Notes for LABOR
(excerpts from a text-image work-in-progress)
The teaching artist is hired to write many institutional
handbooks, such as "Student Handbook" and "Faculty
Handbook" and "Curriculum Guide." For this project,
stamp each handbook with the official stamp. Arrange
under glass in any order. Soup spills on covers are
encouraged. Didactics are optional.
"ARCHIVE:LABOR / Magi / Read-only." A custom-
made stamp in self-inking red. Take notebooks,
timesheets, appointment letters, evaluations, class
rosters, book contracts, various emails, tax documents,
and bank statements and stamp them across the
bottom or on top right hand corners or in two places.
At the library exit, which contains the labor archive,
against which she pushes her hips and is counted.
When will this material turn yellow? To facilitate the
aging process, place in an oven and attempt baking
at a low temperature. Influence: the Xenakis papers.
Keep the oven light on and a pitcher of water in hand.
Where will the three women meet? Classroom.
Hallway. Library. Archive. Basement office. At the
edge of brackish water. At pulse points, sex, sweating,
falling. At the act of misconduct: seduction, trespassing,
insertion, stealing, suicide. They are a teacher, an
inspector, an archeologist.
Gathers and darkens in the recessed cuts and
grooves, imparting the appearance of a shallow
relief. At first the archaeologist was happy to pull
such shards from the earth and carefully dust off
The Poetry Whorehouse. The teaching artist is
invited to be pimped. The location: an old warehouse
near the brackish water. In the private room that
features an armchair and settee, she notes the
splatter of oil paint and waits for her first customer.
An Enlightenment campus. White pillars. Narrowing
set of marble stairs. There is one central corridor in
the library. It is easier to take this campus over.
A contemporary campus. Classrooms float in the
middle of many passageways. There is a feeling
of choice. It is harder to take this campus over.
Signs are crucial and hopefully correct, but despite
their conspicuous presence, there is a fair amount
of wandering during the first week of the semester.
How many cameras? Influence: Nancy Davenport.
The story of Seneca Village. The archaeologist uses
sonar to locate building footings. The City will not
allow for an excavation in Central Park. They agree to
a sign: "Here was once a settlement..." The sign is
After the skeletal structure of the book/history/archive
is established. Spaces into which the book/history/
archive becomes soaked. Influence: Bhanu Kapil.
Sonar. Feedback loops.
Possibilities are outlined in the book and may be
performed by any reader, including setting fire to
the entire project.
Reciprocal. Neutral. Antagonistic. R, N, A for short.
Each shall describe the relationship of the worker to
the work site.
This form, used to evaluate the teacher's work at the
end of the semester, will eventually speak. Its
monotone suggests a chant.
Due to imbalances in endocrine system, the site
of cramps. Due to a certain childhood. Due to a
household/department in which tension fills the
space that does not admit the need for solace.
The Finding Guide:
Record a woman's voice reading, carefully, each
entry. A video component as well. This will take a
long time. Influence: Linda Montano whose face
begins in a blur, comes into focus, and returns to
the blur. Archival parallel: before the researcher
arrives, the search and find, and the eventual fall.
Miranda, the teaching artist, will go blind. Sadie,
workplace inspector, works only at night.
The archeologist steals all the signs imprinted with
the new logo. She pries them off the cinder block
walls with one of her old trowels, slips the new signs
into her brief case, and notes the yellow cakes of glue
Who will eventually jump?
X Axis, Y Axis:
One axis is "sentimental." The other is "real."
Chart a worker/hero from the archive. This is
a portrait. The reader may locate herself.
Jill Magi works in text and image and is the author of SLOT (forthcoming, Ugly Duckling Presse), Poetry Barn Barn! (2nd Avenue Press), Threads (Futurepoem), Torchwood (Shearsman), Cadastral Map (Portable Press at Yo-Yo Labs), and numerous small, handmade books. Her writing has been anthologized in Letters to Poets: Conversations on Poetics, Politics, and Community (Saturnalia Books), Fiction from the Brooklyn Rail (Hanging Loose Press), and the Eco-language Reader (Portable Press at Yo-Yo Labs/Nightboat Books). She teaches at Eugene Lang, City, and Goddard Colleges, and runs Sona Books, a chapbook press, from her apartment in Brooklyn, New York.