Recent Puritan author Jessica Comola discusses her “Hologram” poems from Issue XX.
Rejoice in God, O ye Tongues; give the glory to the Lord, and the Lamb. / Nations, and languages, and every Creature, in which is the breath of Life” (Fragment A, 1-2).
These are the lines with which Christopher Smart begins his Jubilate Agno. He then goes on to rejoice for another 1,200 bizarre and brilliant lines such as, “For H is a spirit and therefore he is God / For I is a person and therefore he is God … For there he heard certain words which it was not possible for him to understand. / For they were constructed by uncommunicated letters” (Fragment C, 1-2 and 43-44).
If you haven’t read Jubilate Agno, then hunt down a copy at once, but I’ll warn you: if read in one sitting, alone, in your empty campus office, it will result in some strange writing.
The “Hologram” poems reflect these patterns in Smart’s lines—sections organized by “Let” and “For,” the disruption and reunion of voices, the invocations of God and chant-like prayers to him—but whereas Smart’s writing is a masterful exultation (however complex) to the Judeo-Christian God, the “Holograms” are intended as miniature reflections on the concept of a spiritual force and the communications that a “we,” as a voice representative of an undefined collective, could have with this idea of God.
Holography is based on the idea of recording an image of an object; however, instead of simply reproducing it, the idea is to add another dimension to the image, while the original object no longer exists. This concept, when paired with Smart’s incantatory and fantastical linguistics, is the idea behind the “Hologram” poems: what authority does the collective “we” voice have and how would it communicate to itself? How would it communicate to God?
The “we” speaks in a chant-like voice to embody both the spiritual nature of the material and the idea of a created voice—a hologram of a voice—where “we” speak as one when “one” single entity does not actually exist. Simultaneously, the idea of God is the hologram—God (as object, objective, or concept) does not exist—instead the poem itself serves as a holographic image that builds dimensions around a hollow center.
The “Holograms” are a work in progress, but maybe that’s the whole point—whatever goes onto the page is always a hologram of what we actually want our poems to do, but our writing is most successful, perhaps, when it can let go of its original conception, its core “object,” and can instead stand as a multi-dimensional, and ever-changing, construction.
Jessica Comola is currently an MFA student at the University of Mississippi. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Everyday Genius, Anti-, The Journal and HTML Giant, among others. Read her work from Issue XX of The Puritan here.