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From the depths of sorrow following the sudden death of her closest female mentor, Brenda Hillman asks anguished questions in this book of poems about separation, spiritual transcendence, and the difference between life and death. Both personal and philosophical, her work can be read as a spirit-guide for those mourning the loss of a loved one and as a series of fundamental ponderings on the inevitability of death and separation. At first refusing to let go, desperate to feel the presence of her friend, the poet seeks solace in a belief in the spirit world. But life, not death, becomes the issue when she begins to see physical existence as "an interruption" that preoccupies us with shapes and borders. "Shape makes life too small," she realizes. Comfort at last comes in the idea of "reverse seeing": that even if she cannot see forward into the spirit world, her friend can see "backward into this world" and be with her.
Death Tractates is the companion volume to a philosophical poetic work entitles Bright Existence, which Hillman was in the midst of writing when her friend died. Published by Wesleyan University Press in 1993, it shares many of the same Gnostic themes and sources.
A haunting and peculiar travelogue, Deeds of the Utmost Kindness employs forms as diverse as haiku and prose poetry in settings that range from Japan to the rural Ozarks to contemporary Moscow. The compelling strangeness of the poems' precise details exposes varied rhythms of thought and illustrated how different logics work in the metaphoric structures of changing places . Yet behind the uneasy sense of dislocation felt by the constant traveler lies the personal, essentially moral, voice of the poet as observer.
First published in 1927, Deluge is one of the most famous of the English catastrophe novels. Beautifully written and action packed--RKO Radio Pictures even filmed this story--the novel depicts a flood so severe that it destroys modern civilization, leaving the few survivors to adapt to the rigors of the natural world. Like other English writers responding to the trauma of World War I, Sydney Fowler Wright expresses a loathing of the worst aspects of industrialization. The flood, in his view, becomes an opportunity for the remaking of society. The protagonists soon realize that civilization and technology have divorced them from the knowledge and skills necessary for survival. Released from their over-reliance on social regulation, they struggle to overcome their own brutality to develop a new sense of community. For over 75 years readers have praised this book for its style and wisdom, and debated the meaning of its controversial ending. This Wesleyan edition is graced with an excellent introduction and annotations by leading science fiction scholar Brian Stableford.
The Art History and Popular Celebrity of Frida Kahlo
Beginning in the late 1970's Frida Kahlo achieved cult heroine status less for her richly surrealist self-portraits than by the popularization of the events of her tumultuous life. Her images were splashed across billboards magazine ads, and postcards; fashion designers copied the so-called "Frida" look in hairstyles and dress; and "Fridamania" even extended to T-shirts, jewelry, and nail polish. Margaret A. Lindauer argues that this mass market assimilation of Kahlo's identity has consistently detracted from appreciation of her work, leading instead to narrow interpretations based on "an entrenched narrative of suffering." While she agrees that Kahlo's political and feminist activism, her stormy marriage to fellow artist Diego Reviera, and the tragic reality of a progressively debilitated body did represent a biography colored by emotional and physical upheaval, she questions an "author-equals-the-work" critical tradition that assumes a :one-to-one association of life events to the meaning of a painting." In kahlo's case, Lindauer says, such assumptions created a devouring mythology, an iconization that separates us from rather than leads us to the real significance of the oeuvre. Accompanied by 26 illustrations and deep analysis of Kahlo's central themes, this provocative, semiotic study recontextualizes an important figure in art history at the same time it addresses key questions about the language of interpretation, the nature of veneration, and the truths within self-representation.
Ebook Edition Note: All images have been redacted.
The Rock'n'Roll Scene in Austin, Texas
Music of the bars and clubs of Austin, Texas has long been recognized as defining one of a dozen or more musical "scenes" across the country. In Dissonant Identities, Barry Shank, himself a musician who played and lived in the Texas capital, studies the history of its popular music, its cultural and economic context, and also the broader ramifications of that music as a signifying practice capable of transforming identities.
While his focus is primarily on progressive country and rock, Shank also writes about traditional country, blues, rock, disco, ethnic, and folk musics. Using empirical detail and an expansive theoretical framework, he shows how Austin became the site for "a productive contestation between two forces: the fierce desire to remake oneself through musical practice, and the equally powerful struggle to affirm the value of that practice in the complexly structured late-capitalist marketplace."
This elegant and moving collection documents Hilda Raz's experience with breast cancer. The journey, from diagnosis to chemotherapy to mastectomy, from denial to humor to grief and rage, is ultimately one of courage and creativity. The poems themselves are accessible and finely wrought. They are equally testaments to Raz's insistence on making an order out of chaos, of finding ways to create and understand and eventually accept new definitions of good and evil, health, blame, personal boundaries -- in short, a new sense of self. These poems remain intimately bound to the world and of the senses, becoming documents of transformation.
Isadora Duncan in America
This cultural study of modern dance icon Isadora Duncan is the first to place her within the thought, politics and art of her time. Duncan's dancing earned her international fame and influenced generations of American girls and women, yet the romantic myth that surrounds her has left some questions unanswered: What did her audiences see on stage, and how did they respond? What dreams and fears of theirs did she play out? Why, in short, was Duncan's dancing so compelling? First published in 1995 and now back in print, Done into Dance reveals Duncan enmeshed in social and cultural currents of her time -- the moralism of the Progressive Era, the artistic radicalism of prewar Greenwich Village, the xenophobia of the 1920s, her association with feminism and her racial notion of "Americanness."
New and Collected Poems, 1965-2003
Since the 1965 publication of her first book, Dream Barker, selected for the Yale Younger Poets Award, Jean Valentine has published eight collections of poetry to critical acclaim. Spare and intensely-felt, Valentine's poems present experience as only imperfectly graspable. This volume gathers together all of Valentine's published poems and includes a new collection, "Door in the Mountain."
Valentine's poetry is as recognizable as the slant truth of a dream. She is a brave, unshirking poet who speaks with fire on the great subjects--love, and death, and the soul. Her images--strange, canny visions of the unknown self--clang with the authenticity of real experience. This is an urgent art that wants to heal what it touches, a poetry that wants to tell, intimately, the whole life.
In Drafts 1-38, Toll, Rachel Blau DuPlessis has built a work which mimics memory and its losses, and which plays with the textures of memory, including its unexpectedness, its flashes and disappearances. Her recurrent motifs and materials include home, homelessness and exile; death and the memory of the dead; political grief and passion; silence, speech, the sayable and the ineffable. Drafts 1-38, Toll functions as a long poem comprised of 38 pieces, or drafts. These poems are conceived as autonomous "canto-like" sections that work on two procedural principles. One is the random repetition of lines or phrases across poems, a self-questioning, processual, and reconceptualizing strategy that honors the term "drafts." A second procedural principle is "the fold." This is the reconsideration of a "donor draft" and the deployment of some aspect in the donor draft in a related draft. The periodicity of this reconsideration is the number 19; hence drafts 1-19 make up the original layer, while drafts 20-38 constitute the first fold on top of this material.