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Articles by Clarice Waldman :

Women and Ghosts by Kristina Marie Darling is reviewed in The Lit Pub

 

The Erasure and Self-erasure of Women's Voices

02/10/16

The multiple modes of the erasure and self-erasure of women’s voices sit heavy with me this morning. I’ve read a beautiful and daring text entitled Women and Ghosts, by Kristina Marie Darling, which is part essay and part prose-poem, all experimental, where line-throughs, footnotes, multiple narrative lines, and alternating gradients of text are used to tell stories of female negations with silences and near silences—those that speak to the horror one can feel to realize that the acceptance of internalized conditioning to be less, to take up less space, is actually the most dangerous act a woman can commit or condone on a path to empowerment—and these have a long history. Kristina Marie Darling’s Women and Ghosts is a terrifying read, one well worth the time. For me, it felt like a beautiful funeral shroud, a gossamer wrap of a book I was reminded to cut myself free from in order to survive.

In this book, death, denial, self-sacrifice, and romance are inexorably linked. Gender and gender privilege are examined. The author is subversive in her inclusions and omissions, and the lines are meant to be catalysts toward appropriate rage. “In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Ophelia drowns under the weight of her own dress,” Women and Ghosts begins. “I had never imagined before that plain white silk could kill.”

But plain white silk didn’t kill, the reader may argue, jarred already by muted color of the words and the obvious falsehood they champion. Since when was a dress capable of killing? Enter now Darling’s world of realigning the reader’s reality by engaging in disruptive discourse. As the author expects the reader to remember, Ophelia, after losing her lover to palace intrigues, drowns herself in Hamlet. Surely her dress is not to blame, and neither is the water in which Ophelia, off-stage, drowns. At a deeper level, all readers familiar with Shakespeare’s play are aware that the lead character Hamlet’s rejection causes Ophelia’s complete self-immolation. And yet, in line one, Darling adjusts the narrative to hide the crime, makes excuses for it, blames a party blameless as a starry night or a sparkling lake, as written history often does, blurring the lines of blame in order to appropriately question them, where the dress in a virginal hue, ode to female innocence or purity, a highly gendered garment, takes betrayal’s place as villain.

Welcome to the nightmare gender labyrinth of refutation and disavowal. Not to read too much into this single line, but I already felt a chill travel my spine to see the exchange of correctly placed blame for self-defeating symbology and experienced a simultaneous awareness that this chill was intentionally created by the skillful author to highlight the contrast text the reader proceeds with as a paralleled modern “I” woman examines Ophelia’s plight and concurrently exists in a terrifying room where lovers spar and the ambient temperature grows colder and colder, as a modern man serves her joint bouts of gaslighting and liquor, tantamount to emotional abuse. Between doses of his cruelty and lack of returned care, in a sort of willful thought departure, the narrator muses on the aspects of Hamlet’s Ophelia plot most difficult and “unsayable,” at one point asking, “But what does it mean to give one’s consent? We are led and misled by those we love…” where a similar facility of displacement puts the reader right into the ghosted narrative of being two places at once, both interred in a historical play with a dead female victim of self-slaughter and standing in the midst of a new tragic history played out, where the “I” protagonist, already muted by pale ink, lives through a similar sort of identity reduction.

It is telling enough that this modern narrator says, “When he smiled, I felt my whole body grow colder,” where it seems as if a man’s cold judgment, masked by the false mirth of a smile, is on deliberate parallel with a lake in which to drown. Darling’s use of white space here, of incomplete interactions, of dissonance in the said/unsaid, is masterful.

Enter Shakespeare’s own words, often, as foil. Boldly on the pages that follow this opening line, interlacing at strategic intervals, the font periodically darkens, and the reader finds lined-through quotes from the bard, carefully excerpted to highlight the age old dilemma of inadequate self-valuation, of lost agency, of roles, one of such line-through excerpts reading, for example, “And I, of ladies most deject and wretched…

Here we see the duality of the work’s intent. On the one hand, this text receiving line-through, seems an empowering strategy where Ophelia’s self-negation is defeated by being struck from the record by a female author. However, it is also a female author’s inclusion of a man’s depiction of a woman’s defeat in darker text than the narrative of the modern fictive woman beside it. As in a painting, a color is best read in context, beside another color—so, surrounded by the pale gray text of the I narrator, the stronger hue of a man’s words, lined out or not, seem to extend the struck sentiment well beyond the century in which it was crafted.

Read The Whole Review Here 

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K: A 21st Century Canzoniere by I Goldfarb is reviewed in Rain Taxi

 

K: A 21ST CENTURY CANZONIERE

KcanzoniereI Goldfarb 
BlazeVox Books ($22)

by Michael Boughn

I Goldfarb’s K: A 21st Century Canzoniereis a marvel, with all the deep roots of that word (“to wonder at, be astonished”) still living there, squirming around. For one thing, there hasn’t been a book like this in quite a while—it contains 590 love poems, many of them classic Petrarchan sonnets dedicated to a student a good fifty years younger than the poet. Modeled on Petrarch’s Canzoniere, which was written almost 700 years ago, Goldfarb’s 21st Century update is an epic spiritual love poem in the age of online dating and televised courting, an age in which the cynicism about love grows exponentially in relation to its commodification and use. It is “a chocolate paradise of two” that leaves us marveling at its extraordinary accomplishment.

Petrarch’s book was unique. Often identified as the “father of Humanism,” Petrarch approached his relation to Laura, the object of his poetry, as a man in love caught between carnal desire and awe at her purity. No divine vision, a la his predecessor Dante, flowed from that. Instead Petrarch gave us the anxiety of mortal love and desire, the human drive/capacity that was first seen as ennobling and defining and has gone on to become a major, if not the major, commodity in late capitalism, the stuff of every pop song ever written as well as the most powerful marketing tool ever invented.

Read the whole review here

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DATA by Seth Abramson Now Available!

 BROWN-EYED POLISH 5’8.602” MASSHOLE FLATFOOTED HAIRY SKIN-TAGGED RUSSIAN 227 POUNDS BADGER FAN DARTMOUTH ’98 BROWN-HAIRED NEAR-SIGHTED JEWISH DANIEL BOOK REVIEWER AGNOSTIC LITHUANIAN ATTORNEY DEMOCRAT GAG REFLEX BEARDED CUP-EARRED COWLICK BALDING FACIAL DEFORMITY PALE 5.6” LONG BARITONE POET BULB-NOSED CIRCUMCISED SLOPE-SHOULDERED IOWA WRITERS WORKSHOP ’09 PLATELET COUNT 328 FAT-TONGUEDMEGALAPHOPIC SCHOLAR RING FINGER LONGER THAN INDEX INFLUENZA-VACCINATED NEW HAMPSHIRITE HYPOVITAMINOSIS D NON-ANGLO NON-DRINKERABUSE VICTIM HDL 36 NERD BROTHERLESS FORNICATOR MALE CAUCASIAN KOHEN GERD DEPRESSIVE IVY LEAGUER SETH R.J. GREY JHS ’90 TWO-FINGER TYPIST DEBTOR FORMER NOTARY WISCONSIN ’10 EDITOR NEW ENGLANDER CHAIMPROFESSOR LONG LASHES NEUROPATHY SUFFERER BP 129/87 AGE 39 INNIE 5,000 FACEBOOK FRIENDS ~73 RESTING NATIONAL MERIT SCHOLAR KLOUT 59.9HALLOWEEN BABY 1976 SCORPIO EXCESSIVE SWEATER AFOL ABD METAMODERNIST1490 GRE SUPER-SMELLER MARRIED 4.0 GPA AVID READER HETEROSEXUAL LDL 131AMERICAN CLASS D DRIVER HARVARD LAW ’01 AUTHOR “UNACCENTED” SOX FANAWP MEMBER HOMEWRECKER STUDENT EX-PUBLIC DEFENDER FAKE TOOTH17½-32/33 BLUE SUBSTANTIAL GIRTH ABRHS ’94 MUSIC COLLECTOR 204 CHOLESTOROL VERIZON RED CELL COUNT 4.80 TICKLISH HEART PALPITATIONSBLOGGER ABRAMSON GMAIL USER LIKELY HERNIATED DISC NON-SMOKER SMALL BUSINESS OWNER IQ 137 XY UNCLE LITTLE LEAGUE ALL-STAR SUBMISSIVECONFIRMED YOUNGEST CHILD REFORM LIGHT SNORER COLUMNIST CREATIVE WRITING MFA EXPERT TRIGLYCERIDES 187 SLIDING HIATAL HERNIA DOMINANTHEPATITIS A-VACCINATED MAC USER COLD FEET CROOKED NOSE MINUTEMEN FAN36 x 28 JEANS ACTONIAN VOTER NON-CLINICAL AGORAPHOBE MANCHESTERITEFANBOY 75 WORDS PER MINUTE LAWFUL GOOD 03101 2,810 FOLLOWERS GERMANJURIS DOCTORATE ENGLISH MAJOR TUTOR 21B T75 MA BMI 34.83 PC USERMCCARTHY-TOWNE ’88 CHAPPED LIPS BIG GREEN FAN ACTIVIST INFP GODFATHERSUPERTASTER BEST MAN ROTO OWNER DATA SPANISH SPEAKER FORMER WEED SMOKER GENERATION X 1360 SAT AKRON POETRY PRIZE WINNER  DOG-LOVER 177 LSAT BEAR ABLE-BODIED TAXPAYER AUTOMATONOPHOBE HONDA CIVIC $66,500BLOOD TYPE UNKNOWN GRAYING LIPP RECIPIENT PARIAH HUSBAND LIGHT-SENSITIVE LEASEE SCANDOPHILE SELF-TALKER PHOTOMORPHIC CONCORD NATIVEENGLISH-SPEAKING POOR VISION PESCATARIAN ARACHNAPHOBE SIZE 9 XX6-X4-5X4X STEVE BLASS DISEASE VERTIGO SUFFERER SOMETIME NOSE-PICKER NHBA MEMBER TENURE-TRACK INSURED ANGLOPHILE NYCTALOPIC IN ONE EYE UNH FANEAST COASTER PROBIOTIC USER U.S. CITIZEN 555 CANAL STREET FIREFOX USERAMAZON AUTHOR RANK 86,898 #33 MOST FAMOUS SETH IN U.S. CHEIMATOPHILECINEPHILE SETHABRAMSON.NET GREEN ROSE PRIZE WINNER LOW-GRADE PTSDANTI-AUTHORITARIAN HYPERBOLIC IDEALISTIC DISPIRITED SENSITIVE GENEROUSTALKATIVE IMPATIENT ANXIOUS GENTLE THOUGHTFUL EMOTIONAL CONSIDERATESINCERE CANDID PASSIONATE HONEST NAIVE VERBOSE NOSTALGIC FRIENDLYEGOTISTICAL LAZY TRUSTING ATTENTIVE KIND SPENDTHRIFT ARTICULATE GOODPROUD SELF-HATING COURAGEOUS IMAGINATIVE OPEN-MINDED INTROVERTEDEMPATHETIC LONER

 
 
Seth Abramson is the Series Editor for Best American Experimental Writing and an assistant professor of English at University of New Hampshire. Author of six books, he writes on metamodernism for The Huffington Post and Indiewire. In 2015 he published a prequel to DATAMetamericana, with BlazeVOX Books.
 
Book Information:
 
· Paperback: 156 pages
· Binding: Perfect-Bound
· Publisher: BlazeVOX [books] 
· ISBN: 978-1-60964-246-4
 
$16 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

DATA by Seth Abramson Book Preview

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Notes on a Past Life by David Trinidad Now Available!

In Notes on a Past Life, David Trinidad exorcises the ghosts of New York with a compulsively readable, wrenching memoir in verse. His “Goodbye to All That” offers a critique of ambition, an ode to community, and a sip of the poison that poetry is, in the end, the antidote to. —Eula Biss


David Trinidad’s poems in Notes on a Past Life are breathy and breathtaking. Forgoing traditional formal gestures, these memoir-verses burst with energy, finding their own shapes. No one writes nostalgia like Trinidad. He chronicles friendships with poets and the influence of poets who came before. He chronicles a glorious love affair and its aftermath, bad jobs, art, ambition, fame, 9/11, AIDS, dreams, meals, real estate, ghosts, lyrical gossip, the slights that haunt us, and the hurts we rise above.  Notes on a Past Life is a mature, wise, and enlightening book. —Denise Duhamel


This reader was depressed by the rancorous settling of scores but exalted by the homage paid to the great dead—a record of lived life, every second of it, and a love letter to New York (a letter written after a disappointing but gripping affair). —Edmund White


Notes on a Past Life catalogs in “Trinidadian” detail an outsider’s relationship to the insider world of New York City poetry—cutthroat parties, fragile egos, heartbreaking losses, as many endings as beginnings. Trinidad refuses the safe distance of “the speaker” in these autobiographical, intimate (sometimes searing) poems. This is a book for outsiders and insiders, for romantics and cynics. Some will be pissed. Some will be thrilled. And everyone will be “dishing” (as poets do) about this astonishing book, afraid to admit how much they love it. —Aaron Smith


David Trinidad’s other books include Dear Prudence: New and Selected Poems (2011) and Peyton Place: A Haiku Soap Opera (2013), both published by Turtle Point Press. He is also the editor of A Fast Life: The Collected Poems of Tim Dlugos (Nightboat Books, 2011). Trinidad lives in Chicago, where he is a Professor of Creative Writing/Poetry at Columbia College.

Book Information:

· Paperback: 238 pages

· Binding: Perfect-Bound

· Publisher: BlazeVOX [books] 

· ISBN: 978-1-60964-211-2

$16

 
 
 
 
 
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POEM FOR THE UNBORN| NOTE TO THE GREATEST GENERATION by Chuck Richardson Now Available!

 The hip thing these days is to be a poet and write fiction. It is not the hip thing these days to be a fiction writer and write poetry. The former brings possible public reward and greater numbers of readers; the latter brings no public reward and notice but by a few. That is the surface reason this book of poetry--a single dark, weird, shattering poem, really--by the singular fiction writer Chuck Richardson might trigger curiosity and attention. Even as its title fairly announces a refusal to hope for what the poem, given the rules and odds of the current game, will almost certainly not receive. Within the noise and clutter of the present situation, where, how, does a poem with no expectation or desire of reward fit in the frame of familiar poetic motive and need? That the poem is written out of such a question (and negative capability) is another, deeper reason it might trigger curiosity and attention. If not now, then perhaps when readers now unborn are reading... Perhaps. But even then probably not. Because the unborn, to poach from Richardson the poet, torque their cerebral tombs to tacitly melt the dreams of all poetry beams. Which were always the real bones of fiction, anyway.

—Kent Johnson

From the invocative opener of “Chant Divine Syrup,” onward through the “Ussing” of his “Emergent Satori,” the “Ash heaps smoldering / with refugees” that characterize Chuck Richardson’s Poem for the Unborn strike me as a needed addition to the American poetic milieu. Armed with the postmodern novelist’s sensitivity to “social speech types” and metanarrative (& Sade, Celine and Acker), Richardson manages to unearth and make striking, with an unrelenting parataxis and lethal dose of poem parody, an “alien optimism” of “Hubris,” nostering away in the quietude of his Love Hut. This devotional nihilism is a strange, beautiful and horrifying, all around frolicking work of a singular poetic instinct. Welcome Chuck Richardson’s debut in the form.

—Jared Schickling


Book Information:

· Paperback: 166 pages

· Binding: Perfect-Bound

· Publisher: BlazeVOX [books] 

· ISBN: 978-1-60964-237-2

$16

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

POEM for the UNBORN by Chuck Richardson Book Preview

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Photos on flickr