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Quipo: Video Poem

by Shira Dentz


Today starts as a comment.

I’d like this one to be a ray

though mostly, I get split ends.

They’re free though.

A day like an open half shell,

part of a collection.

Clouds re-draw the day,

the wet wool of it.

You can ravel their knobby weave

into a knot for a seat on their pendulum.

The original music is by Eric R. Hardiman, permission granted.


Artist Statement

Once I wrote, “Today starts as a comment,” the poem unrolled in the vernacular/musicality of a comment, the daily kind, as often are posted on social media. Along with this tonality came a sense of dailyness and freedom to collage and/or scavenge. I didn’t have a title for the poem until one day while doing something I don’t remember what, I came upon the word “quipo” (often spelled “quipu”), an Incan counting tool. Brittanica describes it as “a long textile cord with a varying number of pendant cords.” Quipo was a system of knots and strings to record information, like numbers, dates, and events, with the knots and strings arranged in a specific way. I thought of the knot ending this poem, and Brittanica’s description led the poem’s shape to resonate in me as a textile cord, its couplets as pendant cords. As a title, quipo seemed apt, adding the charm and historicity of a handmade, textile system to my text that began as an attempt to account.


Shira Dentz is the author of five books including SISYPHUSINA (PANK, 2020), winner of the Eugene Paul Nassar Prize 2021, and two chapbooks including FLOUNDERS (Essay Press). Her writing appears in many venues including Poetry, American Poetry Review, Cincinnati Review, Iowa Review, Gulf Coast, jubilat, Pleiades, Plume, Denver Quarterly, Colorado Review, Idaho Review, New American Writing, Brooklyn Rail, Apartment, Lana Turner, Berkeley Poetry Review,, and NPR, and she’s a recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize, Poetry Society of America's Lyric Poem and Cecil Hemley Awards, Painted Bride Quarterly's Poetry Prize, and Electronic Poetry Review's Discovery Award. She holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop and a PhD from the University of Utah. Currently, she lives and works in upstate New York, and more about her writing can be found at

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