A Vertical Elegy
Dick: A Vertical Elegy
Paperback: 76 pages
Publisher: Lunar Chandelier Press (July 4, 2014)
Read an exerpt from the book, with code.
"Sam Truitt's unusually sculptural poem is a lockbox of secrets. But each layer of concealment, spun out of language, reveals more insidious truths. The use of Morse code and Shakespearian fragments provides a cool and elusive, but also disturbing, conceptual frame. As in Hannah Weiner's Semaphore and Tom McCarthy's C, the act of coding both enacts and compresses distance. Feminine speech and military speech, ciphers for American life in the mid-20th century, rattle around the edge of a grave or a bomb site. DICK pulsates with violence and mystery."—Chris Kraus
"Dick" is about the Kennedy assassination and the machinations around that event. References to the latter are somewhat oblique: In fact, the whole work is, including most obdurately the integral deployment of Morse Code as text.
More than 200 transmissions are collected at Dick-An-Oblique-Kennedy-Conspiracy-Countdown.
The story behind DICK lies in my family’s knowledge about the execution of President Kennedy. My mother, the visual artist Anne Truitt,was a close friend of Mary Pinchot Meyer, the ex-wife of Cord Meyer, founder of the World Federalist Movement and subsequently a CIA official. Mary Meyer had an on-going affair with John Kennedy up to his death, about which she wrote in a diary. On our family leaving the States for Japan in 1963 (my father, a journalist, had been appointed bureau chief of Newsweek in Japan), Mary Meyer told my mother that if anything happened to her she should find and safeguard the diary. Mary Meyer was assassinated in Washington in October 1964, and on this news my mother contacted James Angleton, the CIA’s head of Counter Intelligence and a family friend, to locate the diary in Meyer’s studio. He did so and having read the diary kept it in his safe at CIA. Subsequently the diary was given to my mother and to Mary Meyer’s sister, Antoinette Pinchot Bradlee, the wife of Ben Bradlee of the Washington Post. They read and then burned it.
One reason why Mary Meyer is likely to have been assassinated, according to my mother, was that she had begun to talk about the Kennedy assassination, stating she had information regarding its perpetrators. My mother passed on this information to me.
Within the interstitial tracts of Morse Code I transmit this news, though burrowed within layers of cipher. (To note: DICK's epigraph is: "Who's there?" - spoken by Barnardo.) This actual information may be of inherent value, but its sealed condition also serves in the nature of this book - assuming motive in its construction & it didn't just happen like this - as a device thematically relevant to the secrecy surrounding acts undertaken in our name by our government and its unofficial legal and illegal outlying agencies. For DICK does more than bore and pick through the entrails of JFK assassination lore; rather, I have also sought in DICK to fashion a door through which those willing may enter and confront the pervasive grizzly machinations of “the best government money can buy” in the soulless shadow of which we live today. These matters are taken up in DICK's overt text, among forays into fragmentary narrative, commentary on the text itself and poetic digressions.