We Who Love to Be Astonished: Experimental Women's Writing and Performance Poetics

Overview

This first critical volume devoted to the full range of women's postmodern works includes some of the most respected writers and critics in the contemporary avant-garde.

We Who Love to Be Astonished collects a powerful group of previously unpublished essays to fill a gap in the critical evaluation of women's contributions to postmodern experimental writing. Contributors include Alan Golding, Aldon Nielsen, and Rachel Blau DuPlessis; discussions include analyses of the work of ...

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Overview

This first critical volume devoted to the full range of women's postmodern works includes some of the most respected writers and critics in the contemporary avant-garde.

We Who Love to Be Astonished collects a powerful group of previously unpublished essays to fill a gap in the critical evaluation of women's contributions to postmodern experimental writing. Contributors include Alan Golding, Aldon Nielsen, and Rachel Blau DuPlessis; discussions include analyses of the work of Kathleen Fraser, Harryette Mullen, and Kathy Acker, among others. The editors take as their title a line from the work of Lyn Hejinian, one of the most respected of innovative women poets writing today.

The volume is organized into four sections: the first two seek to identify, from two different angles, the ways women of different sociocultural backgrounds are exploring their relationships to their cultures' inherited traditions; the third section investigates the issue of visuality and the problems and challenges it creates; and the fourth section expands on the role of the body as material and performance.

The collection will breach a once irreconcilable divide between those who theorize about women's writing and those who focus on formalist practice. By embracing "astonishment" as the site of formalist-feminist investigation, the editors seek to show how form configures feminist thought, and, likewise, how feminist thought informs words and letters on a page. Students and scholars of avant-garde poetry, women's writing, and late-20th-century American literature will welcome this lively discussion.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Following the lead of such books as Marjorie Perloff's Radical Artifice: Writing Poetry in the Age of Media, the editors a critic and professor at CCNY and a poet who teaches at Bucknell, respectively gather 19 pieces that examine ways in which experimental women writers challenge traditional free-verse writing through the creation of hybrid forms. For example, writing on the spoken-word poetry of performance artist Tracie Morris, Kathleen Crown notes how Morris repeats the lyrics of "Dancing Cheek to Cheek" while beating time with increasing violence on her chest and throat, as her audience becomes more uncomfortable and the sunny Doris Day lyrics shade into a tableau of spousal abuse. The danger for practitioners of such "oppositional poetics," the authors note, is that they "can harden into positions opposing each other, rather than establishing areas of shared concerns." Hinton and Hogue hope to lessen such parochialism with this volume, which will encourage various experimental writers to acknowledge and learn from one another. The kind of writing under discussion here is not exactly big box office, but by furthering the conversation between these radical women artists Hinton reminds readers that it can be refreshing to break up ordinary literary discourse and seek a fruitful bewilderment among its fragments. Recommended for academic libraries. David Kirby, Florida State Univ., Tallahassee Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
From the Publisher

"This is an important collection especially in its emphasis on multicutural experimental writing, and on differences betweemn modes of experimental writing."
—Susan Schultz, author of Aleatory Allegories and The Tribe of John
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780817310950
  • Publisher: University of Alabama Press
  • Publication date: 12/28/2001
  • Series: Modern & Contemporary Poetics Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 376
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Laura Hinton is Assistant Professor of English at the City College of New York and author of The Perverse Route of Sympathy: Sadomasochistic Sentiments from "Clarissa" to "Rescue 911." Cynthia Hogue is Associate Professor of English and Director of the Stadler Center for Poetry at Bucknell University and author of Scheming Women: Poetry, Privilege, and the Politics of Subjectivity.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction: Oppositions and Astonishing Contiguities 1
Pt. I Formal Thresholds
"A Poetics of Emerging Evidence": Experiment in Kathleen Fraser's Poetry 15
Asterisk: Separation at the Threshold of Meaning in the Poetry of Rae Armantrout 28
Alice Notley's Experimental Epic: "An Ecstasy of Finding Another Way of Being" 41
Intimacy and Experiment in Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge's Empathy 54
Pt. II In the Margins of From
Towards a New Politics of Representation? Absence and Desire in Denise Chavez's The Last of the Menu Girls 71
Beyond the Frame of Whiteness: Harryette Mullen's Revisionary Border Work 81
Untranslatable Communities, Productive Translation, and Public Transport: Rosmarie Waldrop's A Key into the Language of America and Joy Harjo's The Woman Who Fell from the Sky 90
"Nothing, for a Woman, is Worth Trying": A Key into the Rules of Rosmarie Waldrop's Experimentalism 103
Rules and Restraints in Women's Experimental Writing 116
Pt. III The Visual Referent/Visual Page
Im.age ... Dis.solve: The Linguistic Image in the Critical Lyric of Norma Cole and Ann Lauterbach 127
Postmodern Romance and the Descriptive Fetish of Vision in Fanny Howe's The Lives of a Spirit and Lyn Hejinian's My Life 140
"Drawings with Words": Susan Howe's Visual Poetics 152
"Bodies Written Off": Economies of Race and Gender in the Visual/Verbal Collaborative Clash of Erica Hunt's and Alison Saar's Arcade 165
Pt. IV Performative Bodies
"In Another Tongue": Body, Image, Text in Theresa Hak Kyung Cha's Dictee 181
Painful Bodies: Kathy Acker's Last Texts 193
"Eyes in All Heads": Anne Waldman's Performance of Bigendered Imagination in Iovis 1 203
"Sonic Revolutionaries": Voice and Experiment in the Spoken Word Poetry of Tracie Morris 213
Capillary Currents: Jayne Cortez 227
Afterword: "Draft 48: Being Astonished" 237
Notes 255
Contributors 283
Index 287
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