I wear pants almost all of the time now, and can’t remember the last time I wore a dress, though after reading “The Dress I Wrote Backwards,” a poem by Juliana Leslie, I am thinking about all the dresses I have written, in the form of language or sound, a sewn or hemmed or trimmed (a la Harryette Mullen) thing, a thing worn or a worn thing, a shapely, warm, lovely sparkled and cut thing, as well as all the things I have written backwards, frothing along some red and tender edge of experience. Whatever I have written or worn is not at all like what happens in Juliana Leslie’s language, though:

She glimpses artists of the moment
painting the pelvis the ulna the remnants
the red gestures in single moments that bend
in the innermost of schools
the combinations figure themselves
as in epics or symphonic sheets        [JL]

(All following quotes are excerpts from poems by Juliana Leslie [JL] or Corina Copp [CC].) I am thinking of “the red gestures in single moments that bend,” and how potentially violent and passionate and truant these red gestures feel, in spite of being cushioned between otherwise comparatively innocuous lines. To write a dress backward. Here, the first few lines in Corina Copp’s “Poor Waif 2”:

All extra pinafores
Down by the front
Entrance,now                                   [CC]

Corina Copp is a poet and playwright. Her plays have poetry in them and her poems have play in them. Plays. By this I’m not just saying that these poems are playful, and in the above quotation I also don’t mean to say that these are apt quotations, since the lines spill into each other time and again, linking earbuds to fingertips, earbuds to fingertrips, right at the

Ripped ridge where
Knowledge is pow
Seems like we hurt
Wanting it faces                                 [CC]

But all the same it is true that there are places (entrance, bath, a look) and characters (Waif, Company, Cow) and lines and actions:

You came here,
Smashed in cotton cage,
Said you were my
Love, I said I have
All this cusp                                       [CC]

And all this cusp is the thing and the place of where we have it, in the poems of Juliana Leslie, who is also the author of the book, More Radiant Signal.

She heavy traffic having driven
around the end of the edge of
the pursuit of formal steam                   [JL]


And these are also lines from a poem in which someone somewhere lies down into or props the self up into clothing, dress, symphonic sheets (or epics), and the act of writing music or writing poems or writing a novel is glimpsable-tactile and here comes the body, it is written, and then heard:

The issue is sound
a pale clouded collector
parliament of arms                              [JL]

(in “Queues”) and it is a whole crowd of arms speaking, in French parler, a parle-a-ment (and at times on par with lament) of not arms, then, but

I feel my steps
Quicken in the fall
And make a slow
Fire or water bath                               [CC]


as people pour into shapes
foam or velvet edges
voluntary crescents
shouting for joy
repeating scarlet openly                     [JL]


And somehow just now in my reading I jumped from one poem by Corina Copp into another poem by Juliana Leslie, and it’s not that they are oh so similar as poets, I find my enjoyment of them quite independent of each other, but here I am, nonetheless very pleased to present to you these two luminous poets together along these folds of the internet.

— Sawako Nakayasu



Sawako Nakayasu's recent books include Mouth: Eats Color (Rogue Factorial), Texture Notes (Letter Machine Editions), and Hurry Home Honey (Burning Deck). More information about her is available at http://www.sawakonakayasu.net/.