Not the most photogenic person in the world am I, but you get the idea. Things Come On: (an amneoir) is now available from Wesleyan University Press. Order from the University Press of New England web site using the discount code W301, and you get 30% off - which brings the price more in line with a regular poetry book. While you are there, check out the terrific recent books by Rae Armantrout, Kamau Brathwaite, Ed Roberson, Elizabeth Willis, and Evie Shockley - all of which are available at the same discount, if I'm not mistaken.
Between being sick and having to read 150+ graduate applications, I have neglected the bloggo. I apologize to my thousands of fans. Ha ha.
Really, what I was going to say about mixed-genre work and elegy isn't very profound, and inadvertently got way more build-up than it's worth, simply b/c I haven't been blogging.
It's just this: that there seems to be a lot of it. Or rather, that a lot of work that mixes, defies, or invents genres seems to be in an elegiac or eulogistic vein. The book above being an example, but also:
- Kristin Prevallet, I, Afterlife: An Essay in Mourning Time
- Eleni Sikelianos, The Book of Jon
- Anne Carson, Vox
- Susan Howe, The Midnight
- Michael Lesy, Wisconsin Death Trip
- Mark Nowak, Coal Mountain Elementary
- Susan M. Schultz, Dementia Blog (arguably)
- Parts of Theresa Hak Kyung Cha's Dictee
- Mahmoud Darwish, Memory for Forgetfulness
- Michael Ondaatje, Running in the Family
And I'm sure there are lots of other ones you could name that are not occurring to me.
Why is this? Part of it may be that contemporary writing generally is in an elegiac mode, in the broadest sense: it conveys a sense of lostness, belatedness, etc. When I read a longer Ashbery poem, I always feel like I'm reading an elegy.
But the best specific explanation I've encountered is a sentence from Prevallet's book (which I quote in the notes to mine): "If the body of the text has suffering at its root, then language will take a fragmented, torn-apart form, as if it too is suffering" (p. 50). There does seem to be something about the physicality of the text that connects with the physicality of loss - the feeling of being held together with chewing gum and baling wire. The mixed-genre text presents itself as something not-whole. This feature is certainly in keeping with Prevallet's principled refusal to impose "closure" on mourning.
Then there are scrapbooks (in the English-speaking world, esp.)- an ad hoc memorialization via physical artefacts collected in a book. The keeping of relics.
Half-baked hypotheses on somebody's blog. What do you think?
Author of Things Come On: (an amneoir) (Wesleyan University Press’ poetry series, 2011), earth day suite (Beard of Bees Press, Dec. 2010), Of Some Sky (Bedouin, forthcoming), and Poetry and the Public (Wesleyan 2002).