Introduction for Cedar Sigo at Minor American

In the Preface to his 2003 novel The Mask of the Beggar, the Guyanese writer Wilson Harris outlines his methods:

“The artist or author does not have absolute control of his creations but is subject to being created afresh by the characters (or character-masks) he creates. In this way there is no final creation since finality is ceaselessly partial and subject to profoundest alterations.

The artist experiences an excitement, troubling and ecstatic, as he finds himself launched on pathways he never expected to travel and on which his intuition is aroused afresh.”

Cedar Sigo is both the creator and a participant of the “troubling and ecstatic” adventures we find in his verse. His books enact an unpredictable tension between control and intuition. They seek an awareness of how the poem might take root and unfold its charm, somewhere in the process of reading & writing. A few of the “character-masks” in his strange new book have accompanied him for over a decade, many of them first appearing in hand-crafted, semi-secret broadsides and chapbooks, others in private, typewritten letters. Reading his books, we can note how his poems have built up a repertoire of words and images that are distinctly his own. These familiar presences serve as signposts for the reader, though they remain unsettled. Some of these shades that inhabit his poetry include: hotels, blood, rooms, typewriters, windows, antique or rare editions, the city (as an event & organism), music and the night.

What we might hear tonight is a type of music played on vinyl. It actually begins with pause in the room when someone gets up to select the right record, stopping to admire its sleeve. We wait for the needle to drop, the orphic pulse of a figure leaning over an old machine, broadcasting. Please welcome Cedar Sigo.

(For the reading by Cedar Sigo & Ken Taylor at the Minor American reading series on 19 October 2011, Duke University, Durham, NC)

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