Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Some quick responses

* There's been some talk about men writing "gurlesque" poetry. The way I interpret "gurlesque" is as a sensibility, not a group. So of course there can be men writing with a gurlesque sensibility. Arielle didn't set out to define "gurlesque" poets; she showed the prevalence of a sensibility.

* About race: As I noted earlier when talking about Aase Berg and Kim Hyesoon, it's important to take note of cultural differences. Clearly Lara was very aware of the racial angle since the anthology includes a number of non-white folks (Kara Walker for example). The grotesque has an interesting and troubling past when it comes to relating to differences - long-nosed, mean-looking Jewish cartoon in Germany or caricatures of African-Americans, not to mention lynchings and Abu Ghraib.

* On her blog I noticed that Lorraine objected to Lara not mentioning Mina Loy and The Baroness. I haven't read the intro but I think Lara does write extensively about them. One of the most important jobs a term like "gurlesque" can do is in fact to engage is in reconsidering literary history. For example, the language poets rewrote Modernism to make Stein - rather than Pound/Eliot, or perhaps in addition to Pound/Eliot - the central Modernist, and radicalizing the reading of Williams. In the same way I think "gurlesque" rewrites Modernism, calling more attention to Mina Loy and the Baroness and radicalizing the reading of Plath.


Blogger Cathy Park Hong said...

Wanda Coleman, although of an older generation, is an excellent example of a poet who interrogates the female grotesque in her American sonnets--morphing the black urban female into exaggerated perceptions of ghoul, wrathful muse, welfare mom, and Shakespeare's dark lady. Plus, her language just detonates the sonnet form.

Kara Walker is also an ideal example of an artist who interrogates the grotesque through her utterly disturbing, carnivalesque antebellum narratives, though her representations of grotesquery definitely puts a wedge through the audience (going with your "troubling past" comment, Johannes). She's a star in the art world, but then there are some black audiences, perhaps older(?), who object to her "abject" portrayals.

Lara, I so look forward to your essay on race and the grotesque. Will it be published online? And Danielle, definitely want to hear more about your forum.

Anyway, I look forward to reading Lara's essay on race and feminity.

8:41 AM  
Blogger Lara Glenum said...

Absolutely, Johannes. Everything you're saying here is right on. The rewriting/rereading of literary history (esp. Loy, the Baroness, etc.) will be clearer when the complete essay/antho is out. And I do think that so much of the Gurlesque project hinges on rewriting/rereading Plath as a practitioner of the female grotesque, which aligns her far more closely with the historical avant-garde than Confessional poetry.

Cathy, I'm still working on the essay on Gurlesque and race but will pass it along as soon as I'm done. I'll try to post some notes here soon. I don't know Wanda Coleman's work well at all, but I intend to read her ASAP. Thanks for pointing her out. And Kara Walker is absolutely my idol.

10:50 AM  
Blogger Lara Glenum said...

And yes! The Gurlesque is, above all, a sensibility. It's a many-faceted aesthetic, a set of descriptive terms. The poets in the anthology are salient examples of what Arielle and I think it means to be Gurlesque. They're examples, not platinum-card holders to an exclusive club. And their work isn't chained to/fully described by the term, either.

There are so many ways to read any given poet. The Gurlesque is just one possible framework.

11:23 AM  
Blogger K. Lorraine Graham said...

Not so much object to their absence as wonder why they hadn't come up in conversations I'd been a part of about the Gurlesque--but Lara did mention that they're in the introduction, which makes sense. And don't forget about Djuna Barnes!

12:47 PM  

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