Winner of the 2017 Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize
For prize-winning poet Tiana Clark, trees will never be just trees. They will also and always be a row of gallows from which Black bodies once swung. This is an image that she cannot escape, but one that she has learned to lean into as she delves into personal and public histories, explicating memories and muses around race, elegy, family, and faith by making and breaking forms as well as probing mythology, literary history, her own ancestry, and, yes, even Rihanna. I Can’t Talk About the Trees without the Blood, because Tiana cannot engage with the physical and psychic landscape of the South without seeing the braided trauma of the broken past—she will always see blood on the leaves.
I Follow in the Dust She Raises is a collection of deeply personal poems born from a life sharply observed. Martin takes readers from the mountains of the West to the shores of Alaska, as she delves into the rippling depth of childhood experiences, tracks the moments that change a life, and settles into the fine grooves of age. Exploring the ties of family and grief, Martin’s unflinching poetry ripples with moments of extraordinary beauty plucked from what seem like ordinary lives.
For men in the Union and Confederate armies and their families at home, letter writing was the sole means to communicate. Taking pen to paper was a new and daunting task, but Christopher Hager shows how ordinary people made writing their own, and how they in turn transformed the culture of letters into a popular, democratic mode of communication.
This all-new collection by former Alaska poet laureate smoothly blends his life in Maine, his years in Alaska, and his love of Chinese poetry—which has been a key influence on his work—into a lyrical fantasy that will enchant lovers of verse. These tightly rhythmic, compact eight-line poems demonstrate a rare deftness with—and an even more uncommon ear for—language, revealing poetic form to be neither a puzzle nor an accomplishment in itself, but a compositional tool and a spur to creativity.
In the same way that the speaker in these poems often seems itinerant, lacking a place or person to call home, the poems themselves have their own roaming quality. The reader is moved somewhere unexpected, the poems seem to shapeshift or suddenly beckon from somewhere else, or they may zoom into focus. Like a succession of Russian dolls, the poems open toward and magnify the concealed, removed, or forgotten. Throughout, whether from cosmic or microscopic perspective, the details here are handled tenderly, and these poems, even with their constant sense of mobility, return to and are anchored by the familiarly human.
I Will Say Beauty
Carol Frost Northwestern University Press, 2003 Library of Congress PS3556.R596I18 2003 | Dewey Decimal 811.54
The thrilling new collection from the Pushcart Prize-winning poet
"I will say beauty," Carol Frost boldly says in one of her new lyrical poems, beauty being for her and all of us elusive-in and out of nature. The phrase is meant as a cri de coeur, and the poems are arranged to offer a fresh way to look at--and exist within--nature. For Frost, beauty is a far cry from the decorous and social.
Frost sets many of these poems in Florida's Cedar Keys, amidst the nesting areas of birds, cottonmouth snakes, wetlands, and tidal rhythms. The reader undertakes a journey through a tropical summer, where strange scents and sounds are signs of the transient beauties the imagination may possess for a moment. Drawing brilliantly from nature and from art, from the rhythms of life and the furies of emotion, Frost rejects standard responses and dares to ask: how do we perceive the world? When is beauty not enough? Can we imagine Paradise? And, when nature ordains that death must come, and we weaken, how do we die?
I Would Lie To You If I Could contains interviews with nine eminent contemporary American poets (Natasha Trethewey, Jane Hirshfield, Martín Espada, Stephen Kuusisto, Stephen Sandy, Ed Ochester, Carolyn Forche, Peter Everwine, and Galway Kinnell) and James Wright’s widow Anne. It presents conversations with a vital cross section of poets representing a variety of ages, ethnicities, and social backgrounds.
The poets testify to the demotic nature of poetry as a charged language that speaks uniquely in original voices, yet appeals universally. As individuals with their own transpersonal stories, the poets have emerged onto the national stage from very local places with news that witnesses memorably in social, personal, and political ways. They talk about their poems and development as poets self-effacingly, honestly, and insightfully, describing just how and when they were "hurt into poetry," as well as why they have pursued writing poetry as a career in which, as Robert Frost noted in his poem "Two Tramps in Mud Time," their object has become "to unite [their] avocation and [their] vocation / As [their] two eyes make one in sight."
The long-awaited second volume of the newly revived Ice Floe series, Ice Floe II features new and exciting works of poetry from a vibrant and diverse group of writers from Alaska, Canada, Russia, Sweden, Iceland, and beyond. All work is presented here in both its original language and in English translation. With contributors that include former Alaska poet laureate Tom Sexton, Riina Katajavuori, Yuri Vaella, Gunnar Randversson, and dozens of other established and emerging poets, this wonderful collection of voices from the northern latitudes will be a great read for all lovers of poetry and international literature.
Collected here are poems from Peter Oresick’s previous books, beginning with The Story of Glass (1977), and to them are added 36 new poems called Under the Carpathians. His work—known for working class and Catholic themes—probes labor and social history, post-World War II America, Eastern European identity, Eastern Rite Catholicism, and Russian icons and fine art and especially Pittsburgh-born pop art icon Andy Warhol.
From Thomas Jefferson to John Rawls, justice has been at the center of America’s self-image and national creed. At the same time, for many of its peoples-from African slaves and European immigrants to women and the poor-the American experience has been defined by injustice: oppression, disenfranchisement, violence, and prejudice.
In Identity and the Failure of America, John Michael explores the contradictions between a mythic national identity promising justice to all and the realities of a divided, hierarchical, and frequently iniquitous history and social order. Through a series of insightful readings, Michael analyzes such cultural moments as the epic dramatization of the tension between individual ambition and communal complicity in Moby-Dick, attempts to effect social change through sympathy in the novels of Lydia Marie Child and Harriet Beecher Stowe, Ralph Waldo Emerson’s antislavery activism and Frederick Douglass’s long fight for racial equity, and the divisive figures of John Brown and Nat Turner in American letters and memory.
Focusing on exemplary instances when the nature of the United States as an essentially conflicted nation turned to force, Michael ultimately posits the development of a more cosmopolitan American identity, one that is more fully and justly imagined in response to the nation’s ethical failings at home and abroad.
John Michael is professor of English and of visual and cultural studies at the University of Rochester. He is the author of Anxious Intellects: Academic Professionals, Public Intellectuals, and Enlightenment Values and Emerson and Skepticism: The Cipher of the World.
If No Moon
Moira Linehan Southern Illinois University Press, 2006 Library of Congress PS3612.I538I35 2007 | Dewey Decimal 811.6
If No Moon by award-winning author Moira Linehan documents the effects of profound loss and the dark withdrawal into grief. Wherever the author turns—the landscape of her backyard in Massachusetts, a Trappist monastery in Kentucky, the museums of Florence, or the cliffs of Inishmor in Ireland—she sees only the geography of emptiness. Crossovers between craft and art, form and voice, knitting and memory, recur throughout the poems. Lying within the tradition of narrative poetry, elegy, and the lyric, the collection reveals the mysterious journey of return. Coming full circle to find again the lyrical and the transcendent within the everyday, beauty eventually wins out. If No Moon, accessible to all who have or will experience loss, is the voice of one who has come to understand that there is no other work but starting over.
If One of Us Should Fall
Nicole Terez Dutton University of Pittsburgh Press, 2012 Library of Congress PS3604.U777I38 2012 | Dewey Decimal 811.6
Winner of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize
“Nicole Terez Dutton’s fierce and formidable debut throbs with restless beauty and a lyrical undercurrent that is both empowered and unpredictable. Every poem is unsettling in that delicious way that changes and challenges the reader. There is nothing here that does not hurtle forward.”<br>
If the House
Molly Spencer University of Wisconsin Press, 2019 Library of Congress PS3619.P4658A6 2019 | Dewey Decimal 811.6
Illiterate Heart: Poems
Meena Alexander Northwestern University Press, 2002 Library of Congress PR9499.3.A46I45 2002 | Dewey Decimal 811.54
Winner, 2002 PEN Open Book Award
Recipient, 2008 Guggenheim Fellowship
Meena Alexander's poetry emerges as a consciousness moving between the worlds of memory and the present, enhanced by multiple languages. Her experience of exile is translated into the intimate exploration of her connections to both India and America. In one poem the thirteenth-century Persian poet Rumi visits with her while she speaks on the phone in her New York apartment, and in another she evokes fellow-poet Allen Ginsberg in the India she herself has left behind. Drawing on the fascinating images and languages of her dual life, Alexander deftly weaves together contradictory geographies, thoughts, and feelings.
Illness as Narrative
Ann Jurecic University of Pittsburgh Press, 2012 Library of Congress PS228.D57J87 2012 | Dewey Decimal 810.93561
For most of literary history, personal confessions about illness were considered too intimate to share publicly. By the mid-twentieth century, however, a series of events set the stage for the emergence of the illness narrative. The increase of chronic disease, the transformation of medicine into big business, the women’s health movement, the AIDS/HIV pandemic, the advent of inexpensive paperbacks, and the rise of self-publishing all contributed to the proliferation of narratives about encounters with medicine and mortality.
While the illness narrative is now a staple of the publishing industry, the genre itself has posed a problem for literary studies. What is the role of criticism in relation to personal accounts of suffering? Can these narratives be judged on aesthetic grounds? Are they a collective expression of the lost intimacy of the patient-doctor relationship? Is their function thus instrumental—to elicit the reader’s empathy?
To answer these questions, Ann Jurecic turns to major works on pain and suffering by Susan Sontag, Elaine Scarry, and Eve Sedgwick and reads these alongside illness narratives by Jean-Dominique Bauby, Reynolds Price, and Anne Fadiman, among others. In the process, she defines the subgenres of risk and pain narratives and explores a range of critical responses guided, alternately, by narrative empathy, the hermeneutics of suspicion, and the practice of reparative reading. Illness as Narrative seeks to draw wider attention to this form of life writing and to argue for new approaches to both literary criticism and teaching narrative. Jurecic calls for a practice that’s both compassionate and critical. She asks that we consider why writers compose stories of illness, how readers receive them, and how both use these narratives to make meaning of human fragility and mortality.
Sonia Sanchez is a prolific, award-winning poet and one of the most prominent writers in the Black Arts movement. This collection brings her plays together in one volume for the first time. Like her poetry, Sanchez’s plays voice her critique of the racism and sexism that she encountered as a young female writer in the black militant community in the late 1960s and early 1970s, her ongoing concern with the well-being of the black community, and her commitment to social justice. In addition to The Bronx Is Next (1968), Sister Son/ji (1969), Dirty Hearts (1971), Malcolm/Man Don’t Live Here No Mo (1972), and Uh, Uh; But How Do It Free Us? (1974), this collection includes the never-before-published dramas I’m Black When I’m Singing, I’m Blue When I Ain’t (1982) and 2 X 2 (2009), as well as three essays in which Sanchez reflects on her art and activism. Jacqueline Wood’s introduction illuminates Sanchez’s stagecraft in relation to her poetry and advocacy for social change, and the feminist dramatic voice in black revolutionary art.
Although German Americans number almost 43 million and are the largest ethnic group in the United States, scholars of American literature have paid little attention to this influential and ethnically diverse cultural group. In a work of unparalleled depth and range, Waldemar Zacharasiewicz explores the cultural and historical background of the varied images of Germany and Germans throughout the past two centuries. Using an interdisciplinary approach known as comparative imagology, which borrows from social psychology and cultural anthropology, Zacharasiewicz samples a broad spectrum of original sources, including literary works, letters, diaries, autobiographical accounts, travelogues, newspaper reports, films, and even cartoons and political caricatures.
Starting with the notion of Germany as the ideal site for academic study and travel in the nineteenth century and concluding with the twentieth-century image of Germany as an aggressive country, this innovative work examines the ever-changing image of Germans and Germany in the writings of Louisa May Alcott, Samuel Clemens, Henry James, William James, George Santayana, W. E. B. Du Bois, John Dewey, H. L. Mencken, Katherine Anne Porter, Kay Boyle, Thomas Wolfe, Upton Sinclair, Gertrude Stein, Kurt Vonnegut, Thomas Pynchon, William Styron, Walker Percy, and John Hawkes, among others.
The Imaginary and Its Worlds collects essays that boldly rethink the imaginary as a key concept for cultural criticism. Addressing both the emergence and the reproduction of the social, the imaginary is ideally suited to chart the consequences of the transnational turn in American studies. Leading scholars in the field from the United States and Europe address the literary, social, and political dimensions of the imaginary, providing a methodological and theoretical groundwork for American studies scholarship in the transnational era and opening new arenas for conceptualizing formations of imaginary belonging and subjectivity. This important state-of-the-field collection will appeal to a broad constituency of humanists working to overcome methodological nationalism. The Imaginary and Its Worlds: An Introduction • LITERARY IMAGINARIES • Imagining Cultures: The Transnational Imaginary in Postrace America - Ramón Saldívar • The Necessary Fragmentation of the (U.S.) Literary-Cultural Imaginary - Lawrence Buell • Imaginaries of American Modernism - Heinz Ickstadt • SOCIAL IMAGINARIES • William James versus Charles Taylor: Philosophy of Religion and the Confines of the Social and Cultural Imaginaries - Herwig Friedl • The Shaping of We-Group Identities in the African American Community: A Perspective of Figurational Sociology on the Cultural Imaginary - Christa Buschendorf • Russia’s Californio Romance: The Other Shores of Whitman’s Pacific - Lene Johannessen • Form Games: Staging Life in the Systems Epoch - Mark Seltzer • POLITICAL IMAGINARIES • Real Toads - Walter Benn Michaels • Obama Unwound: The Romanticism of Victory and the Defeat of Compromise - Christopher Newfield • Barack Obama’s Orphic Mysteries - Donald E. Pease • Coda. The Imaginary and the Second Narrative: Reading as Transfer - Winfried Fluck • Contributors • Index
When Americans today think of the Religious Society of Friends, better known as Quakers, they may picture the smiling figure on boxes of oatmeal. But since their arrival in the American colonies in the 1650s, Quakers’ spiritual values and social habits have set them apart from other Americans. And their example—whether real or imagined—has served as a religious conscience for an expanding nation.
Portrayals of Quakers—from dangerous and anarchic figures in seventeenth-century theological debates to moral exemplars in twentieth-century theater and film (Grace Kelly in High Noon, for example)—reflected attempts by writers, speechmakers, and dramatists to grapple with the troubling social issues of the day. As foils to more widely held religious, political, and moral values, members of the Society of Friends became touchstones in national discussions about pacifism, abolition, gender equality, consumer culture, and modernity.
Spanning four centuries, Imaginary Friends takes readers through the shifting representations of Quaker life in a wide range of literary and visual genres, from theological debates, missionary work records, political theory, and biography to fiction, poetry, theater, and film. It illustrates the ways that, during the long history of Quakerism in the United States, these “imaginary” Friends have offered a radical model of morality, piety, and anti-modernity against which the evolving culture has measured itself.
The Imaginary Lover
Alicia Suskin Ostriker University of Pittsburgh Press, 1986 Library of Congress PS3565.S84I5 1986 | Dewey Decimal 811.54
• Winner of the 1987 William Carlos Williams Award presented by the Poetry Society of America
With The Imaginary Lover, Alicia Suskin Ostriker takes her place among the most striking and original poets whose work is informed by feminist consciousness. Her characterization of the best poetry by women, in the New York Times Book Review, aptly describes this book: “intimate rather than remote, passionate rather than distant, defying divisions between emotion and intellect, private and public, life and art, writer and reader.” To read her poems is to “discover not only more of what it means to be a woman but more of what it means to be human.”
One of the most popular serious writers of the mid-nineteenth century, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., was a major figure of the New England Renaissance and wrote seven volumes of imaginative prose that were hybrids of essay and fiction. His four table-talk books initiated the form of the dramatized essay, and his three novels—styled as romances “medicated” by intellectual discourse—were among the first examples of ideologically didactic fiction.
Michael A. Weinstein now traces Holmes’s intellectual trajectory across these works to show how his thought evolved over the course of his life and in response to America’s transition from an agrarian to an industrial society. Through close readings of this eclectic ouevre—including such lesser-known late works as A Mortal Antipathy and Over the Teacups—he offers a comprehensive interpretation of Holmes’s thought concerning the American national character, showing him to have had a far richer understanding of human experience than other scholars have previously supposed.
This is the first book to consider Holmes’s imaginative prose as a whole and to defend its systematic structure against critics who have branded him a dilettante lacking system or seriousness. Through a careful explication of characters and themes, Weinstein finds at the core of these works a high regard for self-determination as a quintessential American value: an affirmation of the freedom of individuals to decide for themselves how to respond to a human condition that can be as perilous as it is promising. In the course of his analysis, Weinstein engages the spectrum of Holmes criticism and also shows how Holmes anticipated the cultural problems of modernity, pluralism, psychoanalysis, and existentialism, as well as postmodern literary expression.
Through his insightful assessment, Weinstein gives us an author whose respect for individual judgment is as relevant in today’s society, torn by cultural politics, as it was in his own time. His book restores Holmes to his place in the canon while introducing a wider readership to a perceptive writer who offers not only insight into the moral possibilities of American identity but also genuine wit and wisdom about the art of living.
By conducting "imagined dialogues" between selected literary works--Eastern Europeans like Kiš and Borowski on one hand, American and English writers like Cage and Ishiguro on the other--this book proposes an effective new way of reading literature, one that goes beyond the narrowing categories of contemporary critical trends. A new perspective on each of the works emerges, as well as a heightened sense of the liberating power of literature.
Imagining Adoption looks at representations of adoption in an array of literary genres by diverse authors including George Eliot, Edward Albee, and Barbara Kingsolver as well as ordinary adoptive mothers and adoptee activists, exploring what these writings share and what they debate.
Marianne Novy is Professor of English and Women's Studies, University of Pittsburgh.
For centuries, Asian immigrants have been making vital contributions to the cultures of North and South America. Yet in many of these countries, Asians are commonly viewed as undifferentiated racial “others,” lumped together as chinos regardless of whether they have Chinese ancestry. How might this struggle for recognition in their adopted homelands affect the ways that Asians in the Americas imagine community and cultural identity?
The essays in Imagining Asia in the Americas investigate the myriad ways that Asians throughout the Americas use language, literature, religion, commerce, and other cultural practices to establish a sense of community, commemorate their countries of origin, and anticipate the possibilities presented by life in a new land. Focusing on a variety of locations across South America, Central America, the Caribbean, and the United States, the book’s contributors reveal the rich diversity of Asian American identities. Yet taken together, they provide an illuminating portrait of how immigrants negotiate between their native and adopted cultures.
Drawing from a rich array of source materials, including texts in Spanish, Portuguese, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, and Gujarati that have never before been translated into English, this collection represents a groundbreaking work of scholarship. Through its unique comparative approach, Imagining Asia in the Americas opens up a conversation between various Asian communities within the Americas and beyond.
Deliberation, in recent years, has emerged as a form of civic engagement worth reclaiming. In this persuasive book, Sandra M. Gustafson combines historical literary analysis and political theory in order to demonstrate that current democratic practices of deliberation are rooted in the civic rhetoric that flourished in the early American republic.
Though the U.S. Constitution made deliberation central to republican self-governance, the ethical emphasis on group deliberation often conflicted with the rhetorical focus on persuasive speech. From Alexis de Tocqueville’s ideas about the deliberative basis of American democracy through the works of Walt Whitman, John Dewey, John F. Kennedy, and Martin Luther King Jr., Gustafson shows how writers and speakers have made the aesthetic and political possibilities of deliberation central to their autobiographies, manifestos, novels, and orations. Examining seven key writers from the early American republic—including James Fenimore Cooper, David Crockett, and Daniel Webster—whose works of deliberative imagination explored the intersections of style and democratic substance, Gustafson offers a mode of historical and textual analysis that displays the wide range of resources imaginative language can contribute to political life.
The literary image of Los Angeles has evolved since the 1880s from promotional literature that hyped the region as a New Eden to contemporary visions of the city as a perplexing, sometimes corrupt, even apocalyptic place that reflects all that is wrong with America. In Imagining Los Angeles, the first literary history of the city in more than fifty years, critic David Fine traces the history and mood of the place through the work of writers as diverse as Helen Hunt Jackson, Mary Austin, Norman Mailer, Raymond Chandler, Joan Didion, Carolyn See, and many others. His lively and engaging text focuses on the way these writers saw Los Angeles and used the image of the city as an element in their work, and on how that image has changed as the city itself became ever larger, more complex, and more socially and ethnically diverse. This is essential reading for anyone interested in the literature and changing image of Southern California.
Forests have always been more than just their trees. The forests in Michigan (and similar forests in other Great Lakes states such as Wisconsin and Minnesota) played a role in the American cultural imagination from the beginnings of European settlement in the early nineteenth century to the present. Our relationships with those forests have been shaped by the cultural attitudes of the times, and people have invested in them both moral and spiritual meanings.
Author John Knott draws upon such works as Simon Schama's Landscape and Memory and Robert Pogue Harrison's Forests: The Shadow of Civilization in exploring ways in which our
relationships with forests have been shaped, using Michigan---its history of settlement, popular literature, and forest management controversies---as an exemplary case. Knott looks at such well-known figures as William Bradford, James Fenimore Cooper, John Muir, John Burroughs, and Teddy Roosevelt; Ojibwa conceptions of the forest and natural world (including how Longfellow mythologized them); early explorer accounts; and contemporary literature set in the Upper Peninsula, including Jim Harrison's True North and Philip Caputo's Indian Country.
Two competing metaphors evolved over time, Knott shows: the forest as howling wilderness, impeding the progress of civilization and in need of subjugation, and the forest as temple or cathedral, worthy of reverence and protection. Imagining the Forestshows the origin and development of both.
From Herman Melville’s Queequeg to Ken Kesey’s Chief Bromden, primitive characters have played key roles in literature and have generally emerged as enduring and sympathetic figures. In this book, Gina M. Rossetti focuses on works by Jack London, Frank Norris, Eugene O’Neill, Theodore Dreiser, Willa Cather, Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, and Nella Larsen, arguing that primitive literary characters reveal complex and culturally based assumptions.
In the period of 1895 to 1929, Rossetti asserts, the primitive serves as a literary figure whose presence might link naturalism and modernism. Defining the primitive as “the dominant culture’s projection of its internal fear, anxieties, and attractions,” Rossetti explores how the working class and racial and ethnic minorities came to occupy the position of “primitives” and the degree to which more privileged individuals imagined themselves through the lens of this sometimes denigrated and sometimes romanticized Other. For the selected naturalist authors, the primitive is rendered in a Darwinian context, representing a figure whose presence will jeopardize American cultural identity by being evolutionarily inferior.
In modernist literature of the twentieth century, however, the primitive separates from Darwinism and becomes aestheticized. In much of the literature from this period, the primitive functions as a naive posture for the artist to assume in order to escape the complications of modern life.
The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were a time of growing concern for the “vanishing Anglo Saxon,” and the primitive figure is often linked with theories of race. In this context, the racial primitive reflects the culture’s need for, and perpetuation of, a racial Other who gives body and shape to American identity. The final evocation of the primitive combines both the naturalists’ preoccupation with race-based notions of personhood and the modernists’ desire for a romantic escape.
Whether the primitive is invoked positively or negatively, Rossetti argues, it delineates the limits of American identity and, in the time period covered, often induces a double-edged response. The primitive’s marginality suggests the degree to which authors, privileged and otherwise, rely on its embedded presence in our national literature. Rossetti ultimately demonstrates that the primitive is not static but rather inconsistent and transformational, the source from which many naturalist and modernist texts project their concerns, fears, and contradictions.
Imagining Wild America
John Knott University of Michigan Press, 2002 Library of Congress PS163.K58 2002 | Dewey Decimal 810.936
At a time when the idea of wilderness is being challenged by both politicians and intellectuals, Imagining Wild America examines writing about wilderness and wildness and makes a case for its continuing value. The book focuses on works by John James Audubon, Henry David Thoreau, John Muir, Edward Abbey, Wendell Berry, and Mary Oliver, as each writer illustrates different stages and dimensions of the American fascination with wild nature. John Knott traces the emergence of a visionary tradition that embraces values consciously understood to be ahistorical, showing that these writers, while recognizing the claims of history and the interdependence of nature and culture, also understand and attempt to represent wild nature as something different, other.
A contribution to the growing literature of eco-criticism, the book is a response to and critique of recent arguments about the constructed nature of wilderness. Imagining Wild America demonstrates the richness and continuing importance of the idea of wilderness, and its attraction for American writers.
John R. Knott is Professor of English, University of Michigan. His previous books include The Huron River: Voices from the Watershed, coedited with Keith Taylor.
In the early 1920s, Fannie Hurst’s enormous popularity made her the highest-paid writer in America. She conquered the literary scene at the same time the silent movie industry began to emerge as a tremendously profitable and popular form of entertainment. Abe C. Ravitz parallels Hurst’s growing acclaim with the evolution of silent films, from which she borrowed ideas and techniques that furthered her career. Ravitz notes that Hurst was amazingly adept at anticipating what the public wanted. Sensing that the national interest was shifting from rural to urban subjects, Hurst set her immigrant tales and her "woiking goil" tales in urban America. In her early stories, she tried to bridge the gap between Old World and New World citizens, each somewhat fearful and suspicious of the other. She wrote of love and ethnicity—bringing the Jewish Mother to prominence—of race relations and prejudice, of the woman alone in her quest for selfhood. Ravitz argues, in fact, that her socially oriented tales and her portraits of women in the city clearly identify her as a forerunner of contemporary feminism.
Ravitz brings to life the popular culture from 1910 through the 1920s, tracing the meteoric rise of Hurst and depicting the colorful cast of characters surrounding her. He reproduces for the first time the Hurst correspondence with Theodore Dreiser, Charles and Kathleen Norris, and Gertrude Atherton. Fellow writers Rex Beach and Vachel Lindsay also play important roles in Ravitz’s portrait of Hurst, as does Zora Neale Hurston, who awakened Hurst’s interest in the Harlem Renaissance and in race relations, as shown in Hurst’s novel Imitation of Life.
Much ink has been spilled on how art intersects with the experiences of everyday life. But what about art grappling with how to live differently? Artists occupy an exceptional space where their livelihood permeates all aspects of life, eroding boundaries between the personal, the professional, and the political. This raises a little-analyzed question: Beyond making a living, how are artists making life?
Immersive Life Practices talks to Chicago-based artists and authors about life as an art practice and art as a life practice. The contributors explore a range of concerns, from how to be holistic, ethical, or practical; to how to balance life and work; to formal questions of how to represent a never-ending project. Some speak fondly of long-term collaborative relationships that sustain their work, while others place emphasis on the physical space in and outside the city as necessary to keep them grounded. Engaging and honest, the essays and interviews in this collection will resonate with anyone working to create a life—and an art—worth living.
Immersive Life Practices is part of the new Chicago Social Practice History series, edited by Mary Jane Jacob and Kate Zeller in the Department of Exhibitions and Exhibition Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC).
In Immersive Words, Michelle Jarenski demonstrates that the contemporary challenge that visual images and virtual environments in cinema and photography, on the web, and in video games pose to reading and writing are not uniquely contemporary developments but equally exercised the imaginations, anxieties, and works of nineteenth-century authors.
The middle of the nineteenth century witnessed the emergence of numerous visual technologies and techniques: the daguerreotype, immersive exhibition spaces such as cycloramas and panoramas, mechanized tourism, and large-scale exhibitions and spectacles such as the World’s Fair. In closely argued chapters devoted to these four visual forms, Jarenski demonstrates that the popularity of these novelties catalyzed a shift by authors of the period beyond narratives that merely described images to ones that invoked aesthetic experiences.
Jarenski describes how Herman Melville adapts the aesthetic of the daguerreotype through his use of dramatic point-of-view and unexpected shifts that disorient readers. Frederick Douglass is shown to appropriate a panoramic aesthetic that severs spatial and temporal narratives from standard expectations. Jarenski traces how Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Marble Faun found success as a travel guide to Rome, though intended as a work of serious fiction. Finally, Sarah Orne Jewett is shown to simulate the interactivity of the World Columbian Exposition to promote racialized and gendered forms of aesthetic communication. These techniques and strategies drawn from visual forms blur the just-so boundary critics and theorists have traditionally drawn between text and image.
In the mid-nineteenth century, the national identity of the United States remained fluid and hinged upon matters of gender, sexuality, and, crucially, race. Authors both reflected that evolving identity and contributed to its ongoing evolution. In demonstrating how the aesthetic and visual technologies of the nineteenth century changed the fundamental aesthetics of American literature, the importance of Immersive Words goes far beyond literary criticism.
In Immigrant Acts, Lisa Lowe argues that understanding Asian immigration to the United States is fundamental to understanding the racialized economic and political foundations of the nation. Lowe discusses the contradictions whereby Asians have been included in the workplaces and markets of the U.S. nation-state, yet, through exclusion laws and bars from citizenship, have been distanced from the terrain of national culture. Lowe argues that a national memory haunts the conception of Asian American, persisting beyond the repeal of individual laws and sustained by U.S. wars in Asia, in which the Asian is seen as the perpetual immigrant, as the “foreigner-within.” In Immigrant Acts, she argues that rather than attesting to the absorption of cultural difference into the universality of the national political sphere, the Asian immigrant—at odds with the cultural, racial, and linguistic forms of the nation—displaces the temporality of assimilation. Distance from the American national culture constitutes Asian American culture as an alternative site that produces cultural forms materially and aesthetically in contradiction with the institutions of citizenship and national identity. Rather than a sign of a “failed” integration of Asians into the American cultural sphere, this critique preserves and opens up different possibilities for political practice and coalition across racial and national borders. In this uniquely interdisciplinary study, Lowe examines the historical, political, cultural, and aesthetic meanings of immigration in relation to Asian Americans. Extending the range of Asian American critique, Immigrant Acts will interest readers concerned with race and ethnicity in the United States, American cultures, immigration, and transnationalism.
In The Immigrant Kitchen: Food, Ethnicity, and Diaspora, Vivian Nun Halloran examines food memoirs by immigrants and their descendants and reveals how their treatment of food deeply embeds concerns about immigrant identity in the United States. Halloran argues that by offering a glimpse into the authors’ domestic lives through discussions of homemade food, these memoirs demystify the processes of immigration, assimilation, acculturation, and expatriation—ultimately examining what it means to live as naturalized citizens of the United States. Having grown up hearing about their parents’ often fraught experiences of immigration, these authors examine the emotional toll these stories took and how such stories continue to affect their view of themselves as Americans. Halloran covers a wide swathe of immigrant food memoirs, moving seamlessly between works by authors such as Austin Clarke, Madhur Jaffrey, Kim Sunée, Diana Abu-Jaber, Eduardo Machado, Colette Rossant, Maya Angelou, and Jonathan Safran Foer.
The Immigrant Kitchen describes how these memoirs function as a complex and engaging mass media genre that caters to multiple reading constituencies. Specifically, they entertain readers with personal anecdotes and recollections, teach new culinary skills through recipes, share insight into different cultural mores through ethnographic and reportorial discussions of life in other countries, and attest to the impact that an individual’s legal immigration into the United States continues to have down through the generations of his or her American-born families.
Mihaela Moscaliuc University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015
Dewey Decimal 811.6
The poems in Immigrant Model explore issues of individual and communal identity in the face of conflict, conflicting "truths" or histories, and uprootedness. They explore the notion of homeland as it relates to one's roots, adopted space, psychological terrain, gendered body. If the book reads as a collage of voices or shards rather than as a book with an identifiable arc, it's because that's the only way the poet has managed to answer, so far, the question, "What is it like to be of this world and this world and this world, while also of the elsewhere skirting these worlds?"
Alan Feldman University of Wisconsin Press, 2015 Library of Congress PS3556.E458A6 2015 | Dewey Decimal 811.54
“Drop the personal,” Alan Feldman’s best friend advises. But what else does he have? Feldman takes his title from Zhivago’s interpretations of the afterlife: “Your soul, your immortality, your life in others.”
In a collection where the dead do speak, Feldman’s poems in his first segment, “Self-Portraits,” are more likely to be about others than about himself. The segment “Partners” reflects on marriage and divorce, the latter an “uncontested victor over marriage, / the way the flood is champion over the flood plain.” In the section “Offshore” Feldman writes about travel to Uruguay, his impractical love of sailing, and his wonder at Walter Cronkite’s obtuseness about Vietnam. In his final segment, “What Now?,” he asks about meaning itself. Babysitting his tiny granddaughter, he thinks of sailing—hours of boredom punctuated by moments of terror—and wonders if even this suggests something world-encompassing he’s “still hoping to find a name for. / If it isn’t joy.”
Winner of the Mass Book Award for Poetry, Massachusetts Center for the Book
George Bilgere University of Pittsburgh Press, 2014
In Imperial, George Bilgere’s sixth collection of poetry, he continues his exploration of the beauties, mysteries, and absurdities of being middle-aged and middle-class in mid-America. In poems that range from the Cold War anxieties of the 1950s to the perils and predicaments of an aging Boomer in a post-9/11 world, Bilgere’s rueful humor and slippery syntax become a trapdoor that at any moment can plunge the reader into the abyss. In Bilgere’s world a yo-yo morphs into an emblem for the atomic bomb. A spot of cancer flames into the Vietnam War. And the death of a baseball player reminds us, in this age of disbelief, of the importance—the necessity—of myth.
Imperial Liquor is a chronicle of melancholy, a reaction to the monotony of racism. These poems concern loneliness, fear, fatigue, rage, and love; they hold fatherhood held against the vulnerability of the black male body, aging, and urban decay. Part remembrance, part swan song for the Compton, California of the 1980s, Johnson examines the limitations of romance to heal broken relationships or rebuild a broken city. Slow Jams, red-lit rooms, cheap liquor, like seduction and betrayal—what’s more American? This book tracks echoes, rides the residue of music “after the love is gone.”
the most dangerous men
in my neighborhood
only listened to love songs
to reach those notes
a musicologist told me
a man essentially cuts
his own throat. some nights
even now, i’ll hear a falsetto
and think i should run
Impersonality: Seven Essays
Sharon Cameron University of Chicago Press, 2007 Library of Congress PS169.S425C36 2007 | Dewey Decimal 814.3
Philosophers have long debated the subjects of person and personhood. Sharon Cameron ushers this debate into the literary realm by considering impersonality in the works of major American writers and figures of international modernism—writers for whom personal identity is inconsequential and even imaginary. In essays on William Empson, Jonathan Edwards, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Herman Melville, T. S. Eliot, and Simone Weil, Cameron examines the impulse to hollow out the core of human distinctiveness, to construct a voice that is no one’s voice, to fashion a character without meaningful attributes, a being that is virtually anonymous.
“To consent to being anonymous,” Weil wrote, “is to bear witness to the truth. But how is this compatible with social life and its labels?” Throughout these essays Cameron examines the friction, even violence, set in motion from such incompatibility—from a “truth” that has no social foundation. Impersonality investigates the uncompromising nature of writing that suspends, eclipses, and even destroys the person as a social, political, or individual entity, of writing that engages with personal identity at the moment when its usual markers vanish or dissolve.
The Imprint of Another Life: Adoption Narratives and Human Possibilityaddresses a series of questions about common beliefs about adoption. Underlying these beliefs is the assumption that human qualities are innate and intrinsic, an assumption often held by adoptees and their families, sometimes at great emotional cost. This book explores representations of adoption—transracial, transnational, and domestic same-race adoption—that reimagine human possibility by questioning this assumption and conceiving of alternatives.
Literary scholar Margaret Homans examines fiction making’s special relationship to themes of adoption, an “as if” form of family making, fabricated or fictional instead of biological or “real.” Adoption has tended to generate stories rather than uncover bedrock truths. Adoptive families are made, not born; in the words of novelist Jeanette Winterson, “adopted children are self-invented because we have to be.” In attempting to recover their lost histories and identities, adoptees create new stories about themselves. While some believe that adoptees cannot be whole unless they reconnect with their origins, others believe that privileging biology reaffirms hierarchies (such as those of race) that harm societies and individuals. Adoption is lived and represented through an irresolvable tension between belief in the innate nature of human traits and belief in their constructedness, contingency, and changeability. The book shows some of the ways in which literary creation, and a concept of adoption as a form of creativity, manages this tension.
The texts examined include fiction (e.g., classic novels such as Silas Marner, What Maisie Knew, and Beloved); memoirs by adoptees, adoptive parents, and birthmothers; drama, documentary films, advice manuals, social science writing; and published interviews with adoptees, parents, and birth parents. Along the way the book tracks the quests of adoptees who, whether or not they meet their original families, must construct their own stories rather than finding them; follows transnational adoptees as they return, hopes held high, to Korea and China; looks over the shoulders of a generation of girls adopted from China as they watch Disney’s iconic Mulan, with its alluring story of destiny written on the skin; and listens to birthmothers as they struggle to tell painful secrets held for decades.
This book engages in debates within adoption studies, women’s and gender studies, transnational studies, and ethnic studies; it will appeal to literary scholars and critics, including specialists in memoir or narrative theory, and to general readers interested in adoption and in race.
The Improbable Swervings of Atoms follows the comedic, often painful, physical and emotional travails of a young boy growing up in 1950s America. He watches the McCarthy hearings, conquers the Congo, assassinates the president, has his head stuffed into a toilet, drops his uniform on the fifty-yard line, and tries to make sense of Lucretius’s De Rerum Natura.
The poems engage history in a very intimate way, revealing how a boy, as he matures, attempts to understand the world around him, his own physical development, the people in his life, and what it means to live in a country and time where it is impossible to disengage oneself from world events—where, in fact, the quest for identity is an act that requires one to rewrite history in personal terms.
In an Angry Season
Lisa D. Chávez University of Arizona Press, 2001 Library of Congress PS3553.H3463I5 2001 | Dewey Decimal 811.6
A white woman navigates her fear and uncertainty to learn the ways of the people she called savages, until she begins to dream “in Dakota, syllables sliding / on my tongue like tender pieces of meat.” An African man, on display as a cannibal at the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893, sees into the future: “humiliations heaped up / as on overfilled plates . . . / . . . a country that casually / consumes its own.” A woman holds the gray-blue barrel of a gun in her mouth, “the taste familiar / as her own blood.”
With an unexcelled command of narrative verse, Lisa Chávez tells the stories of American lives across more than a century. Whether retelling nineteenth-century captivity narratives or depicting contemporary American women confronting addiction and despair, Chávez investigates issues of identity and self-definition in the face of an often harsh and unremitting history.
Her story-poems explore the ways in which people have been made captive—whether to racism or national policy, to bad marriages or alcoholism, to poverty or emotion—from the Inuit woman birthing a son among strangers to the wife now deranged by desire for another man: “He’s the smoky slow-burn of chipotle on the tongue. My golden idol. My gospel revival. He’s hashish sweet and languorous—my body’s one desire.”
In the end, Chávez shows us a New World of promise in which an alchemist’s assistant summons stories from stones by calling their names with “clicks of her tongue, / syllables of silver, turquoise, and jade,” and a Native woman discovers her true power in an Alaskan bar. Passionate and political, In an Angry Season is a work of startling depth and breadth—an American history in poetry—that asks us what it means to be civilized.
In Broken Latin: Poems
Annette Spaulding-Convy University of Arkansas Press, 2012 Library of Congress PS3619.P3725I5 2012 | Dewey Decimal 811.6
In Broken Latin explores in a series of deft, witty, sexy, and soulful poems the misunderstood, idealized, and marginalized life of a modern Roman Catholic nun. In these poems, set in the patriarchal institution of the convent, Annette Spaulding-Convy comments on the American woman's struggle for spiritual identity in contemporary culture through the voice of an ex-nun now mother/wife creating a life for herself in the world, while searching for an ethical, spiritual meaning not dependent upon traditional religious dogma.
In Every Seam
Allison Joseph University of Pittsburgh Press, 1997 Library of Congress PS3560.O7723I5 1997 | Dewey Decimal 811.54
Joseph presents the events of daily life both plainly and transcendently, as if to summon up the entire cultural setting in which they take place. . . . The triumphant final poem, 'Plenty' is an implied rebuke to any possible misreading of her poems as limited to a poetics of identity, or rooted in the deprivations of history rather than the plenty and richness of her experience, the will and ingenuity of her imagination and her strong poetic gift." --Women's Review of Books
"These poems point to the strong materials needed to make ourselves whole in the modern world. They alert us to the seams we must tug at to see into ourselves." --Yusef Komunyakaa
Allison Joseph is the author of three books and her honors include the 1992 Women Poets Series Competition Award, the 1992 John C. Zacharis First Book Prize, an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Poetry for 1996, and a 1997 Literary Award from the Illinois Arts Council. She is Associate Professor of creative writing and poetry at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.
In Evidence is a collection of poems in the voices of allied troops who liberated Nazi concentration camps in Europe in the sprong of 1945. Barbara Helfgott Hyett heard poems in the eyewitness testimony of United States soldiers. She has shaped the words of thirty speakers into a songle narrative, a single voice.
In the closing decades of the nineteenth century Minnesota produced three young men of great talent who each went east to become writers. Two of them became famous: F. Scott Fitzgerald and Sinclair Lewis. This is the story of the third man: Charles Macomb Flandrau.
Flandrau, a model of style and worldly sophistication and destined, almost everyone agreed, for greatness, was among the most talented young writers of his generation. His short stories about Harvard in the 1890s were called “the first realistic description of undergraduate life in American colleges” and sold out of the first printing in a few weeks. From 1899 to 1902 Flandrau was among the most popular contributors to the Saturday Evening Post. Alexander Woollcott rated him the best essayist in America. And Viva Mexico!, Flandrau’s account of life on a Mexican coffee plantation, is a classic, perhaps the best travel book ever written by an American. Yet Flandrau turned his back on it all. Financially independent, he chose a solitary, epicurean life in St. Paul, Mexico, Majorca, Paris, and Normandy. In later years, he confined his writing to local newspaper pieces and letters to his small circle of family and friends.
Using excerpts from these newspaper columns and unpublished letters, Larry Haeg has painstakingly recreated the story of this urbane, talented, witty, lazy, enigmatic, supremely private man who never reached the peak of literary success to which his talent might have taken him.
This very readable biography provides a detailed and honest portrayal of Flandrau and his times. It will fascinate readers interested in writers’ life stories and scholars of American literature as well as general readers interested in midwestern literary history.
Paul Laurence Dunbar, introduced to the American public by William Dean Howells, was the first native-born African American poet to achieve national and international fame. While there have been many valuable editions of his works over time, gaps have developed when manuscripts were lost or access to uncollected works became difficult.
In His Own Voice brings together previously upublished and uncollected short stories, essays, and poems. This volume also establishes Dunbar's reputation as a dramatist who mastered standard English conventions and used dialect in musical comedy for ironic effects.
In His Own Voice collects more than seventy-five works in six genres. Featured are the previously unpublished play Herrick and two one-act plays, largely ignored for a century, that demonstrate Dunbar's subversion of the minstrel tradition. This generous expansion of the canon also includes a short story never before published.
Herbert Woodward Martin, renowned for his live portrayal of Dunbar, and Ronald Primeau provide a literary and historical context for this previously untreated material, firmly securing the reputation of an important American voice.
In his new collection, Chard deNiord is raising as many questions as he's answering. By acknowledging the paradoxical source of his inspiration, he explores the rewards of unknowing. What can we know in our ignorance?
In Praise of Falling
Cheryl Dumesnil University of Pittsburgh Press, 2009 Library of Congress PS3604.U49I5 2009 | Dewey Decimal 811.6
The poems in this collection are the proverbial spring bulbs abandoned in the basement, growing toward a slim crack of sunlight. They are both aware of the limitations of social structures and forcefully committed to breaking out of those traps, urging toward a better way of living. The characters in these poems resist the twenty-first century’s prescription for a life of emotional-spiritual bankruptcy, reaching toward an ever-elusive glimmer on the horizon.
In Primary Light
John Wood University of Iowa Press, 1994 Library of Congress PS3573.O5946I5 1994 | Dewey Decimal 811.54
John Wood is well known for his brilliant writing on the history of photography, but for many years he has also centered on his work as a poet, publishing in some of the very best magazines and gaining the deep admiration of many writers and poets. This book is testimony of his devotion to his craft – a fully realized, mature, and carefully constructed collection.
The Black Arts Movement (1965–76) consisted of artists across the United States deeply concerned with the relationship between politics and the black aesthetic. In Search of Our Warrior Mothers examines the ways in which black women playwrights in the movement advanced feminist and womanist perspectives from within black nationalist discourses. La Donna L. Forsgren recuperates the careers, artistic theories, and dramatic contributions of four leading playwrights: Martie Evans-Charles, J.e. Franklin, Sonia Sanchez, and Barbara Ann Teer. Using original interviews, production recordings, playbills, and unpublished manuscripts, she investigates how these women, despite operating within a context that equated the collective well-being of black people with black male agency, created works that validated black women's aspirations for autonomy and explored women's roles in the struggle for black liberation.
In Search of Our Warrior Mothers demonstrates the powerful contributions of women to the creation, interpretation, and dissemination of black aesthetic theory, thus opening an interdisciplinary conversation at the intersections of theater, performance, feminist, and African American studies and identifying and critiquing the gaps and silences within these fields.
In Search of the Great Dead
Richard Cecil Southern Illinois University Press, 1999 Library of Congress PS3553.E32I5 1999 | Dewey Decimal 811.54
With grim humor and humorous grimness, In Search of the Great Dead engages the great themes of poetry: death and fame.
The title poem of this collection records Richard Cecil's quest for the tombs of the famous dead. At first the search leads him on a tour of famous European tombstones— the grave of Chateaubriand in St. Malo, the shared tomb of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas in Pere-Lachaise cemetery in Paris, Yeats's old Celtic cross in Sligo— but gradually it expands into areas where all the tombs have been erased by time or vandalism— the tombs of Seneca and Lucan, and all of the great dead poets whose names have been lost. These once famous, now unknown poets lead Cecil to consider those graveyards full of anonymous dead— the civil war soldiers buried under tiny stones with numbers instead of names inscribed on them. Are they more anonymous than the once famous, now forgotten "great" dead?
Though Cecil is wryly aware of his own obscurity, his poems are strangely optimistic and life-affirming. His reply to Emily Dickinson's question: "I'm Nobody— are you / Nobody, too?" is an enthusiastic yes! In Search of the Great Dead conveys the joy of being Nobody and the shy, almost buried hope that someday (after death), he might become Somebody.
In the Belly
David Gewanter University of Chicago Press, 1996 Library of Congress PS3557.E897I5 1997 | Dewey Decimal 811.54
"Gewanter's poetry offers a sense of obstacles, and of obstacles not overcome but ridden and thus dealt with, and is nowhere better illustrated than in 'Conduct of Our Loves.' Read this poem in the book store and you will want to buy the book."—Thom Gunn
Huitzilopochtli has returned. Aztec destroyer, god of sun and war. He of the hummingbird. Son of Coatlique, Our Lady of the Serpent Skin. But you can call him H. H. is reborn in the sprawling suburbs of an American metroplex in the late twentieth century, a place where "the future is a cartoon of the future." Life in suburbia is hard for an Aztec god: H. falls in and out of love, works downtown as an oficinista, raises children, and learns to command the awesome power of modern electronic media. Then one indifferent summer's day H. is seriously wounded by the police—in a case of mistaken identity, of course—and faces death once more.
In the City of Smoking Mirrors relates H.'s adventures as he hovers between life and death, revisiting his homeland and ancestors. He issues letters and edicts—to the faithful, to his dead amigos—and chronicles his circumnavigation of the Land of the Dead and "what he saw there that made him write this book." In tantalizing verse that walks the edge of dream, Albino Carrillo takes readers on a lyrical exploration of a dark netherworld, a quest for hope in a universe overshadowed by impending doom—a place where "The demons you'll have to defeat on your inward journey / Are like so many little yellow hornets buzzing about / Window screens in summer, angry but looking / For anything sweet, any way out . . . ." Through the unforgettable persona of Huitzilopochtli, Carrillo shows us the transitory nature of our passions and wounds as he chisels a new headstone for our times.
Through lyrical procedures of self-immolation, this brave new collection by J. Michael Martinez interrogates the sundry roles language, myth, and sexuality play for the self and the other in the recoverable and irrecoverable past. Parallel to his award-winning first collection Heredities, J. Michael Martinez pushes the boundaries of poetic form, wedding historically oppositional lyrical traditions to deliver a collection unlike any other.
Turning the page into a visual field, as in the deconstructed musical score telling the tale of La Llorona, In the Garden of the Bridehouse questions the line between visual art and poetry. The work employs the vernacular, the stylized language of theory, and the blank canvas of the page in its exploration of the known and unknowable.
Throughout the work, Martinez paradoxically exercises both a lyrical minimalism and a baroque poetic, uniting Mesoamerican preconquest imaginary with the sensuality of the Biblical Song of Songs, cultivating a lyrical space wherein contrasting potentials are—as one—realized in their shared promise.
In the Human Zoo
Jennifer Perrine University of Utah Press, 2011 Library of Congress PS3616.E7924I5 2011 | Dewey Decimal 811.6
Winner of the Agha Shahid Ali Poetry Prize
In the Human Zoo reveals encounters with a world that is both fragile and dangerous, a perilous, surreal place where not only humans but also creatures as innocuous as fireflies and owls become potential threats. Throughout the collection, speakers wrestle with human violence through a multitude of perspectives: the fear and resistance of victims, the frustration and outrage of witnesses, the regret and recognition of a global history in which so many people have participated as perpetrators. While the people who inhabit the world of this collection might yet remain caged, they nevertheless struggle to unleash themselves and each other through language.
In the Kingdom of the Ditch
Todd Davis Michigan State University Press, 2013 Library of Congress PS3604.A977I5 2013 | Dewey Decimal 811.6
In poetry that is at once accessible and finely crafted, Todd Davis maps the mysterious arc between birth and death, celebrating the beauty and pain of our varied entrances and exits, while taking his readers into the deep forests and waterways of the northeastern United States. With an acute sensibility for language unlike any other working poet, Davis captures the smallest nuances in the flowers, trees, and animals he encounters through a daily life spent in the field. Davis draws upon stories and myths from Christian, Transcendental, and Buddhist traditions to explore the intricacies of the spiritual and physical world we too often overlook. In celebrating the abundant life he finds in a ditch—replete with Queen Anne’s lace and milkweed, raspberries and blackberries, goldenrod and daisies—Davis suggests that life is consistently transformed, resurrected by what grows out of the fecundity of our dying bodies. In his fourth collection the poet, praised by The Bloomsbury Review, Arts & Letters, and many others, provides not only a taxonomy of the flora and fauna of his native Pennsylvania but also a new way of speaking about the sacred walk we make with those we love toward the ultimate mystery of death.
In the Name of the Mother examines the cultural relationship between African American intellectuals and Italian American writers and artists, and how it relates to American blackness in the twentieth century. Samuele Pardini links African American literature to the Mediterranean tradition of the Italian immigrants and examines both against the white intellectual discourse that defines modernism in the West. This previously unexamined encounter offers a hybrid, transnational model of modernity capable of producing democratic forms of aesthetics, social consciousness, and political economy. This volume emphasizes the racial “in-betweenness” of Italian Americans rearticulated as “invisible blackness,” a view that enlarges and complicates the color-based dimensions of American racial discourse. This strikingly original work will interest a wide spectrum of scholars in American Studies and the humanities.
The Gulf Coast villages of Bayou La Batre and Coden are two of Alabama’s most distinctive, with roots going back to the French settlements of the 18th century. For generations, the proud inhabitants of these communities have extracted their modest livings from the sea, sustained by a lesson handed down over time— that providing for the needs of one’s family is the only true measure of success. But the world has changed drastically for them. A global economy of higher gas prices and cheap imported seafood has threatened the lifeblood of the area. And in recent years a rash of hurricanes, culminating with Hurricane Katrina, has battered the hopes and dreams of these Bayou towns.
But they have known hard times and massive changes before. In the 1970s, refugees from Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos flooded into the area and within a few years made up a third of the local population. Three Buddhist temples soon took their places among the Catholic, Baptist, and Pentecostal churches that predominated, and for a time the different ethnic groups coexisted in a kind of uneasy peace. But now they are learning to pull together in an uncertain struggle to rebuild their communities.
In the Path of the Storms is a powerful portrait in words and photographs of a unique and unforgettable place. It is a story of tradition, and forces of change, and the epic struggle of these Gulf Coast communities to survive and thrive.
With calm abandon, Rob Schlegel stands among the genderless trees to shake notions of masculinity and fatherhood. Schlegel incorporates the visionary into everyday life, inhabiting patterns of relation that do not rely on easy categories. Working from the premise that poetry is indistinguishable from the life of the poet, Schlegel considers how his relationship to the creative process is forever changed when he becomes something new to someone else. “The meaning I’m trying to protect is,” Schlegel writes, “the heart is neither boy, nor girl.” In the Tree Where the Double Sex Sleeps is a tender search for the mother in the father, the poet in the parent, the forest in the human.
Winner of the 2015 Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize
Winner of the 2017 Bob Bush Memorial Award for Best First Book of Poetry from the Texas Institute of Letters
Miriam Bird Greenberg’s stunning first collection, which roves across a lush, haunting rural America both real and imagined, observed from railyards and roadsides, evokes the world of myth (“I’d spent my childhood / in a house made of bees; on hot days honey // dripped through cracks in the ceiling,” she writes). Yet these capacious, exquisitely tensioned poems are rooted in Greenberg’s experiences hitchhiking and hopping freight trains across North America, or draw from her informal interviews with contemporary nomads, hobos, and others living on society’s edges. Beneath their surface runs a current of violence, whether at the hands of fate or men: she writes “Everyone knows // what happens to women // who hitchhike, constantly // trying a door to the other world made of lake / bottom or low forest, abandoned house // even wild animals / have rejected.” The result is a queering of On the Road, a feminist Frank Stanford at once vulnerable and canny. Richly textured, In the Volcano’s Mouth is an extraordinary portrait of life on the enchanted margins.
Dr. Chris Walsh’s scholarship has resulted in a new study on one of America’s leading authors. In the Wake of the Sun: Navigating the Southern Works of Cormac McCarthy offers close textual analysis of all of McCarthy’s Southern works along with an overview of the notable critical responses to them. The book is designed for use by scholars, teachers, and students at all levels.
McCarthy’s works set in the desert Southwest have received substantial critical and commercial acclaim. However, his Appalachian texts—which include two short stories written as an undergraduate at the University of Tennessee, five novels (including the Pulitzer Prize winner The Road), a play, and a screenplay—rival the Southwestern works in terms of their aesthetic achievement and complexity. In the Wake of the Sun introduces readers, scholars, and students to the pertinent themes in each text while also walking them through the most significant critical dialogues surrounding the texts.
In this original and trenchant work, Christina Sharpe interrogates literary, visual, cinematic, and quotidian representations of Black life that comprise what she calls the "orthography of the wake." Activating multiple registers of "wake"—the path behind a ship, keeping watch with the dead, coming to consciousness—Sharpe illustrates how Black lives are swept up and animated by the afterlives of slavery, and she delineates what survives despite such insistent violence and negation. Initiating and describing a theory and method of reading the metaphors and materiality of "the wake," "the ship," "the hold," and "the weather," Sharpe shows how the sign of the slave ship marks and haunts contemporary Black life in the diaspora and how the specter of the hold produces conditions of containment, regulation, and punishment, but also something in excess of them. In the weather, Sharpe situates anti-Blackness and white supremacy as the total climate that produces premature Black death as normative. Formulating the wake and "wake work" as sites of artistic production, resistance, consciousness, and possibility for living in diaspora, In the Wake offers a way forward.
Since the 1960s, Nuyorican poets have explored and performed Puerto Rican identity both on and off the page. Emerging within and alongside the civil rights movements of the 1960s, the foundational Nuyorican writers sought to counter the ethnic/racial and institutional invisibility of New York City Puerto Ricans by documenting the reality of their communities in innovative and sometimes challenging ways. Since then, Nuyorican poetry has entered the U.S. Latino literary canon and has gained prominence in light of the spoken-word revival of the past two decades, a movement spearheaded by the Nuyorican Poetry Slams of the 1990s. Today, Nuyorican poetry engages with contemporary social issues such as the commodification of the body, the institutionalization of poetry, the gentrification of the barrio, and the national and global marketing of identity. What has not changed is a continued shared investment in a poetics that links the written word and the performing body.
The first book-length study specifically devoted to Nuyorican poetry, In Visible Movement is unique in its historical and formal breadth, ranging from the foundational poets of the 1960s and 1970s to a variety of contemporary poets emerging in and around the Nuyorican Poets Cafe “slam” scene of the 1990s and early 2000s. It also unearths a largely unknown corpus of poetry performances, reading over forty years of Nuyorican poetry at the intersection of the printed and performed word, underscoring the poetry’s links to vernacular and Afro-Puerto Rican performance cultures, from the island’s oral poets to the New York sounds and rhythms of Latin boogaloo, salsa, and hip-hop. With depth and insight, Urayoán Noel analyzes various canonical Nuyorican poems by poets such as Pedro Pietri, Victor Hernández Cruz, Miguel Algarín, Miguel Piñero, Sandra María Esteves, and Tato Laviera. He discusses historically overlooked poets such as Lorraine Sutton, innovative poets typically read outside the Nuyorican tradition such as Frank Lima and Edwin Torres, and a younger generation of Nuyorican-identified poets including Willie Perdomo, María Teresa Mariposa Fernández, and Emanuel Xavier, whose work has received only limited critical consideration. The result is a stunning reflection of how New York Puerto Rican poets have addressed the complexity of identity amid diaspora for over forty years.
Enlightening reexamination of an American ideology of progress and its enduring fascination with mission, Manifest Destiny, and the ends of history.
Westward expansion on the North American continent by European settlers generated a furry of writings on the frontier experience over the course of a hundred years. Asserting that the dominant ideology of America's Manifest Destiny embodied a tense, often contradictory union of Christian and secular republican views of social progress, In the Work of Their Hands Is Their Prayer investigates the ambivalence of the frontier as it was inscribed with redemptive, historical significance by a host of frontier writers.
Enlisting canonical and noncanonical sources, Joel Daehnke examines the manner in which the imagery of the human figure at work and play in the frontier landscape participated in the nationalist, "civilizing" project of westward expansion. While he acknowledges the growing secularization of American life, Professor Daehnke surveys the continuing claims of the Christian redemptive scheme as a powerful symbolic domain for these writers' meditations on social progress and the potential for human perfectibility in the landscapes of the West.
Whether discussing the Edenic imagery of women's gardens, the advocacy of an ethics of land use, or the affairs of fortune in the mining districts of Nevada, In the Work of Their Hands Is Their Prayer presents an enlightening reexamination of an American ideology of progress and its enduring fascination with mission, Manifest Destiny, and the ends of history.
In the Work of Their Hands Is Their Prayer is a welcome addition to the extended library of critical attention to the ideology, history, and literary traditions of the American frontier.
This first collection of fiction by Anjana Appachana provides stories that are beautifully written, the characters in them carefully and respectfully drawn. All the stories are set in India, but the people in them seem somehow displaced within their own society—a society in transition but a transition that does not come fast enough to help them. Appachana manages to capture the pervasive humor, poignancy, and self-delusion of the lives of the people she observes, but she does so without seeming to pass judgments on them. She focuses on unexpected moments, as if catching her characters off guard, lovingly exposing the fragile surfaces of respectability and convention that are so much a part of every society, but particularly strong in India, with its caste system, gender privileges, and omnipresent bureaucracies.
All life seems to be prescribed; these characters bravely or cautiously confront the rules and regulations or finally give in to them resignedly—any small triumphs they achieve are never clear-cut. One of the most unusual aspects of many of the stories is the way in which they are informed by but never ruled by the author's feminism. She never lectures her readers but lets us see for ourselves: a bride caught in a hopeless marriage where she has given up all rights to any life of her own, a hapless college student who is confined to campus for minor infractions just at the time when she had an appointment for an abortion, a young girl who keeps the dark secret of her sister's rape, a woman executive and a digruntled male clerk both trapped in the intricate bureaucracy of their business firm and the roles they must play to survive there. By turns warm, gullible, arrogant and bigoted, all of these characters live their lives amid contradictions and double standards, superstitions and impossible dreams. Appachana's vision is unique, her writing superb. Readers will thank her for allowing them to enter territory that is at once distant and exotic but also familiar and recognizable.
Moira Linehan Southern Illinois University Press, 2015 Library of Congress PS3612.I538A6 2015 | Dewey Decimal 811.6
In her collection Incarnate Grace, poet Moira Linehan explores, questions, and ultimately celebrates her attempt to live in the temple of the present.
After learning she has breast cancer, the poet struggles to live an examined life. Alienated and estranged from her own body, she turns her cancer into “these binoculars, / this new way of looking,” and uses it as a way of fixing herself firmly within the moment. As she travels Ireland and the Pacific Northwest, her busy mind moves from the knot in her breast to the knots in her knitting to the illuminated knots of The Book of Kells to the tossing, knotted surface of the sea; from the margins of her surgery—clean but not ideal—to the margins of illuminated manuscripts. She links the mundane to the mythic, intertwining connections between scripture and nature, storms and loss, winter and light, breast cancer and embroidery. As she returns to her home on a small pond in Massachusetts, she takes with her the fruits of her travels: the incarnate grace of the ordinary.
Vivid and compelling, Incarnate Grace finds beauty in the worst of circumstances and redemption in the fabric of daily life.
Incendiary Art: Poems
Patricia Smith Northwestern University Press, 2017 Library of Congress PS3569.M537839I53 2017 | Dewey Decimal 811.54
Winner, NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work in the Poetry category
Winner, 2018 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award
Winner, 2018 BCALA Best Poetry Award
Winner, 2017 Los Angeles Times Book Prize
Winner, Abel Meeropol Award for Social Justice
Finalist, Neustadt International Prize for Literature
Finalist, 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry
One of the most magnetic and esteemed poets in today’s literary landscape, Patricia Smith fearlessly confronts the tyranny against the black male body and the tenacious grief of mothers in her compelling new collection, Incendiary Art. She writes an exhaustive lament for mothers of the "dark magicians," and revisits the devastating murder of Emmett Till. These dynamic sequences serve as a backdrop for present-day racial calamities and calls for resistance. Smith embraces elaborate and eloquent language— "her gorgeous fallen son a horrid hidden / rot. Her tiny hand starts crushing roses—one by one / by one she wrecks the casket’s spray. It’s how she / mourns—a mother, still, despite the roar of thorns"— as she sharpens her unerring focus on incidents of national mayhem and mourning. Smith envisions, reenvisions, and ultimately reinvents the role of witness with an incendiary fusion of forms, including prose poems, ghazals, sestinas, and sonnets. With poems impossible to turn away from, one of America’s most electrifying writers reveals what is frightening, and what is revelatory, about history.
At no other time in American history has our imagination been so engrossed with the Arab experience. An indispensable and historic volume, Inclined to Speak gathers together poems, from the most important contemporary Arab American poets, that shape and alter our understanding of this experience. These poems also challenge us to reconsider what it means to be American. Impressive in its scope, this book provides readers with an astonishing array of poetic sensibilities, touching on every aspect of the human condition. Whether about culture, politics, loss, art, or language itself, the poems here engage these themes with originality, dignity, and an unyielding need not only to speak, but also to be heard. Here are thirty-nine poets offering up 160 poems. Included in the anthology are Naomi Shihab Nye, Samuel Hazo, D. H. Melhem, Lawrence Joseph, Khaled Mattawa, Mohja Khaf, Matthew Shenoda, Kazim Ali, Nuar Alsadir, Fady Joudah, and Lisa Suhair Majaj. Charara has written a lengthy introduction about the state of Arab American poetry in the country today and short biographies of the poets and provided an extensive list of further readings.
Susan Hahn University of Chicago Press, 1993 Library of Congress PS3558.A3238I5 1993 | Dewey Decimal 811.54
Charged with sensuality, ferocity, and despair, this sequence of poems follows the progress of a central character's passionate romance. Hahn's fevered book of human emotions becomes a powerful rumination on love, aging, and mutability in general.
"Stitching together tropes about writing and technique, as well as hunting and the loss of sexual innocence, [Hahn] marks and exploits the body with surgical precision in order to explore the peripheries of the personal lyric. She wants to take poetry to the most tangible and sensual extremes. It's often uncomfortable, and yet as often results in a poetry of generous, piercing honesty, as if (to rewrite Bradford) it's by the body we are 'plainly told.'"—David Baker, Poetry
"Incontinence has an enormous, almost epic sweep."—Chicago Sun-Times
Victoria Frenkel Harris traces the aesthetic journey of poet Robert Bly from his early structured works of mystical imagery and lyrical landscapes to his recent explorations of intimate relationships and male socialization.
Examining the various ways Bly’s prose poems articulate his opposition to the Vietnam War and his recent writings manipulate more formal patterns in detailing the intricacies of human relationships, Harris labels this evolution in form, subject, and imagery the incorporative consciousness, incorporative because it assimilates Jungian psychological categories, international poetic traditions, and a compelling breadth of topics.
Harris relies in part on contemporary feminist theory to throw revealing new light on Bly’s recent works. Though sympathetic to Bly, Harris finds that—in spite of his affirmation of the interaction of psychic, creative, and intellectual energies in both sexes—the poet’s later, erotic poems tend to objectify women in counterproductive ways. Bly’s idealization of woman as a Jungian universal, Harris contends, can blind him toward actual women.
Harris is at her best as she delimits with balance and precision the full complexity of the poet’s work.
Indian Nation documents the contributions of Native Americans to the notion of American nationhood and to concepts of American identity at a crucial, defining time in U.S. history. Departing from previous scholarship, Cheryl Walker turns the "usual" questions on their heads, asking not how whites experienced indigenous peoples, but how Native Americans envisioned the United States as a nation. This project unfolds a narrative of participatory resistance in which Indians themselves sought to transform the discourse of nationhood. Walker examines the rhetoric and writings of nineteenth-century Native Americans, including William Apess, Black Hawk, George Copway, John Rollin Ridge, and Sarah Winnemucca. Demonstrating with unique detail how these authors worked to transform venerable myths and icons of American identity, Indian Nation chronicles Native American participation in the forming of an American nationalism in both published texts and speeches that were delivered throughout the United States. Pottawattomie Chief Simon Pokagon’s "The Red Man’s Rebuke," an important document of Indian oratory, is published here in its entirety for the first time since 1893. By looking at this writing through the lens of the best theoretical work on nationality, postcoloniality, and the subaltern, Walker creates a new and encompassing picture of the relationship between Native Americans and whites. She shows that, contrary to previous studies, America in the nineteenth century was intercultural in significant ways.
Returning to Nova Scotia every summer contributes to the illusion of smooth continuance, each summer not the first thread in a new fabric but another button on a cardigan, perhaps looser than buttons below but still familiar and comfortable. Every summer the songs of white-throated sparrows bounce from scrub like novelty tunes from the fifties. Early in the morning ravens grind woodenly. . . . No matter how slowly I jog, on the headland butterflies spring from my feet in clumps, first azures and orange crescents, then wood nymphs, and finally over the lowlands near the Beaver River outlet cabbage whites spiraling, dizzy with mating.
Indian Summer is the newest collection of personal essays by Sam Pickering. In typical Pickering fashion, he seeks to capture the gift of living. He brings to the page again his family, students, and a wealth of country characters who live in places that exist only in his imagination and who wander through the stories he tells.
He describes how his life has been altered by his children leaving home for college, and he ponders the changes aging brings and the things that never change. The consummate teacher, he celebrates academic life and the pleasures of the classroom. Readers will roam familiar ground with Pickering as he explores the fields and small hills of eastern Connecticut and the bogs and woods on his farm in Nova Scotia.
Indian Summer celebrates hearing and seeing. Butterflies tumble across the pages, flowers bloom and wilt, and dragonflies glitter like stained glass in the sunlight. Pickering teaches us to value our words and to laugh at the world around us. His musings mirror his desire for his readers to appreciate life a little more after exploring this book.
The contributors to Individual and Community attempt to illuminate aspects of the individual-community relationship. Though different in focus and approach, the essays themselves express a "community" of concern, a concern which includes not just the situations of characters in fictional worlds, but one which touches the relationship of both novelists and reader to a world of words. The essays are intended to point to the continuity of an important theme in American fiction and to offer insight into the variety of philosophical and literary strategies utilized in significant works of significant authors in dealing with the question of the individual and the community.
While Richard Wright's account of the 1955 Bandung Conference has been key to shaping Afro-Asian historical narratives, Indonesian accounts of Wright and his conference attendance have been largely overlooked. Indonesian Notebook contains myriad documents by Indonesian writers, intellectuals, and reporters, as well as a newly recovered lecture by Wright, previously published only in Indonesian. Brian Russell Roberts and Keith Foulcher introduce and contextualize these documents with extensive background information and analysis, showcasing the heterogeneity of postcolonial modernity and underscoring the need to consider non-English language perspectives in transnational cultural exchanges. This collection of primary sources and scholarly histories is a crucial companion volume to Wright'sThe Color Curtain.
Through a dizzying array of references to subjects ranging from engineering to poetry, on-the-job experiences in academia and industry, conflicts between working-class and intellectual labor, the privatization of universities, and the contradictions of the modern environment, Joe Amato’s Industrial Poetics mounts a boisterous call for poetry communities to be less invested in artistic self-absorption and more concerned about social responsibility.s Amato focuses on the challenges faced by American poets in creating a poetry that speaks to a public engineered into complacency by those industrial technologies, practices, and patterns of thought that we cannot seem to do without, he brings readers face to face with the conflicting realities of U.S. intellectual, academic, and poetic culture.Formally adventurous and rhetorically lively, Industrial Poetics is best compared with the intellectually exploratory, speculative, risky, polemical work of other contemporary poet-critics including Kathleen Fraser, Joan Retallack, Bruce Andrews, Susan Howe, and Allen Grossman. Amato uses an exhilarating range of structural and rhetorical strategies: conventionally developed argument, abruptly juxtaposed aphorisms, personal narrative, manifesto-like polemic, and documentary reportage. With a critic’s sharply analytical mind, a poet’s verve, and a working-class intellectual’s sense of social justice, Amato addresses the many nonliterary institutions and environments in which poetry is inextricably embedded. By connecting poetry to industry in a lively demonstration against the platitudes and habitudes of the twentieth century, Amato argues for a reenergized and socially forceful poetics---an industrial poetics, rough edges and all. Jed Rasula writes, “I can’t say I pay much attention to talk radio, but this is what I imagine it might be like if the deejay were really smart, enviably well read, yet somehow retained the snarling moxie of the am format.”
Industry and the Creative Mind takes a radically new look at the figure of the eccentric, alienated writer in American literature and entertainment from 1790 to 1860. Traditional scholarship takes for granted that the eccentric writer, modeled by such Romantic beings as Lord Byron and brought to life for American audiences by the gloomy person of Edgar Allan Poe, was a figure of rebellion against the excesses of modern commercial culture and industrial life. By contrast, Industry and the Creative Mind argues that in the United States myths of writerly moodiness, alienation, and irresponsibility predated the development of a commercial arts and entertainment industry and instead of forming a site of rebellion from this industry formed a bedrock for its development. Looking at the careers of a number of early American writers---Joseph Dennie, Nathaniel Parker Willis, Edgar Allan Poe, Fanny Fern, as well as a host of now forgotten souls who peopled the twilight worlds of hack fiction and industrial literature---this book traces the way in which early nineteenth-century American arts and entertainment systems incorporated writerly eccentricity in their "logical" economic workings, placing the mad, rebellious writer at the center of the industry's productivity and success.
Peter H. Wood Harvard University Press, 2010 Library of Congress ND237.H7A73 2010 | Dewey Decimal 759.13
Wood delves into the strange history and rich context of a long-neglected work of the great American artist Winslow Homer. Though Homer completed the picture in 1866, it was lost from public view for a century, and its true title, Near Andersonville, was not discovered until 1987. In focusing on this painting, Wood also revisits the history of the notorious wartime prison that became an enduring cultural icon, takes a closer look at the artist’s war experiences, and discusses other key images of African Americans that Homer generated during the war years.
Poetry has long been regarded as the least accessible of literary genres. But how much does the obscurity that confounds readers of a poem differ from, say, the slang that seduces listeners of hip-hop? Infidel Poetics examines not only the shared incomprensibilities of poetry and slang, but poetry's genetic relation to the spectacle of underground culture.
Charting connections between vernacular poetry, lyric obscurity, and types of social relations—networks of darkened streets in preindustrial cities, the historical underworld of taverns and clubs, the subcultures of the avant-garde—Daniel Tiffany shows that obscurity in poetry has functioned for hundreds of years as a medium of alternative societies. For example, he discovers in the submerged tradition of canting poetry and its eccentric genres—thieves’ carols, drinking songs, beggars’ chants—a genealogy of modern nightlife, but also a visible underworld of social and verbal substance, a demimonde for sale.
Ranging from Anglo-Saxon riddles to Emily Dickinson, from the icy logos of Parmenides to the monadology of Leibniz, from Mother Goose to Mallarmé, Infidel Poetics offers an exhilarating account of the subversive power of obscurity in word, substance, and deed.
Given the explosive creativity shown by Chicana writers over the past two decades, this first major anthology devoted to their work is a major contribution to American letters. It highlights the key issues, motifs, and concerns of Mexican American women from 1848 to the present, and particularly reflects the modern Chicana's struggle for identity. Among the recurring themes in the collection is a re-visioning of foremothers such as the historical Malinche, the mythical Llorona, and pioneering women who settled the American Southwest from the sixteenth to twentieth centuries. Also included are historical documents on the lives, culture, and writings of Mexican American women in the nineteenth century, as well as oral histories recorded by the Federal Writers Project in the 1930s.
Through poetry, fiction, drama, essay, and other forms, this landmark volume showcases the talents of more than fifty authors, including Gloria E. Anzaldúa, Ana Castillo, Lorna Dee Cervantes, Denise Chávez, Sandra Cisneros, Pat Mora, Cherríe Moraga, and María Helena Viramontes.
The Infinity Room
Gary Fincke Michigan State University Press, 2019 Library of Congress PS3556.I457A6 2019 | Dewey Decimal 811.54
In The Infinity Room the reader will find polished, precise poems that are built around the author’s experiences of touring Nevada’s atomic bomb test sites, the Chernobyl disaster site, and Oak Ridge, as well as living for decades near Three Mile Island. These iconic landmarks of the threat of nuclear technology become more than talking points as they provide grounding for narratives of faith and skepticism from multiple viewpoints that employ science, religion, history, myth, politics, and popular culture, including a piece about the author’s experience as a student at Kent State at the time of the National Guard shooting. The poems here are tightly controlled but electric, dark yet vibrant with love and longing, and packed with memorable characters and places that are presented through a singular, lyrical voice that connects us to what it means to be human.
As American journalism shape-shifts into multimedia pandemonium and seems to diminish rapidly in influence and integrity, the controversial career of H. L. Mencken, the most powerful individual journalist of the twentieth century, is a critical text for anyone concerned with the balance of power between the free press, the government, and the corporate plutocracy. Mencken, the belligerent newspaperman from Baltimore, was not only the most outspoken pundit of his day but also, by far, the most widely read, and according to many critics the most gifted American writer ever nurtured in a newsroom—a vanished world of typewriter banks and copy desks that electronic advances have precipitously erased.
Nearly 60 years after his death, Mencken’s memory and monumental verbal legacy rest largely in the hands of literary scholars and historians, to whom he will always be a curious figure, unchecked and alien and not a little distasteful. No faculty would have voted him tenure. Hal Crowther, who followed in many of Mencken’s footsteps as a reporter, magazine editor, literary critic, and political columnist, focuses on Mencken the creator, the observer who turned his impressions and prejudices into an inimitable group portrait of America, painted in prose that charms and glowers and endures. Crowther, himself a working polemicist who was awarded the Baltimore Sun’s Mencken prize for truculent commentary, examines the origin of Mencken’s thunderbolts—where and how they were manufactured, rather than where and on whom they landed.
Mencken was such an outrageous original that contemporary writers have made him a political shuttlecock, defaming or defending him according to modern conventions he never encountered. Crowther argues that loving or hating him, admiring or despising him are scarcely relevant. Mencken can inspire and he can appall. The point is that he mattered, at one time enormously, and had a lasting effect on the national conversation. No writer can afford to ignore his craftsmanship or success, or fail to be fascinated by his strange mind and the world that produced it. This book is a tribute—though by no means a loving one—to a giant from one of his bastard sons.
In Inhuman Citizenship, Juliana Chang claims that literary representations of Asian American domesticity may be understood as symptoms of America’s relationship to its national fantasies and to the “jouissance”—a Lacanian term signifying a violent yet euphoric shattering of the self—that both overhangs and underlies those fantasies. In the national imaginary, according to Chang, racial subjects are often perceived as the source of jouissance, which they supposedly embody through their excesses of violence, sexuality, anger, and ecstasy—excesses that threaten to overwhelm the social order.
To examine her argument that racism ascribes too much, rather than a lack of, humanity, Chang analyzes domestic accounts by Asian American writers, including Fae Myenne Ng’s Bone, Brian Ascalon Roley’s American Son, Chang-rae Lee’s Native Speaker, and Suki Kim’s The Interpreter. Employing careful reading and Lacanian psychoanalysis, Chang finds sites of excess and shock: they are not just narratives of trauma; they produce trauma as well. They render Asian Americans as not only the objects but also the vehicles and agents of inhuman suffering. And, claims Chang, these novels disturb yet strangely exhilarate the reader through characters who are objects of racism and yet inhumanly enjoy their suffering and the suffering of others.
Through a detailed investigation of “family business” in works of Asian American life, Chang shows that by identifying with the nation’s psychic disturbance, Asian American characters ethically assume responsibility for a national unconscious that is all too often disclaimed.
From authors of bodice rippers and gallant figures to hometown poetry, hearty men, and tales of American originals, the history of literature in Michigan is deep and rich. The Wolverine State has been the birthplace, home, and inspiration to a tremendous number of men and women of letters, both the well-known and the obscure. Ink Trails II tells the stories of these fascinating and diverse writers whose talent is inextricably linked to Michigan.
Exploring the hidden treasures of otherwise forgotten authors while also acknowledging the Michigan-set stories of giants like Hemingway, Dave and Jack Dempsey delve into the state’s literary heritage, as robust, diverse, and inexhaustible as the natural beauty of the place that nurtured it. This second volume of “ink trails” continues to tell the story of the remarkable writers, powerful words, and sublime nature of Michigan in the same well-researched and entertaining prose as the first.
Long revered as the birthplace of many of the nation’s best-known authors, Michigan has also served as inspiration to countless others. In this entertaining and well-researched book—the first of its kind—the secrets, legends, and myths surrounding some of Michigan’s literary luminaries are explored. Which Michigan poet inspired a state law requiring teachers to assign at least one of his compositions to all students? Which young author emerged from the University of Michigan with a bestselling novel derided by some critics as “vulgar”? And from what Michigan city did Arthur Miller, Robert Frost, and Jane Kenyon draw vital inspiration? The answers to these questions and more are revealed in this rich literary history that highlights the diversity of those whose impact on letters has been indelible and distinctly Michiganian.
Pamela Alexander University of Iowa Press, 1997 Library of Congress PS3551.L3574I54 1997 | Dewey Decimal 811.54
Pamela Alexander's poetry is characterized by inventive language, scrupulous accuracy of imagery, and a winning fusion of the comic and the deeply serious. Her subjects vary as widely as her settings, which range from the New Hampshire woods to the Arizona desert. A family life eccentric to the point of chaos, close observations of wildlife, and coastal sailing are among the poet's topics.
Despite this variety, Inland has an emerging organization that suggests a kind of plot. The family is left behind in the way that families of origin always are, revealed fully only in perspective: “foghorns / in the harbor, two different pitches / at different intervals / repeating so often I didn't hear them / and their accidental harmonies / until I'd left town.” Shifting toward the subject of new relationships, in her diatribe against a past (and passing) lover Alexander gives a new twist to the fact that this subject has been fair game for poets for centuries: “...you could say hello, you canoe-footed fur-faced / musk ox, pockets full of cheese and acorns / and live fish and four-headed winds and sky...”
James Merrill, praising Alexander's first book, called it “a wonderful achievement. Her language is now simple, now playful, now extremely poignant.” This is an apt description of Inland as well, a book that shows Alexander in witty yet serious engagement with the world. The longest poem here, “Swallowing the Anchor” (the title is the sailors' term for giving up the sea), is also the most directly personal. It closes the section of the book in which the poet comes to terms with losses, including the death of the loved one. She does this with grace—and her wit is not jokes, her poignancy is not sentimentality.
The Inordinate Eye traces the relations of Latin American painting, sculpture, architecture, and literature—the stories they tell each other and the ways in which their creators saw the world and their place in it. Moving from pre-Columbian codices and sculpture through New World Baroque art and architecture to Neobaroque theory and contemporary Latin American fiction, Lois Parkinson Zamora argues for an integrated understanding of visual and verbal forms.
The New World Baroque combines indigenous, African, and European forms of expression, and, in the early decades of the twentieth century, Latin American writers began to recuperate its visual structures to construct an alternative account of modernity, using its hybrid forms for the purpose of creating a discourse of “counterconquest”—a postcolonial self-definition aimed at disrupting entrenched power structures, perceptual categories, and literary forms.
Zamora engages this process, discussing a wide range of visual forms—Baroque façades and altarpieces, portraits of saints and martyrs (including the self-portraits of Frida Kahlo), murals from indigenous artisans to Diego Rivera—to elucidate works of fiction by Borges, Carpentier, Lezama Lima, Sarduy, Garro, García Márquez, and Galeano, and also to establish a critical perspective external to their work. Because visual media are “other” to the verbal economy of modern fiction, they serve these writers (and their readers) as oblique means by which to position their fiction culturally, politically, and aesthetically.
The first study of its kind in scope and ambition, The Inordinate Eye departs radically from most studies of literature by demonstrating how transcultural conceptions of the visual image have conditioned present ways of seeing and reading in Latin America.
Bob Hicok University of Pittsburgh Press, 2004 Library of Congress PS3558.I28I57 2004 | Dewey Decimal 811.54
“The most potent ingredient in virtually every one of Bob Hicok’s compact, well-turned poems is a laughter as old as humanity itself, a sweet waggery that suggests there’s almost no problem that can’t be solved by this poet’s gentle humor.”
—New York Times Book Review
Instead of Dying
Lauren Haldeman University Press of Colorado, 2017 Library of Congress PS3608.A54565A6 2017 | Dewey Decimal 811.6
Invoking spiders and senators, physicists and aliens, Lauren Haldeman’s second book, Instead of Dying, decodes the world of death with a powerful mix of humor, epiphany, and agonizing grief. In the spirit of Calvino’s Invisible Cities, these poems compulsively imagine alternate realities for a lost sibling (“Instead of dying, they inject you with sunlight & you live” or “Instead of dying, you join a dog-sledding team in Quebec”), relentlessly recording the unlived possibilities that blossom from the purgative magical thinking of mourning. Whether she is channeling Google Maps Street View to visit a scene of murder (“Because / a picture of this place is / also a picture of you”) or investigating the origins of consciousness (“Yes, alien / life-forms exist / they are your thoughts”), Haldeman wrenches verse into new sublime forms, attempting to both translate the human experience as well as encrypt it, inviting readers into realms where we hover, plunge, rise again, and ascend.
Socially engaged art, though its transformative practice, shapes the institutions that surround it. And in a city famous for both its physical and political structures, few creative communities are as deeply intertwined with a city’s framework than those in Chicago.
This volume focuses on how artists and others have worked with, within, and sometimes in opposition to large Chicago institutions, such as public schools, universities, libraries, archives, museums, and other civic bodies. Drawing from a broad range of interdisciplinary sources, it explores the far-reaching effect of socially motivated art on urban life. It grounds recent history within a longer arc of civic self-fashioning, from the Columbian Exposition of 1893 to Jane Addams's Hull House to John Dewey's legacy in arts education. The collection also examines the relationship between the city’s image and the types of artistic work that flourish within its boundaries and resonate far beyond them.
Institutions and Imaginaries is part of the new Chicago Social Practice History series, edited by Mary Jane Jacob and Kate Zeller in the Department of Exhibitions and Exhibition Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC).
Instructions, Abject & Fuming
Julianna Baggott Southern Illinois University Press, 2016 Library of Congress PS3552.A339A6 2017 | Dewey Decimal 811.54
In this inventive collection, Julianna Baggott invites readers to reconsider basic assumptions about language, faith, motherhood, and love. With a sharply honed voice featuring parentheticals that often comment on and sometimes undercut what has come before, these poems whirl through contemporary America, engaging with topics as diverse and timely as Russian mail-order brides, Internet bullying, and school shootings.
Alongside her cultural commentary, the speaker frankly confronts love and sex, as well as the beauty and brutality of having children. Still other poems reflect questions and considerations of faith: the speaker ponders St. Thomas in a pet store and imagines Jesus explaining to God how it feels to have a body.
Baggott’s use of obsolete Old English words subverts common language and creates new ways of interrogating the world around us. There is heartache on these pages, but Baggott also offers humor, such as a complaint about a lover’s eating habits or an extended discourse on a baby’s rattle. Baggott’s latest proves to be a rollicking book sui generis.
This collection is divided into three sections. The first opens with the speaker’s reflections on her childhood loss of her father and subsequent move to a new house and a new life, a life in which she is always alert to the absences and danger but also a life in which she begins to see language as a kind of salvation. This section also develops the speaker’s first knowledge of sex, primarily in the poems, “The Goose Girl” and “A Woman Was Raped Here.” The second section follows the speaker into adolescence and young adulthood, and these poems further explore the sexual violence in the world in which the speaker lives, and how this violence affects her own feelings toward sex and romantic love. In the third section, the book finds love, work, and family, and the poems in this section about motherhood echo back to the first section as the speaker’s own parenting is influenced by how difficult it is to love when you know people die.
Instruments of the True Measure charts the coordinates and intersections of land, history, and culture. Lyrical passages map the parallel lives of ancestral figures and connect dispossessions of the past to lived experiences of the present. Shawnee history informs the collection, and Da’s fascination with uncovering and recovering brings the reader deeper into the narrative of Shawnee homeland. Images of forced removal and frontier violence reveal the wrenching loss and reconfiguration of the Shawnee as a people. The body and history become lands that are measured and plotted with precise instruments.
Surveying and geography underpin the collection, but even as Da’ investigates these signifiers of measurement, she pushes the reader to interrogate their function within the stark atrocities of American history. Da’ laments this harsh dichotomy, observing that America’s mathematical point of beginning is located in the heart of her tribe’s homeland: “I do not have the Shawnee words to describe this place; the notation that is available to me is 40°38´32.61´´ N 80°31´9.76´´ W.”
The Integrated Life was first published in 1948. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
This volume of essays and poems is representative of the work and life of their author, a professor of English at Hamline University and for any years chairman of the department.
Of the essays, some are personal, others works of literary appreciation, and still others discuss the profession of teaching, in particular the teaching of English; all reveal the man who wrote them.
At Hamlin Dr. Beyer and reading have been almost synonymous. He proposed the general reading course in 1921 and directed it for twelve years. Students alert to this form of inspiration found existing delight not only in the outside reading but in the discussions with faculty members which followed. Colleagues and off-campus friends also came under provocative influence of Dr. Beyer, and his guidance has been frequently and freely acknowledged.
When Dr. Beyer was honored in 1947 for his long fruitful association with Hamline University, a publication fund was established. It was unanimously agreed that a collection of Dr. Beyer's own essays, poems, and sketches should be the first venture. The Integrated Life is that volume. No attempt has been made to bring the material up to date. The collection appears as it was written—full of the flavor and wisdom of a truly honorable teacher and friend.
In Interior States Christopher Castiglia focuses on U.S. citizens’ democratic impulse: their ability to work with others to imagine genuinely democratic publics while taking divergent views into account. Castiglia contends that citizens of the early United States were encouraged to locate this social impulse not in associations with others but in the turbulent and conflicted interiors of their own bodies. He describes how the human interior—with its battles between appetite and restraint, desire and deferral—became a displacement of the divided sociality of nineteenth-century America’s public sphere and contributed to the vanishing of that sphere in the twentieth century and the twenty-first. Drawing insightful connections between political structures, social relations, and cultural forms, he explains that as the interior came to reflect the ideological conflicts of the social world, citizens were encouraged to (mis)understand vigilant self-scrutiny and self-management as effective democratic action.
In the late eighteenth century and early nineteenth, as discourses of interiority gained prominence, so did powerful counter-narratives. Castiglia reveals the flamboyant pages of antebellum popular fiction to be an archive of unruly democratic aspirations. Through close readings of works by Maria Monk and George Lippard, Walt Whitman and Timothy Shay Arthur, Hannah Webster Foster and Hannah Crafts, and Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville, Castiglia highlights a refusal to be reformed or self-contained. In antebellum authors’ representations of nervousness, desire, appetite, fantasy, and imagination, he finds democratic strivings that refused to disappear. Taking inspiration from those writers and turning to the present, Castiglia advocates a humanism-without-humans that, denied the adjudicative power of interiority, promises to release democracy from its inner life and to return it to the public sphere where U.S. citizens may yet create unprecedented possibilities for social action.