Thursday, June 30, 2005

Writing as woman. . .what the heck does that mean?

I've been doing a lot of reading from a feminist slant about Language Poetry, and it really is quite interesting. The thing that strikes me as most compelling is the idea, raised by Rachel Blau DuPlessis in an essay titled "Otherhow,"is that language poetry should eschew all representations of traditional beauty and reform them, mostly because woman and beauty are so connected the all things beautiful immediately objectify woman (as I understand it, anyway). This is why you rarely read a piece of language writing and say"wow, that's pretty". Of course, they're always trying to beat the crap out of the lyric speaker, which is essential to their politics I suppose, and DePLessis even takes one step further to point out how the poem, the piece of text in its material state (like how it exists on a piece of paper) is also considered sacred in the same sense as the lyric speaker is. She recommends a physical writing on outside of the boundaries in order to desecrate this sacred space, much like Howe does in MY EMILY DICKINSON, I suppose. The materiality of the page is an interesting notion to me, mostly because it is usually such a transparent aspect of poetry as we know it. When a poet really does something with JUST the space or orientation if text on the page, it really alters perception of the text, perhaps more than the language itself. I like thinking about aspects of poetry that are transparent, or as Bernstein calls it, "the artiface of absorption." I like the thought of calling attention to things we usually read "through" but wonder how this is possible while still maintaining some semblance of beauty. I like beauty in a poem, as long as it's not pretty. Pretty and beauty are two very different things. . .

1 comment:

Penultimatina said...

Well Mackenzie, I couldn't agree more with your views on beauty versus pretty, but that's no surprise to me, because we seem to have a really similar aesthetic. I am going to miss our workshops together, because you're one of the few people who actually "get" my poems and intentions. It's nice having a kindred spirit that way (and it makes me feel like I'm not just a raving lunatic who writes nonsense).

Though he's not a woman writer, I remember Baudelaire showing me that beauty didn't have to be--or actually shouldn't be--pretty. I have always found myself more attracted to rough edges and inconsistencies, rather than conventionally pleasing vistas. In my mind poetry is definitely not a "decorative art," and perhaps that's why women's writing has too frequently been relegated to the land of needlepoint and flower arranging.

I'm all for teeth, not smiles.