Thursday, May 12, 2011
Sunday, April 10, 2011
Your answer in the comments space below...
Sunday, April 3, 2011
Friday, April 1, 2011
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
If you love experimental literature, you may be thinking about the literary fare available to the young adult readers in your life. And if you are eager to find some alternatives to vampire-angst, you might consider the recently-released third and final chapter of Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games series, Mockingjay, which lives up to the success of its two predecessors. Picking up after her escape in Book 2 of the series, the adventures of the seventeen-year-old protagonist Katniss Everdeen will thrill both young adult and adult readers.
Friday, March 25, 2011
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
But Holm does not bemoan this brave new world. Rather, she points out the tremendous opportunities it provides for work like that of Kathy Acker, David Salle, and Patti Smith. “For all of these artists, hybridity meant opportunity. Acknowledging our entanglement with things and other people—and our determination by things and other people—made for an energetic and subversive innovation.”
Friday, March 11, 2011
Monday, March 7, 2011
In her essay “On the Gurlesque” (QAE 17), Arielle Greenberg proposes that there is a new sub-genre of poetry, the Gurlesque, making waves in contemporary writing. She describes this sub-genre as poetry that:
…incorporates and rejects confession and lyricism, veers away from traditional narrative, and employs a postmodern sensibility invoking brand names, cultural ephemera and dark humor.
None of that is terribly unusual in American poetry right now—in fact, it kind of defines Stephen Burt’s own aesthetic term, “elliptical poetry”—but what strikes me as distinct in this work is a specifically girly, kitschy tone that is emotionally vulnerable but tough and crass, with a wry, perverse take on sexuality, a dark interest in the corporeal, all haunted by the ephemera and attitude of girlhood: this work puts the “femme” in feminism.
In Gurlesque poems, language wallows in muck and menstrual fluid, but also in sequins and ponies: Gurlesque poets risk reveling in both cuteness and grossness. The Gurlesque prankishly celebrates the same cultural trappings it seeks to critique: it has fun with the idea of the feminine, makes fun of it, drags it around by its neck, puts it on and takes it off like drag. As a means of conveying the visceral experiences of gender, Gurlesque poems are non-linear and conversational, dreamy and campy, and they can be discomforting, often shocking, about sexuality and the body.
As fun, riveting, and evocative as her examples of this poetry are, Greenberg’s literary criticism raises important aesthetic and political questions. Greenberg herself opens up the conversation with the following questions:
Can male poets be Gurlesque? …
How does the Gurlesque play out in other global cultures with their own histories around feminism—for example, what’s the relationship between the American Gurlesque and the Gothic Lolita subculture in Japan, or the fairytale-inspired writing of younger women poets in Sweden?
Will the Gurlesque have lasting power as an aesthetic?
Has the aesthetic already peaked?
What does a Third Wave feminist poetics look like, anyway?
Do you have answers? Additional questions? Share them here.
Saturday, March 5, 2011
Friedrich Durenmatt’s play The Physicists is an unusual sort of absurdist play. It has a setup common among Theatre of the Absurd: A fascist organization uses euphemistic language to disguise their brutality, and pseudo logic to promote fear and further their power-grubbing agenda. What makes Durenmatt’s play special is the choices he affords his main character in light of the fascist agenda.
Ionesco’s Rhinocerus ends with the Berenger as apparently the sole human who has not caught rhino-itus. He’s the only person left who hasn’t submitted to the fear-induced mob mentality, and we are left to presume that whatever life he has left will be spent in misery. Stoppard’sRosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead similarly revolves around two characters running up against human limitations to affect their own narrative. As in the original Hamlet, they are bit players, left to crack jokes from the sidelines, to act their parts as gears to the larger narrative.
In The Physicists, Durenmatt’s main character, Möbius, is a physicist (surprise) who has uncovered certain principles that would be highly useful to a certain fascist governments' agendas to dominate the world (cue: evil laugh). In an attempt to hide these secrets and to prevent much pain and suffering, he poses as insane and is put into a sanatorium. The fascists do not give up so easily, and in an ingenious plot, send two of their own physicists to said sanatorium (to gain admission, they proclaim to believe they are Einstein and Newton) with a mission of extracting secrets from Möbius’s frail mind. Ridiculousness ensues, until Möbius’s family visits and in order to preserve his deception, Möbius is forced to deceive them as well.
Here’s the unique part: rather than begrudgingly putting on a show of insanity and then despairing of his own powerlessness, Möbius embraces that which he still has power over. He uses his “false” identity (his “insanity” is that he believes King Solomon visits him) to sing a song filtered through his Solomon alter-ego with veiled references to his sadness over losing his family. Unlike other absurdist plays, The Physicists’ main character is empowered by the fallibility of identity. He alone possesses the truth behind his song. It is a private victory, but still larger than any other absurdist play would allow.
This empowerment can only exist in a play as full of play and artifice as The Physicists is. The plot is that of a bad murder mystery (I skipped that part in the interest of space). The double-agent spy/physicists, the ridiculous play with names -- these are all things that characters in most absurdist plays fight against. In The Physicists, they are the perpetrators of the identity games, and in their perpetration, exemplify the freedom that postmodernity (or whatever label you want to attach to the way we experience life today) begets. Without an integrating principle in which to calcify our sense of identity, we are free to play, and what better way to illustrate this freedom than through parody? The question is, why isn’t there more artifice, more parody, more theatrics in modern fiction? Or is there?
Thursday, March 3, 2011
Question: Do the different fonts undercut the poem? Would the poem be incredibly uninteresting without the fonts? Do both mediums work in tandem to create an interesting artifact? Does one art add prestige to the other? My friend "Jassie Bowles" says, "child's play."