While browsing in the local bookstore, I came across Anne Carson’s If Not, Winter, a collection of Sappho’s fragments. The book was published back in 2002, and I wish I had read it before all of Carson’s other works on my shelf. The accretion of suggestive phrases operates like unrequited love, or rather, like a longstanding relationship from which one of the participants has been entirely erased. This explains the fascination with suggestion and a rigorous grasping after that underlies Carson’s work, from the poems to the most discursive academic prose.
The experience of coming across If Not, Winter also made me briefly sick to my stomach, as one feels after narrowly escaping catastrophe. How long might I have gone without encountering this source, which I know already will be important to my own future work? And would I have come across this beautiful book were it not for the curatorial work done by a great, local bookstore? If Not, Winter, indeed.