cap we love proof reading bang

Russell Valentino

It's now proofing time at TIR, when bang is not just the name of a contemporary American poet (whose new and strangely contemporary Dante will be featured in an upcoming issue, by the way) but a code for an exclamation (which might be the same thing, if Bang's Dante is any measure), and comm doesn't stand for the first part of Comm Studies and point is the point because it marks the end (a metaphysical concept, as in the final stop that gives sense to all the precedes it "Was Khrushchev a good man?" asks little Petya of his grandma; I don't know, little Petya, we'll have to wait 'til he dies to find out), and the difference between an em-dash and a hyph is as crucial as that between a paren and par.

Picture: We sit in pairs, one reading aloud, the other reading along, and perform every page, every line, every word in preparation for its going into print. Did I say every word? No! Every mark on every page gets uttered aloud, if not lovingly, at least with care and a willing (constrained perhaps but willing) ear at the ready. The readers are absolutely absorbed. Bystanders find it bizarre. Readers who were readers the day before, listening today, find it bizarre.

Passing by on other business, I listened to a bit of proofing last week. Lynne reading to Jenna, I think, and let me say this: Craig Santos Perez writes poems DELIBERATELY to drive proofreaders insane em dash bang bang (spaced dots) point.

Try: indent brack bold pecho space colon space non-bold prayers flay break double indent wood treated break far right indent to strengthen em-dash break ital hunggan hunggan hunggan magahet break far right indent Roman signs break far right indent of crossing em-dash break line space double indent single quote mast single quote single quote yard single quote single quote sail single quote single quote rigging single quote em-dash break line space flush left bold brack patnitos space colon space unbold they can't poz t bury light break double indent even if they burn paren lucky I picked a passage without diacritics bang paren.

Let's be clear. We love Craig Santos Perez. Just not to proof. And so this thrice-yearly reading ritual is the performance of something, not poetry and prose per se, but something much more mundane, elemental. It's the performance of grammar and typos, punctuation and numerals, line breaks, diacritics, and typefaces, all carefully enunciated, noted and considered (should that "and" have a comma before it?). And if some of us think that "ital" should be pronounced "eye-tal," like "eye-rack" and "eye-ran," others of us just assume it's because we're in one of what Nabokov somewhere or other calls "the states that start with I," where eye-talians haven't been known much to congregate. Yo.