Since self-publishing his first poems at age 16, Jesse Glass has been using alchemical motifs to render lived experience on paper. [...]Nigredo, or "blackening," is the first of the three alchemical refinement processes (the other two are albedo, or whitening, and rubedo, or reddening) and involves heating the prima materia, or first matter, until it burns to ashes. At the psychological level, nigredo suggests vastation of the ego (that is, the burning away of its impurities), melancholia, depression, self-doubt and the struggle to integrate the shadow side of one's personality. An apt title for a collection by an author in his late teens, one might think. [...]Glass said his recent work is increasingly performance-oriented, mentioning a performance he gave at a poetry festival in Maastricht, Netherlands, in 2001 of his "Trope Event." The piece involves him reading a moderately long poem and burning each page after completion, then handing paper and pencils to audience members and asking them to write down--"resurrect, as it were, from the cooling ashes"--what they remember of the content.
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