Vietnam Digital Essay

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Although indistinguishable and in partial view, the configuration is rendered in solid bold lines and confident strokes, the marker's flat tip allowing Edwards to create thicker curved segments with a downward mark, and narrower lines on the horizontal and diagonal.

These chain formations, prompted from the unspecified space of the blank page, materialize into long- and short-phrased gestures.

"I have no way of know­ing," Madison reacts, "but perhaps that helped foul things up in Los Angeles. [DOUBLE EXPOSURE: "TODAY ON THIS DAY"] Jayne Cortez has claimed to locate her poetry in the unconscious and its concrete objects, employing visceral citations and a language of the lower body to render syllables immediate to their action.

"I guess the poetry is like a festival," she remarks.

A single line, an eerie cheer for the "health depart­ment," invokes spectators to watch "the friday crowd" of injured bodies spread out on stretchers as they are made to tumble into some storage place underground; these cadavers serve as surrogates for the decomposing foundation on which future admission is contingent.

The sexual excitement and farewells at mid-poem are a defiance to spite the beau monde or scientific elites ("audience of / mascara & white coats waving . ."), and some of the visual citations are continuous in mood with the drawings by Edwards.Cortez's poetry, unflinching insofar as it seeks to explore the brutal underside of expressive acceptability, makes such zones of interdiction possible in language that explodes with joyousness, even as it is capable of collapsing spaces at once social, psychological, geographic, and economic.One of the opening poems in the collection, titled "Initiation," submits, with no small amount of cruel irony, what the book as a whole exults.The words betray oblique relation to the markings evocative of flaps and loops under an obtruding brush tip or traditional spearlike tool.This interlacing submits that like­ness is to remembrance as the commemoration of a son or a daughter is to History.As mortar fire rages in the background of the interview scene, Madison bares his conflicted feelings.As for the men in his troop, Madison confirms he is capable of keeping his command free of interracial strife, "no matter what's going on in Los Angeles." But he admits feeling trepidation at the prospect of going home: "I thought things were getting better there between the races.The volume establishes a space of relation between the twenty-five poems by Cortez and seven drawings produced for the edition by artist Melvin Edwards, each class of line remarking on its adjacent medium.The collaboration furthermore hinges its two media in concrete spatial and temporal terms: expectations and real time cut back and forth between typographic lines and ink markings.On August 11, 1965, when "rocks, bricks, and bottles" first erupted at the corner of 116th Street and Avalon Boulevard, and desperation unleashed scenes of uprising in Watts and elsewhere—with firebombs setting storefronts and overturned cars ablaze and law enforcement barricades confining the throng, followed by an escalating storm of tear-gas mis­siles, mass arrests, and slayings in what the at first called a "melee" and later "virtual guerilla warfare"—that day found staff reporter Rubén Salazar en route to his assignment in Vietnam to dispatch from the paper's Saigon bureau.One of two Mexican Americans at the , Salazar found opportunity in Vietnam to remark on the crisis in Los Angeles.


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