Articles

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 — in a sense, saved — by the realization of a gender and genre transgressive experimental feminine rooted in embodied female experience but integral to all struggles (personal, sociopolitical, ethical, and aesthetic) with the cultural coercions of an ubermasculine hegemony. At the time I was in the process of writing “Rethinking Literary Feminism: Three Essays onto Shaky Grounds” in response to an invitation from scholars Lynn Keller and Cristanne Miller for their collection Feminist Measures: Soundings in Poetry and Theory.

 

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]

Words that bleed music

Postbop jazz in the poetry of Amiri Baraka and Nathaniel Mackey

Left: Nathaniel Mackey at Vision Festival, New York, 2015, courtesy of Nathaniel Mackey. Right: Amiri Baraka at the Malcom X Festival, San Antonio Park, Oakland, California, May 2007. Photo by David Sasaki via Wikimedia Commons.

In his preface to Blue Fasa (2015), Nathaniel Mackey reflects on what is arguably the key preoccupation in his oeuvre: the relationship between music and language. Mackey’s comments emerge out of a sense of disquiet with the way the two modes of communication are often presumed remote from the other by today’s artists and scholars.

'From A to Z'

Forty years later

Pages from the 1977 edition of 'From A to Z.'

From A to Z was published/printed in 1977. The book was a long year in the making, and as a work that was essentially an enormous scrabble game, it required a number of procedural steps for its realization. The most coherent (looking) sections were the ones written and set first. Then the “sorts” had to be used up by making $ubstitution$, f/puns, us!ng punctuation, and abbrev:at:ns, among other tricks.

“Quick, tell me the differences among Olson, Williams, and Pound.” Placed at the bottom of the “Introduction,” this line speaks volumes about the encounter between modern poetry and print publication that is documented in the bibliography-a-clé, From A to Z.

Total translation

Navajo song and the story of US modernism

In her deconstruction of Mary Austin’s ‘The American Rhythm,’ Leah Dilworth argu
In her deconstruction of Mary Austin’s ‘The American Rhythm,’ Leah Dilworth argues that modernists held American Indian culture to be fundamentally analogous to that of ancient Africa and China. Above: Austin's 'American Rhythm,' Eda Lou Walton's 'Dawn Boy,' and 'Navajo Songs,’ 1933 and 1940 field recordings from settlements in New Mexico and Arizona courtesy of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.

American Indian culture attracted many white poets to the Southwest in the early and mid-twentieth century. Educated in Anglo American traditions, but compelled by the modernist urge to develop new poetic forms, poets from Mary Austin to Jerome Rothenberg went to great lengths to represent what they were hearing and feeling. D. H. Lawrence wrote of his experience of Hopi dance, and he and Witter Bynner composed lyrics purportedly inspired by the Taos Pueblo. In American Rhythm, Austin “re-expressed” the music of several peoples, including the Paiute and Shoshone, and in Red Earth, Alice Corbin Henderson claimed to write “from the Indian,” naming the San Ildefonso and Tesuque pueblos. 

American Indian[1] culture attracted many white poets to the Southwest in the early and mid-twentieth century. Educated in Anglo American traditions, but compelled by the modernist urge to develop new poetic forms, poets from Mary Austin to Jerome Rothenberg went to great lengths to represent what they were hearing and feeling. D. H. Lawrence wrote of his experience of Hopi dance, and he and Witter Bynner composed lyrics purportedly inspired by the Taos Pueblo.

A word's autobiography

Seyhan Erözçelik's 'KırAğı' and 'Rosebud'

Seyhan Eröçelik in college. Image courtesy of Belgin Erözçelik.

Kır Ağı (Hoarfrost) is Seyhan Erözçelik’s third published book, but if we look at the dates when these poems were composed, we see that it is actually the first book he wrote, published eleven years after these poems were initially written. Seyhan Erözçelik was in his late teens when he wrote Kır Ağı, which took him about three years to finish (1980–83). 

After Seyhan Erözçelik: Dedicated to the Word “Kırağı”

Frost first
force fast
     slow
fist farce (course)
     lost
blow
        — Murat Nemet-Nejat