SEEN/SCENE, SHEET, AND SCREEN: READING AMARANTH BORSUK AND BRAD BOUSES'S BETWEEN PAGE AND SCREEN
Amaranth Borsuk and Brad Bouse, Between Page and Screen, Siglio Press, 2012
Reviewed by Timothy David Orme
A screen is a shield, but also a veil—it's sheer and can be shorn.
Between Page and Screen is a collaborative project between Amaranth Borsuk (poet) and Brad Bouse (developer). It's also a collaborative project between the book and the reader and a computer.
To read Between Page and Screen, one must go to the project's website (www.betweenpageandscreen.com) and open the book's pages towards the computer's web cam, which in turn projects the poem (perhaps text is a better word) associated with that page against a screen of semi-translucent white, partially over the reader that holds the page herself. As soon as the black box of the page is no longer visible to the web camera, the text itself implodes or explodes—self-de-constructs—leaving only the reader. To read Between Page and Screen—both physically and psychically—is to open and share the page with the screen, and in doing so, have the screen expose and share something new, something hidden, something translated and reconfigured back to and onto the reader who is thus decidedly implicated. One not only reads the poems in Between Page and Screen, the poems between P and S, one is placed in the poems—literally between the book's lovers P and S—so that the reader becomes not only witness to the lover, the beloved, and the space between them, but actually exists in that space between them. To get from page to screen, from P to S, the reader must pass through herself.
This is a "book" (project-ion? experience?) that's fully interactive, and being so, the viewer not only commands the text, opens the text, is the shadow of the text, but also has the responsibility of maintaining the text—literally, holding its existence together. This text teaches its readers how to read not simply its words, its polyvalences and spoken sallies, but also its roots—obviously Latin (un)obscured-ly visceral: one's arms are always part of the poem, as are one's tremblings, one's imbalances, a haunting reminder of how fragile texts are (including ourselves), moving entropically towards their own deterioration. Hold still with what is before you, reader.
This is a book of substance and activation, a locus where naming is both sought and soot, a place of eros-ion but ultimately erosion, a place of do about and a place of doubt—a place one minds is dictated by the mind, playful, yes, but also frighteningly carnal (fleshy) in every way, a remarkable feat for a book whose characters are always writing one another, and yet never present on the page.
This is a book /space /encounter where metaphors are boundaries that must prop these characters up, must string them into a rapport that only pushes them further from one another, collapses them into dispute, a "fight" both as hearty and as amorous (heart-y) as tender and as tenuous as the language they (let us not forget they are the medium as well) inhabit, create, and are.
Many of the poems are letters between P and S. Connecting these two lovers through separation, painful in their sweetness, these epistles enact the erotic paradox: they make the absent present. By writing one another, these lovers cannot physically become one but can, during the space of the letter, extinguish the space between them through language. Even further than that, their letters acknowledge the absent nature of language itself, a system that is not the world it names, that places a symbol where a sound is absent.