Valerie Witte is the author of the chapbook, The history of mining (ge collective, 2013); and her writing has appeared in various journals, including Diagram, Dusie, Barrow Street, VOLT, Interim, and Alice Blue. a game of correspondence is her first book. In 2014 she began a collaboration with Chicago-based artist Jennifer Yorke. Their artist books based on her manuscript Flood Diary have been displayed in the exhibition, “Quotidiean/Elements of the Everyday: Water,” held jointly at the CelerySpace gallery in Berkeley, CA, and La Porte Peinte in Noyers, France. She is a member of Kelsey Street Press and the Bay Area Correspondence School (BACS). A native St. Louisan, she now lives and works as an editor in the San Francisco Bay Area. Follow her musings and her work at @shellthief (Twitter) and valeriewitte.com.
Valerie Witte’s a game of correspondence is available at SPD.
Praise for a game of correspondence:
a game of correspondence is a masterful and engaging book. With the intimacy and obsessive passion of Djuna Barnes and the precision of Jane Austen, Valerie Witte involves the reader in a deep game. The complexity of the first section, “her week of wonders: a translation,” composed using text from a novel from the ’30s, will be fascinating to the mad indexer in every reader. The eponymous section that forms the book’s second half has the persuasive charm of a lyric novel. The presence of just plain good lines throughout makes the whole project a delight. —Laura Moriarty
In her astute new book, Valerie Witte investigates correspondence as both an act of communication and the prospect of communion; her poems are suffused with the necessary haunting of these urgent impossibilities, a kind of animal, a kind of seizure. Witte interrupts her smooth surfaces with gorgeously jagged punctuation, stuttered cadence, animate line breaks, and deft leaps, the disappearance of travelers/ into mires, a woman in the next room singing/ or the radio…. In Witte’s hands, territories as disparate as science fiction, email, the gothic, and memory are all fertile ground for exploring the nature of connection, rupture, and yearning itself: this has nothing to do/ with the Moon’s face belying a particular likeness// as every face demands —Laura Walker
a game of correspondence offers readers a deviously devised descent beneath simple meaning. We glimpse what lurks beneath the socially sanctioned behaviors that contain and constrain experience. We explore, in the often beguilingly simple language of modern communications, the question of how we know ourselves to be in “correspondence.” Both of that word’s denotations (the ‘exchange of communication’ and the ‘quality of equivalence’) are detonated in the game: unsettling uses of seemingly simple syntax act as fuse, both as lit wick and as device of fusion. Both enjambment and unexpected inversions of meaning, mid-phrase, alter a reader’s expectations, as the two individuated, yet subversively “corresponding,” halves of this text ask, each with its own context and conflicts: How do we recognize our kin, our intimates, our selves? How are we to comprehend the correlatives and preponderances that haunt even our simplest assumptions? —Rusty Morrison