No, MY Ariel

An engagement with Sina Queyras's 'My Ariel'

In the first poem of Sina Queyras’s poetry collection My Ariel, an I-speaker testifies that “A love procedure set me going like a big fat lie.” This line directly overwrites one of Plath’s most famous lines — “Love set you going like a fat gold watch” — often quoted to portray Sylvia’s personal experience of new motherhood on the occasion of her daughter Frieda’s birth.

February 5 [2018]

Stein's propagandistic potential

A note on Gertrude Stein's 'La langue française' and 'Patrie'

Portrait of Gertrude Stein with American flag by Carl Van Vechten, January 4, 1935, from the Van Vechten Collection at the Library of Congress, via Wikimedia Commons.

Editorial note: This piece is intended to be a companion to Logan Esdale’s contribution to this dossier, which can be found here.

Being matter recorded

Cecil Taylor on/poetry

Chris Funkhouser performing at 'Open Plan: Cecil Taylor,' Whitney Museum of American Art, April 2016. Photo courtesy of Constellation Funkhouser.

After my first encounter with Cecil Taylor’s work in November 1986, I never would have imagined having a series of extraordinary experiences with him across the decades that followed. Seeing him that first time, a two-hour solo concert during a thunderstorm, I didn’t realize music could exist in such a different aesthetic universe: concert as poem.

After my first firsthand encounter with Cecil Taylor’s work in Charlottesville in November 1986, I never would have imagined having a series of extraordinary experiences with him across the decades that followed.

Alterity, Misogyny & the Agonistic Feminine

Hieronymus Bosch, 'Garden of Earthly Delights' (detail).
Above: Hieronymus Bosch, 'Garden of Earthly Delights' (detail), via Wikimedia Commons.

This essay is conjectural and conversational. Conversational with other texts, other minds; but also among the importantly divergent logics of poetry and discourse, discourse and exploratory essay. Decades ago, skeptical about the force of a strictly woman-centered feminist theory whose reactive stance seemed to corroborate the secondary status of the feminine in the age-old M/F binary, I was struck by the realization of a gender and genre transgressive experimental feminine rooted in embodied female experience but integral to all struggles with the cultural coercions of an ubermasculine hegemony.


Antigone: I stand convicted of impiety,
the evidence, my pious duty done …
Chorus: The same tempest of mind
as ever, controls the girl.[1]

Despite the fact that gender identities are in increasingly complex conversation with biology and cultural construction the reductive force of patriarchy, with its sidekick misogyny, remains the catastrophic constant. — S. M. Quant[2]

The art of lyrical commentary

Michael Heller's poetic achievement

“Effacement is the action of shifting desert sands. Time rubs away memory, leaving only its remnants, its shadows. The poem comments on literature even as it makes it.” Above: Photo of a dust storm by NASA, via Wikimedia Commons.

Commentary: Notes, memoranda, memoirs, annotations, derivations, slips (of paper, of tongue), and, in the etymological sense of commenta, interpretation of scripture. Michael Heller’s work is replete with commentary, an ongoing lateral additive to the world around him, lyric in intensity, vibrant with life, literary and religious in its concerns.

1. Ozymandias, a commentary