This essay began as a conference paper and builds on work I did towards my book The Objects that Remain. Through a reading of Maggie Nelson’s memoir about the trial in her aunt’s thirty-year-old murder case, The Red Parts, I consider the rituals and rites that surround “numbered pieces of evidence” as contemporary relics. Why do once ordinary objects transformed by an act of violence demand our careful regard? And how, in the poet’s hands, do they remain vibrant? I am interested in how both writing and the rituals of holding, displaying, and circulating such objects keep them alive. These human practices are crucial. Sacred objects are kept vibrant and animate through our relationships with them. Without these engagements they can lose these qualities. By revisiting Nelson’s account, I hope to show how I came to think about these objects as relics and how, in retelling their stories, we keep these memories alive.


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pp. 63-71
Launched on MUSE
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