Articles

Gelatin poetics

On Rachael Allen's 'Kingdomland' and the meatspace of contemporary feminist lyric

(Left) Rachael Allen’s Kingdomland; (right) Ventricle, oil-on-canvas by Maria Sledmere.

In Rachael Allen’s Kingdomland, shades of indigo and lilac leak through the pages like milk, in variant continuums of strangeness and shame. There is, however, a kind of “tint” to these poems that evokes not quite the Kristevan abjection of skin on milk, but something more like the translucent surface of a jelly left to slowly rot. 

Everything about you’s a bit like me —
in the same way that North Carolina’s a bit like Ribena
but rhymes with Vagina, which is nearly the same,
but much darker —
brutal and sweet like disease,
sweet as an asphalt dealer.
— Selima Hill, A Little Book of Meat[1]

G R G W R G R B R B R B W G W G R B B B B

Reflections on Bernadette Mayer’s ‘Studying Hunger Journals’

Bernadette Mayer visiting the Kelly Writers House on March 26, 2018.
Bernadette Mayer visiting the Kelly Writers House on March 26, 2018, for a Fellows reading. Photo by Kelly Writers House staff.

In the reflections that follow, I refer to media-archaeological reassessments of psychoanalytic theory as a way of opening American poet Bernadette Mayer’s Studying Hunger Journals (1972–1975) to new readings. If, as argued by the likes of Jacques Derrida and Friedrich Kittler, among others, psychoanalytic models of the human mind, from the “psychic apparatus” of Sigmund Freud to the schema of Jacques Lacan, are in fact underwritten by the media-technical conditions of their respective historical eras, then how might this insight shift perspectives on Mayer’s book, a project undertaken not only as an aid to psychoanalysis, but also at the dawn of the so-called Information Age? 

Jacques (Lacan) has wise words 4 me, it’s 2 good to B true, you’re 2 good to B’dette.  Bernadette Mayer, Studying Hunger Journals[1]

Saying it all is literally impossible. — Jacques Lacan, Television[2]

The dead and the living

Hugh Seidman’s late poems

Photo of Seidman courtesy of Spuyten Duyvil/Dispatches Editions.

In old age, many a poet ought to think twice before putting that last book together for public consumption. Easy enough to say — often the late work, when the poet had once published truly compelling, arguably great poetry, disappoints. I was in conversation with an elderly poet recently, someone who’s now in the eighth decade of life (as am I). We found we were harboring the same fear — we didn’t want to be repeating ourselves. We pictured rereading our late work and not seeing enough in it to warrant sharing it with the public. 

In old age, many a poet ought to think twice before putting that last book together for public consumption. Easy enough to say — often the late work, when the poet had once published truly compelling, arguably great poetry, disappoints. I was in conversation with an elderly poet recently, someone who’s now in the eighth decade of life (as am I). We found we were harboring the same fear — we didn’t want to be repeating ourselves. We pictured rereading our late work and not seeing enough in it to warrant sharing it with the public.

Ídolos among us

The innovative aesthetics of contemporary US Latinx poets

Yo busco nuestra gente en las luces brillosas de un Google Search. Encuentro luminaries like Julia Álvarez, Isabel Allende, y Esmeralda Santiago. Más chingonxs surface on the screen: García Márquez, Neruda. But as I keep scrolling, it dawns on me that almost all are either fiction authors or from the Latin American continent. Their works are written in a language most of us learned orally from our parents, that we stumbled through in parties and visiting relatives. 

Ni de aquí, ni de allá: The US Latinx poet as overlooked

Richard O. Moore's poésie-vérité documentaries

Note: The following essay grew out of a talk given at the conference Les archives sonores de la poésie: Production, conservation, utilisation/Recording in Progress: Producing, Preserving and Using Recorded Poetry, which was organized by Céline Pardo (Paris–Sorbonne), Abigail Lang (Paris–Diderot), and Michel Murat (Paris–Sorbonne) at Université Paris Sorbonne, November 25, 2016. Many thanks to Garrett Caples for his help and scholarship, and to Richard O. Moore’s daughter, Flinn Moore Rauck, for her invaluable help and generosity. — Olivier Brossard

Note: The following essay grew out of a talk given at the conference Les archives sonores de la poésie: Production, conservation, utilisation/Recording in Progress: Producing, Preserving and Using Recorded Poetry, which was organized by Céline Pardo (Paris–Sorbonne), Abigail Lang (Paris–Diderot), and Michel Murat (Paris–Sorbonne) at Université Paris Sorbonne, November 25, 2016.