Liz Howard and Aisha Sasha John / Intro to “A Rhythm Party” folio



As for the poem, I claim rhythm’s major role in its constitution of
language-subjects. Because rhythm is no longer, even if certain
illiterates haven’t noticed, the back-and-forth play of the metronomic
grammarians: rhythm is the language-organization of the continuance we
are made of. With all the alterity which founds our identity. Scram,
grammarians! All you need is a poem to lose your footing.
—Henri Meschonnic, “A Rhythm Party Manifesto”

We are considering hospitality a new discipline.

Georges Bataille, in The Accursed Share, studies gestures of waste and
extravagance in terms of a general rather than a restricted economy.

From this perspective, the extravagant abjection of poetry is not a
useless production but a necessary expenditure.

The conventions of hospitality are grounded in a closed system of gift
and reciprocation.

Within an unrestricted economy, however, reciprocation opens to an
unmeasured distribution of possible futures: infinite movement, or

Under the auspices of this new discipline the university has extended
invitations to two young poets living in Toronto, and asked them, in
turn, to extend the invitation to two poets of their choice.

Aisha Sasha John and Liz Howard are the two initially invited poets.
They have invited Erin Robinsong and Mat Laporte.

The poets will travel here in early May and stay for two or three nights,
during which they will participate in a rhythm party.

—Lisa Robertson and Orlando Reade
Princeton, March 2014


Your Invitation

We did. We rhythm-partied: dinners, readings, dancing, writing, and conversation were means by which we elaborated a theory of poetry. Yes: in May 2014, four Toronto poets—Liz Howard, Aisha Sasha John, Mat Laporte, and Erin Robinsong—were hosted by students and faculty of Princeton University’s English department. Jeff Dolven, Dixon Li, Jesse McCarthy, Javier Padilla, Orlando Reade, and Kate Thorpe are the hosts whose works grace this folio. Our party was perfected by the presence of New York poets Katy Bohinc, Joni Murphy and Ariana Reines. Henri Meschonnic’s “A Rhythm Party Manifesto” serving as our house, we were careful, generous entertainers to works on hospitality by Benveniste, Bataille, Derrida, and Ovid; in an exorbitant spirit of conviviality, we were radical hosts to each other. Our party bore fruit: forthcoming from Radiator Press is the chapbook Canadian Xtasy—and now, welcome here to our “illustrious useless poeisis.”


—Liz Howard and Aisha Sasha John
Toronto, January 2015


Read the whole “Rhythm Party” folio in TCR 3.25.

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