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The world that Donald Revell ponders in these poems replete with contrarieties. The same verbal playfulness and prophetic lyricism that made Revell a 1992 Guggenheim Fellow in Poetry and a winner of National Poetry Series, Pushcart, and PEN Center USA West awards are in full force in Beautiful Shirt. Here he traverses the rocky terrain of innocence, memory, disillusion, and salvation in a voice at once haunted and elliptical: "This is the world as I have known it./ It has a soft outline and is easily victimized."
Juxtaposed within a trio of long, introspective poems are shorter lyrics that push the limits of poetic syntaxes and dictions. In all, Beautiful Shirt searches for the true nature of the self through language unfettered by narrative constraints and conventional conceptual identities.
Charles Stratton, P. T. Barnum, and the Dawn of American Celebrity
When P. T. Barnum met twenty-five-inch-tall Charles Stratton at a Bridgeport, Connecticut hotel in 1843, one of the most important partnerships in entertainment history was born. With Barnum's promotional skills and the miniature Stratton's comedic talents, they charmed a Who's Who of the 19th century, from Queen Victoria to Charles Dickens to Abraham Lincoln. Adored worldwide as "General Tom Thumb," Stratton played to sold-out shows for almost forty years. From his days as a precocious child star to his tragic early death, Becoming Tom Thumb tells the full story of this iconic figure for the first time. It details his triumphs on the New York stage, his epic celebrity wedding, and his around-the-world tour, drawing on newly available primary sources and interviews. From the mansions of Paris to the deserts of Australia, Stratton's unique brand of Yankee comedy not only earned him the accolades of millions of fans, it helped move little people out of the side show and into the lime light.
When two European scientists unexpectedly inherit an Indian rajah's fortune, each builds an experimental city of his dreams in the wilds of the American Northwest. France-Ville is a harmonious urban community devoted to health and hygiene, the specialty of its French founder, Dr. Francois Sarrasin. Stahlstadt, or City of Steel, is a fortress-like factory town devoted to the manufacture of high-tech weapons of war. Its German creator, the fanatically pro-Aryan Herr Schultze, is Verne's first truly evil scientist. In his quest for world domination and racial supremacy, Schultze decides to showcase his deadly wares by destroying France-Ville and all its inhabitants. Both prescient and cautionary, The Begum's Millions is a masterpiece of scientific and political speculation and constitutes one of the earliest technological utopia/dystopias in Western literature. This Wesleyan edition features notes, appendices, and a critical introduction as well as all the illustrations from the original French edition.
Popular Music and the Staging of Brazil
Between Nostalgia and Apocalypse is a close-to-the-ground account of musicians and dancers from Arcoverde, Pernambuco—a small city in the northeastern Brazilian backlands. The book’s focus on samba de coco families, marked as bearers of tradition, and the band Cordel do Fogo Encantado, marketed as pop iconoclasts, offers a revealing portrait of performers engaged in new forms of cultural preservation during a post-dictatorship period of democratization and neoliberal reform. Daniel B. Sharp explores how festivals, museums, television, and tourism steep musicians’ performances in national-cultural nostalgia, which both provides musicians and dancers with opportunities for cultural entrepreneurship and hinders their efforts to be recognized as part of the Brazilian here-and-now. The book charts how Afro-Brazilian samba de coco became an unlikely emblem in an interior where European and indigenous mixture predominates. It also chronicles how Cordel do Fogo Encantado—drawing upon the sounds of samba de coco, ecstatic Afro-Brazilian religious music, and heavy metal—sought to make folklore dangerous by embodying an apocalyptic register often associated with northeastern Brazil.
Yet, these are ultimately poems of survival. Jarman explores the redemptive power of the imagination and the ways in which we transform experience into stories we tell about our lives. His characters vividly express the will to cling to existence and understand it as they pursue the meaning of family, home, identity, and love. Invented memories resurrect a forgotten past, opening doors of possibility and adding a strange richness to everyday life. "Flowers of the flesh,/ Hung on the cliffs to watch and be watched./ Don't let me see reproach, don't let me see it,/ In your eyes. Let me be the only one/ Who knows and tells you."
Gerald Vizenor weaves an engrossing historical portrayal of Native American soldiers in World War I. Blue Ravens is set at the start of the twentieth century in the days leading up to the Great War in France, and continues in combat scenes at Château-Thierry, Montbréhain, and Bois de Fays. The novel contains many of Vizenor's recurrent cultural themes—the power and irony of trickster stories, the privilege of survivance over victimry, natural reason and resistance. After serving in the American Expeditionary Forces, two brothers from the Anishinaabe culture return to the White Earth Reservation where they grew up. They eventually leave for a second time to live in Paris where they lead successful and creative lives. With a spirited sense of "chance, totemic connections, and the tricky stories of our natural transience in the world," Vizenor creates an expression of presence commonly denied Native Americans. Blue Ravens is a story of courage in poverty and war, a human story of art and literature from a recognized master of the postwar American novel and one of the most original and outspoken Native voices writing today. Check for the online reader's companion at blueravens.site.wesleyan.edu.
The Book of Landings brings together the second and third parts of Mark McMorris’s visionary trilogy “Auditions for Utopia,”—initiated in Entrepôt—and marks two stages in the evolution of the poet’s conception of space. The first stage of the collection is the entrepôt, a space where disparate vectors of identity congregate, come into conflict, and finally merge into hybrid forms. The poetry follows a trajectory of diaspora, or exile, instigated by conquest, colonialism, wars, and political defeat in the search for Utopia. In The Book of Landings the promised dwelling has been removed from the realm of physical geography, and there is only transition—fragmentary episodes of arrival and departure, in transit from one entrepôt to another. These episodes of transit do not only compose a linear sequence only. Instead, they define a space or surface marked by repeated traversals over time—tracings and, importantly, re-tracings, by explorers, conquerors, migrants, merchants, slaves, refugees, and exiles—a city of palimpsests. An online reader’s companion will be available at markmcmorris.site.wesleyan.edu.
An Anthology of Sounds, Words, Thoughts
This innovative book and online CD, assembled by the editors of the renowned periodical Terra Nova, is the first anthology published on the subject of music and nature. Lush and evocative, yoking together the simplicities and complexities of the world of natural sound and the music inspired by it, this collection includes essays, illustrations, and plenty of sounds and music. The Book of Music and Nature celebrates our relationship with natural soundscapes while posing stimulating questions about that very relationship. The book ranges widely, with the interplay of the texts and sounds creating a conversation that readers from all walks of life will find provocative and accessible.
The anthology includes classic texts on music and nature by 20th century masters including John Cage, Hazrat Inrayat Khan, Pierre Schaeffer, Rainer Maria Rilke, and Toru Takemitsu. Innovative essays by Brian Eno, Pauline Oliveros, David Toop, Hildegard Westerkamp and Evan Eisenberg also appear. Interspersed throughout are short fictional excerpts by authors Rafi Zabor, Alejo Carpentier, and Junichiro Tanazaki.
The virtual CD at http://www.wesleyan.edu/wespress/musicandnaturecd/ includes fifteen tracks of music made out of, or reflective of, natural sounds, ranging from Babenzele Pygmy music to Australian butcherbirds, and from Pauline Oliveros to Brian Eno.
Sound Recording, Disembodiment, and the Transformation of Lyrical Nostalgia
Breathless explores early sound recording and the literature that both foreshadowed its invention and was contemporaneous with its early years, revealing the broad influence of this new technology at the very origins of Modernism. Through close readings of works by Edgar Allan Poe, Stephane Mallarme, Charles Cros, Paul Valery, Villiers de L'Isle-Adam, Jules Verne, and Antonin Artaud, Allen S. Weiss shows how sound recording's uncanny confluence of human and machine would transform our expectations of mourning and melancholia, transfiguring our intimate relation to death. Interdisciplinary, the book bridges poetry and literature, theology and metaphysics. As Breathless shows, the symbolic and practical roles of poetry and technology were transformed as new forms of nostalgia and eroticism arose.