Commentaries

The quotidian

Orchid Tierney

J2 reviews editor Orchid Tierney reads three collections interrogating the poetic forms of the everyday — or, “the intimacy possible in the fractures”: Thousand Star Hotel by Bao Phi, Days and Works by Rachel Blau DuPlessis, and Abandoned Angel: New Poems by Burt Kimmelman.

J2 reviews editor Orchid Tierney reads three collections interrogating the poetic forms of the everyday.

Running into capitalism: John Ashbery's 'Girls on the Run'

Henry Darger, from 'In the Realms of the Unreal.'

If we push the uncritical romantic views of the outsider artist aside, it’s difficult not to read Henry Darger’s In the Realms of the Unreal as embodying the dynamics of an abuse narrative. His epic uses multiple mediums: newspaper clippings, stenciled drawings, watercolor paintings, and narrative fiction to depict a child slave rebellion against their Glandelinian overlords. The heroines of Darger’s allegory of Christian martyrdom are the Vivian girls, rendered by the author in a range of disturbing, one-dimensional fashions: the girls are shown, by turns, adventuring through idyllic, Edwardian landscapes, and falling prey to the grotesqueries of absolute violence, hanged in a field or strangled. Notable is that Darger often draws male genitalia on the little girls, a fact overlooked by many as mere curiosity. John Ashbery encountered Darger’s work in the 1990s and this encounter inspired the corresponding long poem, Girls on the Run. In Darger’s simplistic world, the girls are unquestionably moral and good and the author gives them no room to deviate from their characterization, which feels particularly misogynistic.

If we push the uncritical romantic views of the outsider artist aside, it’s difficult not to read Henry Darger’s In the Realms of the Unreal as embodying the dynamics of an abuse narrative. His epic uses multiple mediums: newspaper clippings, stenciled drawings, watercolor paintings, and narrative fiction to depict a child slave rebellion against their Glandelinian overlords.

Jerome Rothenberg: Five Translations/Versions of 'Poland/1931,' 'The Wedding'

Five Translations/Versions of 'Poland/1931'

Photo-collage for 'Poland/1931' by Eleanor Antin.

The opening poem of Poland/1931 has been translated into a number of languages, some of which I’ve been able to read or perform in during various travels. The availability of Poems and Poetics gives me a chance to bring a few of these translations together — in the present instance, from Spanish, from French, from German, and most particularly from Yiddish. Others — from Polish, Swedish, Chinese, and Dutch — may follow in the near future. Performances in English and Yiddish can be found on PennSound. (J.R.)

[The opening poem of Poland/1931 has been translated into a number of languages, some of which I’ve been able to read or perform in during various travels. The availability of Poems and Poetics gives me a chance to bring a few of these translations together — in the present instance, from Spanish, from French, from German, and most particularly from Yiddish. Others — from Polish, Swedish, Chinese, and Dutch — may follow in the near future.

Susan Suntree: from 'Sacred Sites, The Secret History of Southern California' with a foreword by Gary Snyder

Susan Suntree: from 'Sacred Sites'

Suntree’s many years of writing, performing, and activism inform her work. So it is in part her cumulative wisdom and insight that makes this book so strong. Here we have a model for a much larger project: indigenous and Western poets and scientists swapping stories, singing their best songs around the same fire, working hard to keep the world in balance. That is going to take every song we’ve got.

Book Two: The Origins of Southern California: Indigenous Myths and Songs

Part 1: Universe, World, People

 

First