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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.
A book of new poems by a major writer is an event. A book of new poems that marks a different, more powerful approach is cause for celebration. "What I looked for here," James Dickey tells us about The Eagle's Mile, "was a flicker of light 'from another direction,' and when I caught it - or thought I did - I followed where it went, for better or worse." In this new work, Dickey edges away from the narrative-based poems of his previous books and gives instead more primacy to the language in which he writes. His poetry gains flexibility, and his poetic power becomes even surer and more clearly expressed. "I have experimented," Dickey writes, "and look forward to experimenting more."
Trails and Portrayals
Edge Effect is Sandra McPherson's most original work to date. Constructed in two parts, the collection embraces secretly related worlds: the poetics of natural history and artistic discoveries of self-taught folk artists. Throughout, waves from one poem mark the shores of others. In natural history, an edge effect occurs where two communities, such as land and sea, overlap, that zone becoming more diversified than each of them. McPherson explores this effect in nature and art, questioning our notions of inside and outside, center and margin. Profound and moving, she recasts the very premises of formal understanding in poetry, accommodating at once the arts of nature and the nature of art.
The Einstein Intersection won the Nebula Award for best science fiction novel of 1967. The surface story tells of the problems a member of an alien race, Lo Lobey, has assimilating the mythology of earth, where his kind have settled among the leftover artifacts of humanity. The deeper tale concerns, however, the way those who are "different" must deal with the dominant cultural ideology. The tale follows Lobey's mythic quest for his lost love, Friza. In luminous and hallucinated language, it explores what new myths might emerge from the detritus of the human world as those who are "different" try to seize history and the day.
Kamau Brathwaite is a major Caribbean poet of his generation and one of the major world poets of the second half of the twentieth century. Elegguas--a play on "elegy" and "Eleggua," the Yoruba deity of the threshold, doorway, and crossroad--is a collection of poems for the departed. Modernist and post-modernist in inspiration, Elegguas draws together traditions of speaking with the dead, from Rilke's Duino Elegies to the Jamaican kumina practice of bringing down spirits of the dead to briefly inhabit the bodies of the faithful, so that the ancestors may provide spiritual assistance and advice to those here on earth. The book is also profoundly political, including elegies for assassinated revolutionaries like in the masterful "Poem for Walter Rodney."
Throughout his poetry, Brathwaite foregrounds "nation-language," that difference in syntax, in rhythm, and timbre that is most closely allied to the African experience in the Caribbean, using the computer to explore the graphic rendition of nuances of language. Brathwaite experiments using his own Sycorax fonts, as well as deliberate misspellings ("calibanisms") and deviations in punctuation. But this is never simple surface aesthetic, rather an expression of the turbulence (in history, in dream) depicted in the poems. This collection is a stunning follow-up to Brathwaite's Born to Slow Horses (Wesleyan, 2005), winner of the Griffin International Poetry Prize.
Poetics Across North America
Eleven More American Women Poets in the 21st Century is an exciting sequel to its predecessors in the American Poets in the 21st Century series. Like the earlier anthologies, this volume includes generous selections of poetry by some of the best poets of our time as well as illuminating poetics statements and incisive essays on their work. This unique organization makes these books invaluable teaching tools. Broadening the lens through which we look at contemporary poetry, this new volume extends its geographical net by including Caribbean and Canadian poets. Representing three generations of women writers, among the insightful pieces included in this volume are essays by Karla Kelsey on Mary Jo Bang's modes of artifice, Christine Hume on Carla Harryman's kinds of listening, Dawn Lundy Martin on M. NourbeSe Phillip (for whom "english / is a foreign anguish"), and Sina Queyras on Lisa Robertson's confoundingly beautiful surfaces. A companion web site will present audio of each poet's work.