon declined, and he retreated to the seaside resort of Muritz in Palestine, meeting a vibrant summer camp counsellor, Dora Diamant, who eventually became his companion and lover. Diamant took care of the ailing author until his death in 1924. This source details another inspiration of Smith, one that is much darker in tone and content, and is derived from an earlier stage in literary history.

Olson, Charles. "Maximus to Gloucester, Letter 27 [withheld] by Charles Olson." The Poetry Foundation. Web. 16 Feb. 2011.

---- "Projective Verse." The Poetry Foundation. 1950. Web. 13 Feb. 2011.

Olson’s essay, “Projective Verse,” discusses his ideas of “composition by field” through “projective” or open verse. This essay discusses “certain laws and possibilities of the breath, of the breathing of the man who writes as well as of his listenings.” Olson also rejects poetic form and measure, stressing “the transference of poetic energy” from source to poem to reader.

“A poem is energy transferred from where the poet got it (he will have some several causations), by way of the poem itself to, all the way over to, the reader. Okay. Then the poem itself must, at all points, be a high-energy construct and, at all points, an energy-discharge” (Olson par. 5).


“And if you also set up as a poet, USE USE USE the process at all points, in any given poem always, always one perception must must must MOVE, INSTANTER, ON ANOTHER!” (Olson par. 9)

“It is by their syllables that words juxtapose in beauty, by these particles of sound as clearly as by the sense of the words which they compose. In any given instance, because there is a choice of words, the choice, if a man is in there, will be, spontaneously, the obedience of his ear to the syllables” (Olson par. 13).

“It would do no harm, as an act of correction to both prose and verse as now written, if both rime and meter, and, in the quantity words, both sense and sound, were less in the forefront of the mind than the syllable, if the syllable, that fine creature, were more allowed to lead the harmony on” (Olson par. 14).

"PBS - JAZZ A Film By Ken Burns: Selected Artist Biography - John Coltrane." PBS: Public Broadcasting Service. Web. 14 Feb. 2011.

This site has a few samples of John Coltrane’s music, which is sonically pleasing and different from other jazz, not only in its originality but also in its amazingly varied use of musical instruments. The site also features a short biography of John Coltrane, praising him as “the most revolutionary and widely imitated saxophonist in jazz” who eventually “leaped to fame in Miles Davis' quintet with Red Garland, Paul Chambers, and Philly Joe Jones (1955-57)” (par. 1). Coltrane faced adversity during his career, which was disrupted by “drugs and alcoholism” that he overcame “after leaving Davis” and created “his album A Love Supreme, [which] celebrated this victory and the profound religious experience associated with it” (par. 2). After Davis, “Coltrane turned to increasingly radical musical styles in the mid-1960s. These controversial experiments attracted large audiences...From autumn 1965 his search for new sounds resulted in frequent changes of personnel in his group” (par. 4).

Striffler, Eric. Madeline Gins and Arakawa's East Hampton House. Digital image. The New York Times. 3 Apr. 2008. Web. 31 Jan. 2011.

This is an image of a house built by one of Smith’s strongest influences, at least in terms of architecture. This particular image was built by Madeline Gins and Arakawa and for Madeline Gins and Arakawa. It depicts a room with a floor that is not at all flat, instead resembling sand dunes. The home is very brightly lit from the inside, but there are none of what one expects from a home – perpendicular or parallel lines, squares or rectangles or even circles. Instead, even the furniture forces the user to use some level of creativity. It is obvious how much Arakawa influenced Smith, specifically because his house forces the viewer to take his own “path” throughout the house in the same way that Smith’s poetry forces the reader to take her own “path” throughout the house.

"The Odyssey Summary." Shmoop: Study Guides & Teacher Resources. Web. 01 Feb. 2011.

This website provides a brief summary of The Odyssey that is clearly meant for children, as well as more detailed summaries of each individual book of The Odyssey. The source states that after the Trojan War, Odysseus is being held captive and everyone thinks he is dead. Meanwhile, back home in Ithaka, his wife, Penelope “is getting swarmed by suitors” (“The Odyssey Summary” par. 1), so their son, Telemachos, decides to find Odysseus and bring him home. Telemachos finds that Odysseus is “being held captive on Kalypso’s island” (“The Odyssey Summary” par. 2). Athene decides to take mercy on Odysseus and set him free from Kalyspso. The source then goes on to detail Odysseus’s journeys since the Trojan War, all of which seem fairly perilous. Oftentimes, the only thing stopping Odysseus and his men from sure death is the fact that Odysseus is a “clever dude” (par. 6). In the end, Odysseus returns to his palace in Ithaka in disguise and wins his wife back, then kills all her suitors, which is almost a problem, until “Athene appears and tells everyone to just quit it already: let’s all settle down and get along” (“The Odyssey Summary” par. 14).

"Vulcan." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica, 2011. Web. 18 Feb. 2011.