Lisa Samuels is a transnational poet, essayist, and sound artist whose recent works include a novel, Tender Girl (2015), an essay Over Hear: six types of poetry experiment in Aotearoa/New Zealand (2015), an edited collection, A TransPacific Poetics (co-editor Sawako Nakayasu, 2017), and a poetry book, Symphony for Human Transport (2017). Current projects include new soundworks and a collaboration with US director Wes Tank on a film version of her book Tomorrowland. Lisa has lived since 2006 in Aotearoa/New Zealand, where she teaches writing and theory at The University of Auckland.

Soft text and the open line

Soft text is potential text arising within language users in our interactions with ourselves, permeant surfaces, other persons, and object-events of living. It’s the text that silently formulates or never quite materializes in invisible relation to speaking, publishing, or other hard text form. Soft text is the invisible textuality of potential language: language that stays within the mind. A textual theory analogous to the social space theory of Lisa Robertson’s  ‘soft architecture,’ soft text is the alterity, ghost, futurity, prefiguration, and/or potential otherness of the hard text line. Possibility intrinsically exceeds actuality, thus there is always more soft text than hard text anywhere and any time. The essay engages the soft text of encounters with the non-verbal world, conversation, public contexts, and responses to poetic lines, noting that the membranes among different soft textual apportionments cannot be delineated with absolute fixity, even as they all defer from hard text. The essay considers excerpts from Bill Direen’s Enclosures 2 (Percutio 2016) and from Lisa’s experimental memoir of childhood, Anti M (Chax 2013), and ends by thinking about areas of conceptual overlap between revisionary palimpsests, with their hard text ghosts, and  ‘true’ soft text.