The New York Editions borrows its title from The New York Edition, Henry James’s name for Scribner’s 1907-09 re-issue of his life-long output of novels and shorter fiction. If the homage of Snediker’s second book of poems to the Jamesian oeuvre seems self-evident or obscure, to conceive of this poetry as a translation of James’s prose somewhat misses the mark in terms of the former’s unfolding investment in the vision of a dreamlike field belonging to neither one nor the other, so much as the deep sea dive of language in between, in the throes. These mesmeric poems are experimental meditations on the limbo of lost-in-translation as a multi-axial bardo between multiples lives and texts and those that follow, which they might foreseeably become were these poems not so distinctly wed to a jewel-like present tense driven by no single aesthetic principle save the one it immanently navigates.
The multiple voices that call to us from this place are ghostlike, to the extent that the force of their coiled abandon feels tethered to bodies in no familiar way. Even at their most seductively wry or pining, these semblances of speech wash over the landscapes they’re embedded in like a film’s post-production score or the heady excrescence of lilies calling one’s attention to an open window. At the same time, such lurid, queerly disembodied phenomena are richly studded, one might say, with a singular, uncanny material of their own, shot through with the tenacious, not-quite-phantom élan of desolation, remediating mirth and the renegade confusion of each with their respective, recollected forms. These are vigilant elegies, rough odes, songs of experience shy toward neither their own felt urgency nor the latter’s tendency to spoil: baroque trauerspiel meets ghost-story in reverse, moonlight gleaming with the otherworldly shine of James Bidgood’s lambent, mineral-oiled sea-bed. The New York Editions chronicles the effort of inhabiting while doing justice to the approximate wilderness of all those variously perceptible disturbances that set the world ajar just enough to feel the draught of an adjacent universe pouring in. “… and hope is the/ shells each morning small and cool// into which we hermits/ retract the startling// need of our/ claws.”