Some Clear Souvenir

E. Tracy Grinnell

2006 • 72 pp. • $12.00
ISBN: 9781882022595

Purchase from Small Press Distribution

“Presented as a set of thirty ‘clips’ (often accompanied by one or two ‘examples’), this wonderful new series of poems by E. Tracy Grinnell has both a cinematic quality (the works proceed in frames and flickers) and something of the recurrent character of news cuttings. One can imagine the poems as phenomenal encapsulations; one can read them as captions of perception. But they also serve as temporal prompts; the observations they detail set time in motion. The confluence of effort, object, and moment that creates Some Clear Souvenir brings time into the frame before us, filling it with the present. This is a book of prolonged fleeting—a book of life.”
—Lyn Hejinian

“‘Souvenir means’ literally ‘to come to mind’ and so in a world where ‘nothing returns/only/accumulates’ the souvenir is a delicious paradox—the experience of presentness, the lucid surprise of that. Tracy Grinnell’s intelligence as a poet brings one to one’s mind through words illuminated as much by the clarity of space that surrounds them as the way they cleave to a sensually enacted meaning. This is a radiant book.”
—Joan Retallack

Some Clear Souvenir is situated between intent and document, theory and experience. Bouncing between numbered ‘Clips’ and ‘examples,’ Grinnell’s carefully considered language straddles the hard edge the individual asserts over her shifting context. She is caught between subject/object, between background/foreground. She is as ‘stone complicates / the sand’. ‘I try / to feel / against / the elements’ In Grinnell’s sweet giveaway, the poetic language that is held so close ‘…escapes / not by violence // by giving way, by calling it / something else’”
—Diane Ward

“It’s a delight to watch how, with exacting precision, E. Tracy Grinnell brings a world into being my observing the body and its relation to specifics: birds, faces, houses, words. In Grinnell’s world, every naming becomes a complex failure of communication, but one that allows us a glimpse of an otherwise impossible presence in the interstices of her quickly passing images. This is a crystalline book, the fruit of a relentless and compassionate intelligence.”
—Cole Swenson


E. Tracy Grinnell is the author of Helen: A Fugue (Belladonna Elder Series #1, 2008), Some Clear Souvenir (O Books, 2006), and Music or Forgetting (O Books, 2001), as well as the limited edition chapbooks Mirrorly, A Window (flynpyntar press, 2009), Leukadia (Trafficker Press, 2008), Hell and Lower Evil (Lyre Lyre Pants on Fire, 2008), Humoresque (Blood Pudding/Dusie #3, 2008), Quadriga, a collaboration with Paul Foster Johnson (gong chapbooks, 2006), Of the Frame (Portable Press at Yo-Yo Labs, 2004), and Harmonics (Melodeon Poetry Systems, 2000). Grinnell’s poetry has been translated into French, Serbian, and Portuguese. She has taught creative writing at Pratt Institute, Brown University, and in the Summer Writing Program at Naropa University. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, and is the founding editor and director of Litmus Press.



days: night and day

herein lie the absences: to have forgotten what it is to resist, what we were before now where

there is birth, the war, a day
resistance a sentence a day

a night, a difference, no difference absence is resolute

rupture is


Clip 5

pigeons at four o’clock

this dream about bowties

my former residence

frustrated, ceaseless

haunting the ghost

is not yet dead

or yet

the residual of a sleeping dream

the residual of dismantled similarities, a waking one

is this

a figure
at four o’clock

the war, but more deliberate

is not the swarm
that calms the agitation

of four hands or disembodied

motivation that is external

to motion so that one haunts

or is haunted by the actual world: