Introduction for Jenny Boully

When I was first learning my way around contemporary poetry, I remember a friend, lent me Jenny Boully’s book The Body. Her eyes widened with how new the essay of only footnotes then seemed, and she was like you have to read this, but you have to give it right back.

Boully writes in Moveable Type: “Sometimes when I say something, I begin remembering that someone else has said it before, but maybe in a different arrangement of words; when I say something in a particular manner, I begin remembering that someone said something in the same way before—only with me the subject changes.”

Not only are Boully’s two recent titles very long, of the mismatched teacups, of the single-serving spoon: a book of failures and not merely because of the unknown that was stalking toward them her sentences are often long. The syntax is difficult to transcribe even though the thoughts seem to have been dormant inside my head. Yes, I have felt, exactly that thought before.

Boully places a lot of trust in the reader to provoke certain sensations of loss. Similar to how an editor might forego the printing of an inky photograph for faith in the caption alone, there is something about her work that looks you right in the eyes. Boully: “I was the lonely tripod. I was the empty cup of tea left behind.”

I wanted to fuse the words blunt and intricate when thinking of Boully’s prose. She writes “…In matters of correspondence, the body is tragically absent.” The body is missing from the writing but it leaves its mark, as much of the content draws from living in the body. The essay that emerges is a friendly conundrum, a place to unravel and seat its moving parts like interruptions in a silent room.

What happens when you make a place for absence tangible? The admissions stacked and recorded provoke the question how might writing be superior to speaking? Writing is cast as the watcher of speech, namely of its fumbles “… when one speaks, it is never as one intended.”

I read in an interview online that Boully doesn’t like the delete button, once it comes out it’s out. This I believe is a level of seduction, of permission to enter the text’s vast and deceptive intimacies.

Speech is thrown in contrast to writing, though there is never a shortage of conflict in the detailed description of the writing process, one of Boully’s returning subjects.

She writes: “If I am a rough draft of myself, then I am always forgetting; I am always adding; I am always ripping apart; I am always confusing, leaving out some important detail, which would fuse and clear up matters…that is how I will exist: a text with endless omissions.”