• phonemes_front

Frances Richard

Frances Richard is the author of Anarch. (Futurepoem, 2013), The Phonemes (Les Figues Press, 2012), and See Through (Four Way Books, 2003), as well as the chapbooks Shaved Code (Portable Press at Yo-Yo Labs, 2008) and Anarch. (Woodland...

The Phonemes

Frances Richard

Introduction by Ronaldo V. Wilson
Cover art by Renée Petropoulos
Book 5 of 5, TrenchArt Recon Series
Poetry | $15.00
ISBN 13: 978-1-934254-32-5
Size: 9.25″ X 4.25″
Pages: 122
Binding: Softcover, Perfect


phoneme n. (Linguistics): One of the set of speech sounds in any given language that serve to distinguish one word from another.

In The Phonemes, Frances Richard investigates perceptually distinct units of experience—sounds, energy surges, scraps of national and natural history—to create episodes of disruption and dissolution. A meteor drops, a redwood tree falls. A government, an airplane, a stock market, Adam and Eve, Odysseus, the author of a slave narrative, and a child watching “Sesame Street” slip from one state, or mode, of being into another. If such entities are composed of nearly weightless flakes of matter and/or sub-verbal increments of language, does the one-way gravity of falling and failing really take effect? On the other hand, if the basic units of significance are too small to read, how can writing communicate? The Phonemes plays with answering these questions by inserting into the poems typographic sound-effects, inventing a lexicon of marks in which, say, a field of tall grass, a humming refrigerator, a blue jay, or a car alarm can produce a legible notation.

Praise for The Phonemes

“There isn’t anyone else [in the basement] doing quite what these meteors are doing [chopped area] and no convenient [source glitched] genre or style that they fit into [500,000 words elusively pinned], which is [on a porch] automate car alarm [innocent doggy life] and why they are one of Intransitive’s very favorite groups [in the recycling area], they twisted knobs until their machines produced a [variety of emptinessess] [was drawn and a body]… phoneme indeed!”

– Robert Fitterman

“Frances Richard’s The PHONEMES constructs an interior score, a remap, a phonetic poetics of space on the page. Here she sculpts new lines of figurative typography, uncannily expressive, organic and subtle, ranging from a field of couplets splayed and navigated by emotional compass, to spare yet coherent fragments ineffably ‘over the rise.’ The key to interplay of sound and meaning is given repeatedly in different forms of ‘spectral analysis’ of the political embedded in language’s parts. Sophisticated and surprising employment of collage and juxtaposition of the sound makes for a rarified and well-wrought leap forward in radical cross-disciplinary and cross-genre collage, ambitiously expanding the very nature of poetry’s fields.”

– Lee Ann Brown

“In The Phonemes, clearly, multiple stories occur: Each folded articulation of sense, perception, of history, volition, identity, and loss is rendered in this book’s stunning stance, its gorgeous delivery, where language, symbol, sign, and picture meet to punctuate, forecast and project what’s possible within and beyond the real of

—-=*|=- — – – =*|- – = – “

– from the introduction by Ronaldo V. Wilson

Interview with KFAI’s Write On! Radio 

A review by Andy Fitch at The Conversant