Note icon

Anne Waldman feature:
Return to the Contents list
This piece is 9,000 words
or about 20 printed pages long


Rachel Blau DuPlessis

Anne Waldman:
Standing Corporeally in One’s Time


Ab Ioue principium Musae; Iouis omnia plena;
ille colit terras, illi mea carmina curae.
             Virgil, Eclogue 3

Muses, my song begins in praise of Jove.
He makes all flourish; my song is in his care.
             David Ferry, translation, Virgil’s Eclogues

All is full of Jove.
             Waldman, from Virgil, Eclogue 3


Ernst Bloch wrote about modernity, “one has one’s time according to where one stands corporeally.”[1] This is a materialist position about standing in the now. Waldman extends this “now,” as a global citizen in the name of possibility. She generates hope for a “new time” in glimmers, in her artwork, her manifesto-like performances: “an antithesis to bald commercialism, selfishness, spiritual vacuity, political advantage, double-dealing, lying, dishonesty” and so on — as she says in her mini-essay about the Beats in Iovis II (143). In this she has consciously assumed the “King of the May” mantle from Allen Ginsberg. Waldman generates event, conscience and a sense of possibility by her presence.

Anne Waldman’s work in poetry exists at the intersection of activist passion, gender critique and wariness, and long poem ambitions. She is at root inspired by an Olsonic ambition to speak the whole social fabric as an incantatory, analytic cantor in shamanic voice. She is someone who can inhabit her own culture and play among a multiple of global sites with Blakean transformative lust. She calls us to account whenever she takes the witness stand: “Will some future generation look upon the ravages of the planet and the perpetuation of suffering by the powerful over the weak as a Second Holocaust? And see that no one attempted to stop the madness?”[2] Thus she stands corporeally in her time, in Ernst Bloch’s phrase. Many of her poetic works present illuminating political outrage about the continuing crisis of failed social justice across the world. She flays power with words, ignoring or disdaining voices that say such gestures are impossible. To Waldman one could apply the comment Charles Olson made about Pound: “[Pound] would be the first to stake his work as social in consequence. He is no poet to separate his poetry from society.”[3] Waldman tells us repeatedly and vividly that although we live in a modernity inflected by global oppressions, we nonetheless have the potential for global transformation.

Part of Waldman’s political citizenship involves a specific kind of gender outcry and analysis. We can discuss this once we acknowledge that writing is not ever a gender-neutral site. Waldman tries to place herself corporeally into gender materials and relationships, and, in her long poem (among other works), she investigates the damage and attraction of the gender sites we know. To the avant-garde, many feminisms have been inadequately mobile, uninterested in merriness, multiplicity of means, and chiaroscuro, too wedded to a monochromatic representation of the world of gender, too clear about univocal critiques and desires for healing or wholeness, too willing to buy a piece of power, or to engage in mono-dimensional naming rather than creating fissure and palimpsests.[4] On the other hand, since there are socio-political griefs in the world that must be addressed, to some feminists, the texture-oriented and performative avant-gardes have been inadequately materialist in their understandings of these griefs and urgencies. Could a feminist poetics of innovation make some dynamic syntheses of the politics and aesthetics surrounding gender questions? Some women contemporaries have confronted this seam between politics and the aesthetic with their long poems.[5] Iovis is Anne Waldman’s intervention into this debate, a poetic analysis concerning patriarchy, subservience, psychic and spiritual struggle.[6] The form this takes in Iovis I is an investigation of maleness as an idea and set of subjectivities in culture, politics, psychology and religion.

To make this investigation means experimenting with the means of investigating. Who speaks? How will “data” be accumulated? What does judgment portend? What happens when love and criticism collide? What subjectivity and what text can a speaker create? What questions are there that necessitate this work? There have been several theoretical discussions of a female subjectivity adequate to rewrite culture; these in themselves offer enough claims and cross-claims to attract and trouble any female writer, and one could well find evidence of each and all (“both-both”) in Waldman’s Iovis (Iovis I, 2). One may call upon the new female feminist subject (in Rosi Braidotti’s terms) or try to negotiate the wilds of a new heterogeneity (as does Luce Irigaray) — in the name of really achieving two sexes in dialogue, not just one. A person might find the idea of “writing the body” put forth by Hélène Cixous particularly liberating for women whose “bodies” have been so trashed or iconized in ideology as to be unrecognizable, and whose corporeal/ intellectual bearing needs to be reseen as Waldman might, as “a construct of multiple meanings, like a multifaceted jewel....”[7] One may even continue to find that Jungian ahistorical frameworks have explanatory power, for those terms may function as compelling metaphors and as mythically-connected names for one’s various subject positions, such as hag or puer. Waldman is frank about her allegiance to Jungian archetypes, noting certain benchmarks, for instance, her “‘Puer’ dreams. This possible, too, as she ages, having shed seductive submissive ingenue” (Iovis I, 177).

We have all lived in an era of the newly elaborated notion of the “feminine.” In post-structuralist and post-modern thought, the feminine is defined as free-floating resistance, as excess, the outside, the beyond, the ahistorical, non-symbolic otherness. This concept of the feminine is, in theory, unattached to gendered bodies — the male feminine is particularly powerful, as in Roland Barthes or Algernon Swinburne. There is also queered subjectivity that takes binarist gender (and its ideas) as moot, finished, untenable and untrue, and tries to imagine it is living in a world that has transcended these elements. To construct her speaking subjectivity, Waldman seems to have drawn, ad lib. and variously, on a mix of those propositions from feminist theorizing, but she has also declared, with this poem, the space of the female masculine, a performative incorporative masculinity inside a female body. However, unlike the “female masculinity” studied by Judith Halberstam, with its emphasis on butch and drag king behaviors or performances, Waldman always insists on feminine panache. Halberstam indicates that her taxonomy is incomplete: “the more we identify the various forms of female masculinity, the more they multiply” (Halberstam 46); Waldman is certainly one of the exemplars of female masculinity. Indeed, Waldman might be closest in her ferocity, performativity, and aggressions to the picture Michael Davidson draws of Sylvia Plath in Guys Like Us, with those “self-conscious assaults on gender binarism” (Davidson 160) by someone who will “interrogate masculine aspirations from within a speaker who embodies many of those aspirations” (Davidson 170).[8]

Waldman, like Alice Notley and other women loosely in the avant-garde and not in the women’s poetry movement (as it centered its canon of interests in the mid-70s through mid-late 80s), was very resistant to any victimization theorizing and against any sense that women have little or no agency. For them, early feminist critiques had a hard time not sounding like self-pity. This as if in a belated replay of Woolf’s Lily Briscoe’s angry, poignant remarks, as if they were constantly saying “women can’t write; women can’t assert.” Feminist thinking seemed, to these listeners, like an affirmation of disabilities, when it was, instead, trying to encounter and name the gender assumptions, the taboos buried in culture and in internalized/ externalized values that blocked female striving. Indeed, as Ann Snitow and I argued in our introduction to The Feminist Memoir Project, any “victim status” thinking was viewed, in early second-wave feminism, as a naming of a thankfully temporary female condition, a condition soon to be rendered obsolete by the intensities and gains of feminist politics. Such terms were not meant to offer frozen and undialectical analysis.[9] But despite having some common concerns, the two poetic worlds in which women were active did not meet or bond.

For at the same time, another aspect of early feminism was a stirring affirmation of female power and transcendence. Waldman’s Fast Talking Woman (1974) was a performance of assertive female power contemporaneous with semi-canonical works like Ntozake Shange’s performance piece for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf (1975) and works taken as belonging to a lesbian-separatist world, such as Judy Grahn’s A Woman Is Talking to Death (1973). It is also true that in feminism’s effort to bring women up to scrutiny, men and maleness were sometimes treated as a backboard, as hypostasized, and even distasteful, objects, not as mobile, in-process subjectivities, albeit ones with certain guarantees — or at least chits — of social power. Certainly Iovis responds transformatively to this issue. Thus Waldman may have been notably ambivalent to the women’s poetry movement in certain of its manifestations, yet she also drew, sub rosa, on its feminist intellectual and cultural energies to confirm and extend her own evident energy.

Such writers as Waldman, active in Doing and Making (scenes, magazines, presses, work) felt they had disproved, by their own agency and bohemian élan, some of the claims made in other poetic circles of female powerlessness to be cured by allegiance to all-women communities. So these writers had a strong resistance to, and even some contempt for feminism as a movement, something visible in Notley’s Mysteries of Small Houses, for example, in which small-mindedness is displayed on both sides in the debate about “men.” The Women of St. Mark’s thought their own life histories and productivity rendered irrelevant or moot the questions of access, representation, canonicity, and literary history that feminists raised. And this resistance continued despite the capacity of both sets of cultural workers to commit, or to construct, polemical “women’s” poems. Waldman’s recent poem “Abortion,” a simple poem of political outrage, uses the jeremiad genre to turn any accusation of a crime by women outward to speak of crimes (rape, patriarchal control) committed against women. In style, tone, and purpose, as an instrumental intervention, this poem could have appeared in This Bridge Called My Back.[10] And this resistance continued despite the capacity of both sets of cultural workers to construct major critiques of gender and the social order, on the scale, for example, of Alice Notley’s major mythopoetic intervention, The Descent of Alette, a magisterial feminist work, making a critique of patriarchy and tyranny and of the internalized consciousness and external society that supports these forms of social control.

Waldman’s position can be framed with Denise Riley’s insight — one wants to see gender, talk about gender, work through gender, transfigure gender, organize thinking to consider gender — and also wants sometimes to get beyond any such category. Denise Riley says about the female situation at the end of her book “Am I That Name?”: “while it’s impossible to thoroughly be a woman, it’s also impossible never to be one” (Riley 114). It is just a step to translate Riley’s formulation in this way, a way I enjoy: “while it’s impossible thoroughly to be a feminist, it’s also impossible never to be one.” For whatever the unevenness of approaches to feminism in this period (and there were plenty), from a historical point of view all the sectors of women writing were inflected with, touched by that particular “angel of history” (this, of course, Walter Benjamin), and touched with all due ambivalence and wariness, by its contradictory guises of positive assertion and negative skepticism and resistance. All female poets of the avant-garde (and always some male poets, too) had to — were compelled to — come to terms with feminist cultural and political challenges. All women writers, whether they did this consciously, or willingly, or not, were saturated with feminist questions, feminist demands, its cultural critique and its ferocity. The evidence is in their work and in the growing importance of feminist reception or gender analyses to the careers of women experimental writers — even if the writers themselves had ambivalent or resistant relationships to feminism, or to the women’s poetry movement (which does not, and should not be the only container of feminist thought).[11]

In this, I would agree with the strategic formulation proposed by Steve Evans: it is vital to keep in play feminism and avant-gardism together in order to avoid the sharply articulated culs-de-sac he lucidly details: an avant-garde poetry without a sense of gender, a theoretical post-structuralism without any sense of contemporary poetry and its practices, and a feminist institutionalizing of a single poetics. This essay, too, attempts to avoid “an avant-garde without women, a poetics without poetry, and a poetry for which entire registers of experience, innovation, and reflexivity are taboo” (Evans, differences ii).

For wherever one began in relation to writing, to call for, to notice, to comment upon the productive and compromised presence of women artists and writers, indeed, to be one of those writers, has entailed a negotiation (sooner or later) with the feminism of cultural critique, whether this critique features equality or difference (the great dialectic of feminist thinking) or tacks strategically between these. For it was feminist cultural criticism that articulated and foregrounded the roles that gender plays in culture — in the production, dissemination, reception, and continuance of artists and texts. And feminist analysis really wanted — still wants — to change culture fundamentally. Thus while women’s writing is not particularly self-similar at the point of production, there may be strategies and motifs related to the female position in culture that can be found in it. And women’s writing becomes rather similar at the point of reception, so to speak — because (without intentional, subtle and concerted feminist reception) it is similarly treated by “the patriarchal government of poetry,” to cite Clayton Eshleman’s phrase in Companion Spider. It is for these reasons that the care and maintenance of feminist — socially located — reception has been my concern, and not the demand that people from certain groups write a certain way, nor that they attend only to certain materials or themes or modes of representation, nor the argument that certain themes and stances are essentially (rather than situationally) expressive of their social location.

But feminist critique is not simply about gender: it is also a challenge to the split between thought and feeling; a critique of values of profitability and wealth as social goods when in fact they create inequality, exploitation and immiseration; it is a rejection of all the forces that create the disenfranchised. The task of feminist critique is the pluri-decentering of binarism and hierarchy. It is a critique of power in the names of social justice and gender justice. The task involves standing corporeally within gender structures and other structures of oppression to break down these enormous pillars of patriarchal culture so that something new can be built as one is leveraging critique. So the feminism of critique is based on inquiry, resistance, disobedience, rage, and on placing yourself as if in utopian new time. It is in this enlarged sense that Waldman speaks in Iovis, a poem of feminist investigation and critique from “an oppositional poetics” (Iovis I, 298). Iovis is “a long piece which ‘took on’ male energy in all of its manifestations” — in the lives of the men around her, and in herself as bearer and critic of male energy.[12]

What is “a woman” but a person mainly gendered female whose subjectivities and masks may be far from female — may be boy, male lesbian, female masculine. A woman is a person human and parallel to a man; a person some of whose experiences are different from a man’s; a person socialized to the pleasures and temptations of dress-up femininity; a person intrigued by the mythic claim to otherness in the (so called) “feminine” space of language. Thus any woman in Iovis may be called polygynous — she has “married” many women, many meanings of woman and women, many meanings of man and men in a rapturous textual space. She is also investigative — like a detective — she wants to find out about power, and thus again she must examine men and maleness. She wants to tell her truth. Waldman’s poetics of gender is put forth in “FEMINAFESTO” from Kill or Cure. She says: “I’d like here to declare an enlightened poetics, an androgynous poetics, a poetics defined by your primal energy... a transsexual literature, a hermaphrodite literature, a transvestite literature, and finally a poetics of transformation beyond gender. That just sings its wisdom” (145). It is clear that Waldman has some proto-queer ideas about how one’s subjectivity is performative, how (to a certain degree) subjectivity does not necessarily go with body. The poem is like Blake’s demonic printing presses coining new gender-money. Male-female — hermetic bisexual hermaphrodite or androgynous twins seems to be the plan for Iovis I, II and the projected III.

There are several versions of female subjectivity and social position in much feminist or proto-feminist thinking about women in this period, and the fact that these positions are in contradiction does not make them any less important, influential, powerful, or palpably generative. The positions are female equality, female difference, and [female] queerness. For instance, the second book of Iovis (Iovis II, 142-146) contains an important 1994 epistolary essay about the place of women among the Beats, an essay that opens the question of female difference in historical power and position. At one and the same time, the essay defends the Beats for their achievements and acknowledges what Waldman names their “sexism” and “racism” and their “fear of women’s power.” In the course of this letter, Waldman discusses the very narrow options for women in the 1950s if you were at all “strange,” artistic or bohemian: madness and shock treatments, abortion and physical terror of illegality and, if you were really unlucky, infertility or even death, and/ or suicide attempts from sheer nihilistic pain of non-conformity. (Sylvia Plath also discusses some of this in another register in her novel The Bell Jar). This section acknowledges a specificity of female cultural history (that is, female difference at a certain time and place), and puts in evidence an interview with Joanne Kyger that even somewhat undercuts her Beat-analysis, and indeed, puts in her headnote her own resistance to what she said: “sleepless, she rises once again to be an apologist for the macho Beat Literary Movement” (Iovis II, 134), suggesting a shift in her own upbeat attitudes between 1994 and 1996/ 7). In the important essay called “‘I is Another’: Dissipative Structures,” Waldman speaks for “feminine energy.” This seems to be a position for female equality as in “I am, as a woman, adequate, capable, inspired, in readiness, as good as anyone” (Kill or Cure 212).

This position is verified by Waldman’s inclusion in this essay of her poem claiming her birth as a performative poet from the Zeusian head of Charles Olson during the 1965 Berkeley Poetry Conference (Kill or Cure 209). Waldman was present at the conference in which the Olsonic genre of performance, crossing essay, poem, chant, and declaration was particularly rich and provocative/ provoking. Iovis is a substitute Maximus, and Waldman deploys herself in ways like Olson and in ways like a critique of Olson as a figure. In part from Olson and others, the poem deploys tactics of heterogeneity of diction and allusion, and an enhanced textuality as the page of poetry holds more than usual — more space, marks, non-letters, pictures, gestures, diagrams. There is a heterogeneity of dissemination practices, too, that have one point of origin in Olson, with a strong emphasis on performance and poetic drama and a renovation of sound and the ear as means of poetic fabrication. The Olsonic impulse also enters with the “realism” of this poem in its documentary fervor.

However, “Feminafesto” also wants to claim female difference in ways that absolutely parallel claims from the center of the women’s poetry movement. Mythic allusions, ancient wisdom’s special functions for female are accepted as such, taken as compelling and applicable contemporary information — as the end of this essay in “Gaia worship” (Kill or Cure 212-13). And the essay also maintains a different female genealogy of poets, tracing her own poetic lineage to Sappho’s singing school and its basis in ritual (Kill or Cure 194-198). Waldman’s wobbling contradictions between female equality claims and female difference claims are very situational, not at all self-consistent. They are even opportunistic. One seizes the means that are to hand; “skillful means” (a Waldman phrase out of Buddhism) implies the analysis of situation and applying the right “nom de guerre” to triumph. So Waldman’s position shifts in thesis-antithesis between equality and difference claims — this undecidability and situated analysis is in fact characteristic of much feminist thinking. It is this that enables the great power grab made by Waldman in Iovis: “Jove or Zeus or any procreative male deity is presumably filling up the phenomenal world with his sperm. He rules through possession, rape, and through the skillful means of the shape-shifter as well. From the psychological point of view (as a ‘daughter’), I need to call him out, reveal him, challenge him, steal his secrets” (Kill or Cure 198).

Given that Iovis I opens — opens! with a citation from the famous so-called “Christological” passage from Second Isaiah: 52-53 about the man of sorrows, the claim Waldman immediately makes concerns female messianism (5), something one also sees in the great Victorian novel in verse by Barrett Browning, Aurora Leigh. The proposition is — when you want world-historical and ethical transformation, a woman shall lead them. This boldness does not stop, nor does the syncretic religious impulse falter; just a few pages later, the speaker imagines herself inseminated by Jove (Iovis I, 7). A world-cultural arc is evoked; Hindu and Buddhist tropes and mythologies will soon be engaged. This is a mythic-synthetic imagination at work, incorporative and “Golden Bough”-ish — but trying to re-torque mythology to discuss gender transformation. Thus one element of this work is its revisionary mythopoetic quality — an element significant to works of the women’s poetry movement (like Rich’s Diving into the Wreck), but also worked through in modernist mythic imaginations. In H.D.’s Trilogy, Christian mother Mary becomes a fertility goddess; in Helen in Egypt, H.D. examines the roots of bellicose violence as a repression of the passionate attraction to the mother, feelings of matri-sexual import.[13] Waldman particularizes these forces contributing to female power and sexuality with letters and interviews to her specific, local family — her father, her childhood (Iovis I, 10).

In the Allen Ginsberg (“Howl”) and Allen Grossman (Summa Lyrica) narratives of poetic possibility, the Oedipal fantasy of being in the bed of the mother recurs for the male poet. This tenderness and hotness around incestuous fantasies is also visible in some work of Robert Creeley. One may have to confront a parallel? similar? or different? psycho-biography in Waldman. She claims the desire for the father, the freshness of the oedipal girl, the play with and through incest with a brother. Waldman makes the Jungian claim of archetypal repetition and offers a marital vow to these brothers and father, “I honor & obey these first men in my life...” (Iovis I, 14), and she immediately writes a primary sex act that inseminates her with the ambition to accomplish this poem, “It feels like the great sperm whale entered me” (Iovis I, 20).

However, insemination as one male act is not half of the “it” that will be this poem. The poem proposes allegorized interactions with men that attempts to diagnose them by revealing their potency — even through their weakness and fallibility, their losses, their self-deceptions, their assumptions. Waldman constructs the poem as a force field for gender, and what one quickly finds is that gender involves everything there is — school, children’s games, war, Rocky Flats, random sex, old poems by Pound and Williams (or remakes of those hits), concepts like beauty, goodness, justice, the destruction of forests for “Happy Meal boxes” (Iovis I, 274). As Myra Jehlen notably argued, “gender has emerged as a problem [an issue] that is always implicit in any literary work,” implicit in every cultural act.[14] We pass to needy, whining, men; we pass to male civilization giving benefits to men in great productive washes of power, and civilization hurting men, sacrificing them constantly. The speaker negotiates this influx and wash of contradictory material and findings constantly through the poem. This is her “both-both” poetics at work. Narratively, she, in her own oedipal desire for the father, and/ or the power of the father and/ or the phallus of the male, also, at the same time, negotiates the oedipal urgency of her son (“You are my wife Mommy you are the dream of me” [Iovis I, 25]). Simultaneity of conflicting transformations are both method, and technique. The poem seems to be the collection of materials put, in each section, into a rhetorical swirl calling for metamorphosis.

Section XIII of Iovis I offers the term Aetiological (etiology): a medical study of the causes, origins, reasons. Etymologically speaking, it is an allotting of responsibility. This is the key word for the diagnostic element of Waldman’s epic. She will study causes and rationales of patriarchy especially in the cultural field, but also in the political, military, spiritual; she will assign responsibility; she will analyze and implicate — and imprecate! There are multiple “plots” — but one plot is weaning herself from Jove. She rehearses her own history, saying that she “stuck by her patriarchal male companions” and was their “trusted confidante,” but, alas, the power she got was an illusion, and she must thus confront the Jovian patriarchal center — no individual man can help you negotiate patriarchy (Iovis I, 143). This is a pretty stark and bold position, one that makes a feminist separation of blessed or helpful individuals from any patriarchal system as a cultural artifact. The individuals are men (and sometimes women) who never (or rarely) think they participate in the powers and privileges of this system. There is a resemblance, in a different poetic register, between this finding and Alice Notley’s structuring of The Descent of Alette around two key actions: the mid-book healing of the headless Mother (by the affirmation of female intelligent compassion and by the application of male blood given by a dead man) and, the climatic action in Notley’s book, the killing of the patriarchal Tyrant, who oppresses male and female both.

In Iovis, there is an ongoing discussion of several contemporary men, among them Robert Creeley and John Cage. Waldman asks what possibilities they model, and whether (using John Waldman, her own father, here), a woman in the “daughter” position finds it is plausible, easy, reasonable, or forbidden to “inherit” from these men. The question of inheritance is offered in its most condensed form in a play with French gender (Iovis I, 193): “(père et son fille) / sa fille.” Waldman has an acute and observant sense of genealogy, and filiations. This bearing is not innocent: she will write herself into history as the daughtered son, or the sonned-daughter of a great male figure. There are different Waldman attitudes in this work: she is motivated to play the game of patriarchy accurately and with finesse, but she also diagnosis its ills with resistance and suspicion. Her brilliant performance piece in homage to John Cage, the penultimate canto in Iovis I, memorializes an artist who is gentle, active, inventive, and productive, allowing her to affirm androgyny because of his (Iovis I, 309). In general, in this poem-long diagnosis, “She rides through the poem on / villains, brothers, saints, deities / they speed her on” (Iovis I, 333). The astonishing Kristin Prevallet letter in Iovis II (36-37) discusses Creeley, female writers, and the beginning of female cultural consciousness, dramatically showing the recurrence of issues and problems relating to female creativity in a new generation. Iovis thus, in its own way, continually proposes the necessity for feminist or gender-oriented analyses of culture.

In this letter Prevallet challenges and admires Waldman in equal measure, wondering precisely how she survived as a female writer:

Interestingly enough, Creeley asked the class today [circa 1994] if anybody knew of anyone who was attempting to write an epic on the scale of Olson, and people mumbled this and that, and I said, but of course, A.W. and Creeley disagreed with me, and I still find it strange, not on the basis of writing/ poetic skill etc., but EGO! What he meant is that your work is more personal in that you bring in letters, stories about your child, emotional instances, etc. (although admittedly, the boundaries get very shifty here — I mean Olson’s persona was huge and was personal) So I was thinking what was at stake here was not ego but gender, and I wonder how you felt about it. (Iovis II, 36)

She continues, noting that people do not complain about male EGO,

Well, I am very confused about the whole thing because I am being confronted with the problem — to be forward, or to hang back — to perform or to whisper — to vanish or to shine forth.... And [speaking about another incident] I know this is only the beginning of similar kinds of interactions, where I speak my mind and get my hand slapped afterward, like I did something BAD, or even worse.... (Iovis II, 37)

Despite the examples of strong women writers in the generation before hers (Kathleen Fraser is also mentioned in this letter), here again a woman writer presents these recurrent questions: may a woman have EGO as an artist, who is it that allows her, what is the price of her engagements, and what are the internalized and exterior costs and even punishments that a woman writer risks. These are thoroughly feminist questions.

One way Waldman solves these cultural problems of access for women is by assuming that her subjectivity is not just female, but is also male. “Both-both,” again. The subjectivity of the work Iovis speaks in response to Jove as shape-shifter; she makes herself Puer (boy or youth) as shape shifter or trickster figure (“Puer, picaresque adventurer,” she says [Kill or Cure 144]). She conjures this figure, holding the mother at bay (Iovis I, 177). Being a puer figure leads her to the incisive command: “rise up paginal” (Iovis I, 187). Rise up meaning, appear, be prominent, increase in intensity, return to, or get erect. This “paginal” I read as like a page or boy helper figure. As a pun on vaginal, as if the vagina could erect, and finally, the adjective pertaining to the pages of a book. Thus when things rise up paginal, they constitute a male vagina of the book. Which is what this book is — an active vaginal space in which sperm-words enter and inseminate. So there are two genders always on this page. Self-consciously and consistently making the claim of dual genders also at the same time confuses and transcends the issue of gender totally (which means a queered sensibility is also, sometimes, in play).

To appreciate the dual genders, we need to take seriously Waldman’s playful and serious claim, made sometimes, that she disidentifies with her own gender, or certainly with its disabilities. This is both a dangerous and an entrancing, enchanting position. Her analysis is keen. Patriarchy says only itself and its men can be promiscuous, adventurous, far-ranging, seeking, piratical (that last, a Kathy Acker subject position) (Iovis I, 107-08). Patriarchy says females must be loyal and relatively meek. Waldman sweeps this demand for femininity and mildness away. But holding the mother at bay or “scorning the mother” is a problematic position, given that one is also a mother and a female (this in Iovis I, 177-187). “Scorn for women” — something well-known from the first Futurist manifesto — is like playing with fire. Does this mean scorn for the parasitic, feminine, the enforcer of bourgeois social norms? If so, then scorn seems like an appropriate response, one often made by feminists. But if this means scorn for the whole female gender as an entity, such “scorn” is unalloyed misogyny. However, this position is not consistent, for in the essay “Feminafesto,” Waldman speaks of the mother as model, suffering with unexpressed creativity that inspires her daughter’s oeuvre.[15] Her determination to persist as a thinking, creative woman, her resistance to compromising her desires have their origin there.

As she gets older, Waldman also foregrounds the third phase of a Jungian triple goddess — the “hag” archetype. This raging witch and speaker of curse and imprecation is off the scale of binary gender, beyond the desire to please men or the more timid women. Waldman finds these Jungian categories appeal to her; her revision of them lies in claiming both puer and hag. This is a typical Waldmanian “greed,” as it sets her as the gatherer of multiple forces, and the sustainer of these forces in contradiction. It is clear that the struggles of gendered subjects are major struggles of loyalties and desires inside the speaking subject. Whole dramas and allegories of gender unroll inside Waldman as speaker no matter what subjectivity she assumes. That is why the genre “encyclopedic poem” is prime; it is a genre of inclusion and juxtaposition adequate to the matter at hand.

An encyclopedic poem is certainly heterogeneous in genre; and for Waldman one might easily identify ode, newspaper clipping, epistle, conversation, jeremiad, interview, documents, lyric, dream records, diatribes, arias, sestinas as among the genres included in Iovis. No matter how long the genre list, one can never account for all its genres.[16] Thus one point is the plethora or dynamism of her generic urges, which is a fact of many (although not all) long poems in this period. Both Smaro Kamboureli (speaking about the Canadian long poem) and Lynn Keller (for contemporary long poems by women) discuss the 20th-century long poem in general as alluding to many genres — specific choices of materials from epic, lyric and serial poem, narrative — and thus a flexible and ambitious vehicle (Kamboureli, On the Edge of Genre; Keller in Parini, ed.; and Keller, Forms of Expansion). The encyclopedic long poem clearly functions as such a flexible genre compendium. As such a poem, Iovis is generically hybrid, polyphonic, intertextual, conceptual — a pooling of documents and acts of analysis and outcry.[17]

An encyclopedic poem is simply inclusive. Although encyclopedias are generally organized by the alphabet, giving a non-teleological order to things, the encyclopedic long poem insists that anything and everything could, in principle, be included in any order, so it gives the feeling that no cultural censorship has taken place — no exclusions for false norms, for standards of elegance or fitness. This aesthetic of inclusiveness is certainly Waldman’s. When Waldman began Iovis in around 1985 or 1986, she remembers “feeling for a time I needed a long poem.... I often tend to get a bit too scattered... so the idea of putting all of the writing into one place, under one rubric, was a relief! Anything that arose might go into that work....” (AWP Chronicle, 28.1 [Dec. 1995]: 1; “An Interview with Anne Waldman,” conducted by Lee Christopher). Waldman thus uses the poem to account for motion, meaning both change or flux and teleology of betterment. Unlike the analogous poems of Pound and Williams, this poem, according to Waldman, “is 4-dimensional in its performance” — a way for Waldman to stand corporeally with the work, and to some degree a way for her to modify, to cut or to emphasize some of the materials in performance as a griot might. There is a sense that this poem is a multi-act opera without one singular or particular narrative, but a magical “Bollywood” production, incorporative, absorptive, dashing. This is her sense of channeling energy, but it makes of “writing” a way-station or “go-between” to performance. This has some cost in word-to-word attention or carefulness. A more static analogy for its form is a “temple” — one with pluralities, polytheisms, and a sense that the sacred is everywhere.

This inclusivity does not necessarily have a master-subjectivity organizing it, as one finds in Paterson, with the topos of the speaking subject wandering among, but not totally participating in, his city. And Paterson, like Iovis, offers a community of voices — wild, wary, hopeful, yearning, needy, dynamic, critical, responsive voices that are not the poet’s voice. The use — part of her inclusivity — of letters and of some interview exchanges are a feature of Iovis that tends to make subjectivity of the poet/ speaker a field site of cross-hatching vectors. It is not that the subjectivity is decentered; it is that a zillion demands pull and tug at her, and she attempts to satisfy all of them. While I don’t want to romanticize female difference here, this dilemma of overload takes on a particularly female cast. Kathleen Fraser in “Tradition of Marginality” in her Translating the Unspeakable: Poetry and the Innovative Necessity will sometimes note the female relations to life-issues that lead to a sense of difference, and also refuse to romanticize that position, resisting the separatist. The demotic form of the encyclopedia poem is the scrapbook. And the scrapbook is a domestic, artisanal, hobby-horse genre. It is this version of the encyclopedic poem that Waldman has mastered.

Waldman uses the scrapbook-look of her page as a utopian space of “both-both” attitudes — she can put things together in dynamic inclusivity because she will provide the syntax of connection within corporeal passions of performance (Iovis I, 2). “Both-both” is a brilliant formulation, rejecting as too binarist the notion of “both-and.” The page as score for a performance has a number of functions for Waldman. It is a place to locate “other informations [that] weave in her” (Iovis I, 100) — that is, it is a holding place, a site in which you collect things because you do not want them to get lost, forgotten, obscured. This tremendous sense of the rescue of the lost marks particular periods in writing — here it marks women’s writing, whether the work is by Adrienne Rich or Susan Howe, and whether it investigates lost women only, or lost aspects of history. Iovis is keen on this necessity; for example, the poem collects her own principled political interventions, one of many letters of protest that enter this text, for example, “I believe that Mr. wa Mulumba is a prisoner of conscience” (Iovis I, 31). The materials tend to make faceted or nuanced our sense of “men” or “malehood.” There are many letters included: a crackpot inventor offering his ideas to women, not to men, and a winsome needy student waiting to be acolyte, epigone, and above all recognized (Iovis I, 32-33) and a poignant letter about a young boy discovering that he is gay (Iovis I, 54-56). Any few pages in this book run a wild tonal and informational gamut that one might simply note as Waldman’s mode of “realism” — a precise use of realism in poetry (very similar to what Olson and Williams did), both trying to account for, to sound out what we are now by what has happened to a site (maleness) in historical time. The page is a dynamic instrument, a transformative forge in a Blakean sense.

Iovis is fundamentally a gigantic collage of materials located around issues for meditation. Every section cuts down through a time, takes place in a transfigured locale (sometimes a merging of geographical sites) that is essentially a meta-materialist space for meditation, and works through — or at least locates — a problem or issue: “How to change rhythms on a cellular level” (XI in Iovis I, 154) or in “Ambrose: Nam” (XIX in Iovis II), “What did you see? he asks. What do I know?” (Iovis I, 241) The “strands” of the poem “come together karmically” (Iovis I, 298). The advantage of collage modes — the collection dragnet — is also its weakness, an anything/ everything goes mentality; the poem is an extension of “catchall notebooks” kept over many years (Waldman, AWP Chronicle interview, 4). An encyclopedic poem always raises the possibility that there is just too much heterogeneity and fragmentation.

Some of that heterogeneity is galvanized by the sometime evocation of the manifesto genre; like “scrapbook,” this is another key long-poem genre allusion. For the poem, like many specifically encyclopedic long poems (certainly like Pound’s Cantos) has a manifesto impulse — the look of urgency on its page, the theatricality of now-time in its gestures, the sense of speed, immediacy and even crisis are admixed with rumination. The temporalities are mixed. A manifesto creates the sense that the “moment of social transition” is happening there on the spot; that the poem is not the representation, but the vehicle of this transformation, and that the poem as manifesto will “mark the artistic praxis that will create that new world.”[18]

If the page is, as I’ve said, also a score, then any page stands in a position of conflict — it is a way-station on the way to something else (a performance), and it is a place where things accumulate and get pieced together in the here and now. The page in Iovis is a space of declarative urgency (the manifesto root), but it is never, or rarely, seen as a place of poise, of stability, of the iconic. Indeed, Alice Notley points to the documentary and autobiographical/ accumulative impulse behind Waldman’s work, with some skepticism — the poem, she says, is going to be “what happens next,” but she nonetheless suggests that while “the form makes flaws possible” still “possibly poetry should make room for flaws, being a human form” (Notley, “Iovis,” 121, 126). Waldman, inside her choices, justifies the looseness and assimilative flair of the work with a “Beat Buddhist” (and incidentally Olsonic) aesthetic enunciated (Notley, “Iovis,” 128-29) as an “energy pulse” — form is activity, form is energy. Form is choice on the run, is event, not stasis, or reflective choice. “Rather than have the poem be an extrapolation, a refined gist of a ‘high’ moment, I want it to be the experience... a poem that would include everything and yet dwell in the interstices of imagination and action” (Waldman, AWP Chronicle interview, 6). The poem — a Western poem of potential, subjectivity and assertion — also tries to dramatize “the dynamic pratitya samutpada, the interconnectedness of the whole ‘scene’” (Iovis II, 241). (This sometimes occurs in its adolescent deformation: “Mom, you are so random,” as in Iovis II, 221.)

What interests me particularly in Iovis are its analogies to encyclopedic long poems by Pound and Williams.[19] In modern long poems like Paterson and the Cantos, there is a strong component of diagnosis. With their pileup of evidence, the encyclopedism gives the illusion (and it is an illusion really) that all elements of a given society and culture have been covered. This contributes to the sense of totalizing of these poems even when they have many loose ends. Further, such poems (and this is part of the pleasure) seem to adumbrate in their field and polyvalent accumulations a new society, and a new and total culture (as Pound once said). That is, the very form of the poem is a sociality and a hope for social transformation. This is quite true of Waldman’s poem, although it is not clear that she allows this form to argue for final or rested; in contrast, Notley’s The Descent of Alette is very conscious of its ending: a secular vision based on the resurrection in the flesh, of bodies emerging from the grave of the subway. In Notley’s vision, too, everything is left to be done; there is no prescription for a new society. Such a society will be built by the values learned in the struggle with the Tyrant.

Waldman’s speaking subject claims authority — but it is the authority of investigation — like a detective, a follower of clues, an explorer, a discoverer (and as I said above, there is often a sense that the subjectivity of the poem is on overload with the pressures and voices of all the others she allows to speak forcefully in her text). Especially Pound’s subjectivity was the revealer of the hidden, occluded, structures — it is the voice of someone who has uncovered a gigantic conspiracy and does not doubt his findings, their importance, nor his unchangeable subject position as catalyst case-manager. This is the ambition to speak the whole social fabric and articulate root issues or problems that can be analyzed by means of the collage coupure and engaged juxtapositions the poem provides. For Pound, the issue was economic deception and degradation. He called this usury instead of capitalism; he became fixated on Jews as history’s villains. Pound had a golden age vision with a sense of ultimate restoration of that age with Mussolini. The Cantos were fundamentally traumatized by WWI and then again by WWII. Pound offers political and historical materials (“tales of the tribe”); an anthology boil-down — a summa of what’s really important; a declaration that the work is not fiction (although presumably it is fictive), that is there’s real message, real document in the work. This goal — that poetry should analyze, appreciate, explore what is happening in the real world is vital to Waldman: “May it be her ultimate sirventes, that old troubadour refrain of outrage toward a botched civilization” (Iovis II, 287) sums up the Poundean motif, citing Pound’s “Hugh Selwyn Mauberley.” The encyclopedic poem is evaluative and judgmental.

In Waldman’s Iovis scrapbook of array, as in Pound’s Cantos, or Williams’ Paterson, there are so many materials that the goal of judgment may seem implausible. But it is a purpose central to the encyclopedic long poem. Judgment may occur in a variety of ways. The paradox of Pound’s setting out the notes and glosses that constitute a lot of the poem so that the reader can “draw his own conclusions” from the data — yet the conclusions are predigested by Pound — it is one of those “fake” Socratic projects that lead only to the conclusion the pedagogue proposes. Williams’ method of judgment was a tactic of field composition that he called “rolling up,” so that great chunks of material, as they crossed, could have one key idea extrapolated from them — such as waste, or need for “marriage” — explorations of sexuality, or a sense of wonder amid the damage.

Paterson is a somewhat more attractive poem because of Williams’ willingness to engage with criticism and doubts about the poem and the project inside the very poem. Just like the fierce, lacerating letters from “Cress” in Paterson that undermine the subjectivity of Paterson right where it really hurts — in his own self-justificatory gender narrative, so in Waldman’s poem, severe self-doubt enter and inflect the project — a kind of “nekuia” moment, as in the epic plot, of a descent to the underworld. The self-doubt is striking: coming “to rest with her box of scraps, notes, journals, memorabilia, letters, unfinished versions, her major task continuing unsettled at her feet. She spreads the documents about her, and bows her head. She feels a burden to sustain the plan. The society is crumbling around her. She can barely withstand the daily news” (Iovis I, 279). One section later, she feels marginalized within her own community (Iovis I, 286). She incorporates the letter of a provocative, empathetic reader who calls attention to the “transport” of the writing, the sense of riding the words, the issue that language is often used instrumentally.[20] This letter is, unlike the Cress letter, a mainly appreciative note on her mediumship (“I see you as this kind of poet, who lets energy flow through her, while you do your best to manifest the patterned energies you sense” [Iovis I, 297]), but it pulls at her, as do all the letters — political, cracking up, sympathetic.

The ethnographic urge to take the measure of a specific culture is one of Williams’ “contributions” to Waldman’s poem. Indeed, Waldman’s themes of the waste of possibility and the pollution of democracy by profiteering, the creation of waste from abundance, contemporary ecological destruction are close to Paterson; so too her use of inserted letters to offer a sense of a community sounding, and filiations to other people. The writer of Paterson emphatically proposes a male gendered and sexed subject position for the speaker of the poem. (Pound does too, but Williams is more overt because less universalizing.) But of course neither the Cantos nor Paterson revises maleness and its cultural authority. The male subjectivity of these poems and of Olson’s is counterpoised — consciously and with lacerating fervor — by Waldman’s parallel poem positing a female/ androgynous subjectivity speaking the poem Iovis. Waldman has stood corporeally against (and for) these magisterial works of modernism — continuing them and criticizing them in one ambitious gesture.


Notes

[1] “Women’s mobility is an important means through which the reconfigurations of the modern female subject are textually represented: modern women may ‘move dangerously,’ but their journeys situate women at the heart of modernity and remind us that, as [Ernst] Bloch wrote, ‘one has one’s time according to where one stands corporeally.’” This is cited from an article by Wendy Parkins, whose interest in women defining modernity has been influenced by Rita Felski. Parkins (“Moving Dangerously: Mobility and the Modern Woman, Tulsa Studies 20.1 [Spring 2001]: 77-92) herself cites Ernst Bloch, “Nonsynchronism and the Obligation to Its Dialects (1932),” New German Critique 11 (1977): 22.

[2] Anne Waldman, “Notes for a Public Forum,” 100 Days 30 April 2001, Barque Press, 2001: 133. Refers to the first 100 days of the Bush appointed-presidency.

[3] Charles Olson, in Catherine Seelye, ed. Charles Olson and Ezra Pound: An Encounter at St. Elizabeths. New York: Paragon House, 1975: 17. Olson means this as apart from “the vomit of his conclusions” (18).

[4] I am assimilating the terms merriness and chiaroscuro from Rosi Braidotti, Nomadic Subjects: Embodiment and Sexual Difference in Contemporary Feminist Theory, New York: Columbia University Press, 1994: 167.

[5] And another thing going on right now: over the past 25-35 years, a tremendous input in women, of a variety of opinions, writing very long poems. Here is a partial list: Diane DiPrima, Loba; Diane Wakoski, Greed; Bernadette Mayer, Midwinter Day; Sharon Doubiago, Hard Country; Susan Howe, The Liberties; Judy Grahn, A Woman Is Talking to Death; Beverly Dahlen, A Reading; Susan Griffin, Women and Nature: The Roaring Inside Her; Alice Notley, The Descent of Alette; Lyn Hejinian, My Life (and Oxota); Anne Waldman, Iovis; Harryette Mullen, Muse and Drudge; Rochelle Owens, Luca: Discourse on Life and Death; Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Drafts.

[6] There is no doubt these works are linked. Notley’s thinking on epic, her narrative strategies within the mythopoetic, her desire for a world-transformative analysis of patriarchy links and interwines with Waldman’s thinking on epic, her encyclopedic strategies for the mythopoetic, her analysis of patriarchy. Notley also produced a subtle, apt, discerning, empathetic study of Iovis in Chicago Review. There is a further link, a deep curiosity of literary history. Frances Boldereff, by the force of her enthusiasm and knowledge, made Charles Olson look at Sumerian materials from Samuel Noah Kramer, the great archeologist and historian. Some of that material involved Inanna, the mother goddess epic, one of the great poems of world literature with a female quester. Under the influence of feminist desire and curiosity, about thirty-five years later, a stunning retelling of Inanna was published (in 1983) by Diane Wolkstein, based on Kramer’s scholarship. This was rather fervently read; indeed, this epic of female quest was highly influential. Of these long poems, it influenced Grahn, Notley, and Waldman.

[7] Waldman’s words; “‘I Is Another’: Dissipative Structures,” in Fast Speaking Woman: Chants and Essays: 134; also in Vow to Poetry.

[8] Judith Halberstam, Female Masculinity. Durham: Duke University Press, 1998; Michael Davidson, Guys Like Us: Citing Masculinity in Cold War Poetics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004.

[9] DuPlessis and Snitow, The Feminist Memoir Project: Voices from Women’s Liberation. New York: Three Rivers Press (Random House), 1998: 20.

[10] “Abortion,” written for an [undated] abortion rights rally in Boulder, Colorado, in Kill or Cure. New York: Penguin, 1994: 114-115.

[11] One can point, now, to a strong set of collected essays by poets, critical books (all or parts) and special issues working on the reception of women “experimental” writers of all kinds, books including Kathleen Fraser, Translating the Unspeakable: Poetry and the Innovative Necessity. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2000; Lyn Hejinian, The Language of Inquiry. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000; Joan Retallack, The Poethical Wager. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003; Rachel Blau DuPlessis, The Pink Guitar: Writing as Feminist Practice. New York: Routledge, 1990 and the forthcoming Blue Studios: Poetry and Its Cultural Work; Lynn Keller, Forms of Expansion: Recent Long Poems by Women. University of Chicago Press, 1997; Ann Vickery, Leaving Lines of Gender: A Feminist Genealogy of Language Writing. Wesleyan/New England, 2000; Linda A. Kinnahan, Lyric Interventions: Feminism, Experimental Poetry, and Contemporary Discourse. University of Iowa Press, 2004; Elisabeth A. Frost, The Feminist Avant-Garde in American Poetry. University of Iowa Press, 2003; Laura Hinton and Cynthia Hogue, eds., We Who Love to Be Astonished: Experimental Women’s Writing and Performance Poetics. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2002; Steve Evans, ed. differences 12.2 (Summer 2001), special issue: After Patriarchal Poetry: Feminism and the Contemporary Avant-Garde; Patricia Dienstfrey and Brenda Hillman, eds., The Grand Permission: New Writings on Poetics and Motherhood. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2003.

[12] Lee Christopher, “Interview with Anne Waldman.” AWP Chronicle 28.1 (December 1995): 1.

[13] See DuPlessis, H.D.: The Career of that Struggle, 1986. H.D.’s “epic” clearly had an impact on Waldman’s conception of Iovis. Along with the encyclopedaism (alluding to Pound, Williams and Olson), Waldman has made several key allusions to H.D.’s Helen in Egypt. Stylistically the poems are exceedingly different — even opposite, as H.D.’s is a centered, dreamlike but narrative-meditative reflection on one central myth of Western culture: the fault of Helen of Troy in triggering one of the key culturally and politically formative wars in our tradition. H.D.’s poem is centered, regular and, while spiritual, non-vatic. But Waldman learned from and alluded to several specific elements of H.D.’s poem. One is in the general reflection on women in a mythologically charged site. Another is the creation of a quester speaker who is a thamaturge, responsible for rites of naming and envisioning. Another is a specific rhetorical strategy that is very clarifying: of having a headnote, a box of italicized information, that explains the work of the canto to come, doubling its argument in allusive prose and then in poetry.

[14] Myra Jehlen, “Gender,” in Frank Lentricchia and Thomas McLaughlin, eds., Critical Terms for Literary Study. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995: 263-273. Citation on 265.

[15] My analysis in Writing Beyond the Ending, that in kunstlerromans, female heroes often complete the incompleted work of thwarted parents seems germane here.

[16] About the operatic, one may link this, pertinently, to the computer. Waldman feels with Iovis the impact of the computer; she says “it is like a theater, a magic movie screen. You have all of these little players to move around [referring to sections of poems]. It is like an opera” (Waldman, AWP Chronicle interview, 4).

[17] Given the breadth of materials and of years over which such a poem is composed, one might find some of its genres are conflictual (narrative and notes; sequence and collage; sestina and letter). The absorption and transcending of conflicts in this poem’s space would be this poem’s method. A writer may throw out a variety of analogies for the work of encyclopedic form, analogies that are always right, of course, but always incomplete. Despite the fiercely febrile performativeness of the work, Waldman has also called it a temple (“Go Between Between”) meaning a plurality of nooks and crannies, a “catholic” space in which the sacred dwells in every spot — and in which worship and exorcism can occur. There are other analogies besides shrine or temple. In a lecture in 1996, she calls Iovis a totem pole. This last appealing in its frank phallicism — and in its quasi-Jungian cast of poised characters stacked like masks on the pole. Both these are very spatialized analogies and at interplay with the performative, aria/cantata sense of a poem cut into time for performance.

[18] A little touch of Marjorie Perloff in her Futurist book, but I am mainly drawing on Janet Lyon, Manifestoes: Provocations of the Modern, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1999: 16.

[19] People sometimes call these poems epics. This is the subject of a very important comment made by Alice Notley on the matter of Iovis, that it does have epic themes (love and war). Notley makes two propositions. She says that it is conventional to call Olson’s, Pound’s and Williams’ work Epic (as a metaphor), and therefore Waldman must be accorded the same rights, as she emphatically works in this tradition. But Notley suggests (and I have long agreed) that a strict definition of the term epic would exclude these modern long poems, though not the work of H.D.: the definition of Notley’s is that it is a narrative that does cultural service. By the way, this implicitly makes The Descent of Alette an epic moment — that is using the “descent to the underworld” part of epics—the nekuia — as the whole story.

[20]

I use words as my table, as a kind of shrine
I sweep over the care of the words
They take care of themselves
I sweep them under my demand             (Iovis I, 119)


Scope is here in conflict with being through-composed. This is the challenge, par excellence, for the writer of the long poem.


Works Cited

Bloch, Ernst. “Nonsynchronism and the Obligation to Its Dialects (1932),” New German Critique 11 (1977): 22-38.

Braidotti, Rosi. Nomadic Subjects: Embodiment and Sexual Difference in Contemporary Feminist Theory, New York: Columbia University Press, 1994.

Cixous, Hélène. “The Laugh of the Medusa,” trans. Keith Cohen and Paula Cohen. New French Feminisms, in Elaine Marks and Isabelle de Courtivron, eds. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1980: 245-264.

Davidson, Michael. Guys Like Us: Citing Masculinity in Cold War Poetics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004.

Dienstfrey, Patricia and Brenda Hillman, eds. The Grand Permission: New Writings on Poetics and Motherhood. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2003.

DuPlessis, Rachel Blau. H.D.: The Career of that Struggle. Bloomington: University of Indiana Press, 1986.

———. The Pink Guitar: Writing as Feminist Practice. New York: Routledge, 1990.

———. Writing Beyond the Ending: Narrative Strategies of Twentieth-Century Women Writers. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1985.

DuPlessis, Rachel Blau and Ann Snitow. The Feminist Memoir Project: Voices from Women’s Liberation. New York: Three Rivers Press (Random House), 1998.

Eshleman, Clayton. Companion Spider: Essays. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2001.

Halberstam, Judith. Female Masculinity. Durham: Duke University Press, 1998.

Evans, Steve. “Introductory Note: After Patriarchal Poetry: Feminism and the Contemporary Avant-Garde.” differences 12.2 (Summer 2001): i-v.

Fraser, Kathleen. Translating the Unspeakable: Poetry and the Innovative Necessity. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2000.

Friedman, Susan Stanford. “Craving Stories: Narrative and Lyric in Contemporary Theory and Women’s Long Poems.” In Feminist Measures: Soundings in Poetry and Theory, eds. Lynn Keller and Cristanne Miller. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1994: 15-42.

Friedman. “Gender and Genre Anxiety: Elizabeth Barrett Browning and H.D. as Epic Poets.” Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature 5.2 (Fall 1986): 203-28.

Friedman. “When a ‘Long’ Poem Is a ‘Big’ Poem: Self Authorizing Strategies in Women’s Twentieth-Century ‘Long Poems.’” LIT 2 (1990): 9-25.

Frost, Elisabeth A. The Feminist Avant-Garde in American Poetry. University of Iowa Press, 2003.

Grossman, Allen. “Summa Lyrica: A Primer of the Commonplaces in Speculative Poetics.” The Sighted Singer: Two Works on Poetry for Readers and Writers. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992.

Hejinian Lyn. The Language of Inquiry. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000.

Hinton, Laura and Cynthia Hogue, eds. We Who Love to Be Astonished: Experimental Women’s Writing and Performance Poetics. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2002.

Jehlen, Myra. “Gender,” in Frank Lentricchia and Thomas McLaughlin, eds. Critical Terms for Literary Study. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995: 263-273.

Kamboureli, Smaro. On the Edge of Genre: The Contemporary Canadian Long Poem. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1991.

Kinnahan, Linda A. Lyric Interventions: Feminism, Experimental Poetry, and Contemporary Discourse. University of Iowa Press, 2004.

Keller, Lynn. Forms of Expansion: Recent Long Poems by Women. University of Chicago Press, 1997.

Keller. “The Twentieth-Century Long Poem,” in Jay Parini, ed. The Columbia History of American Poetry. New York: Columbia University Press, 1993: 534-563.

Keller, Lynn and Cristanne Miller, eds. Feminist Measures: Soundings in Poetry and Theory. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1994.

Lyon, Janet. Manifestoes: Provocations of the Modern, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1999.

Notley, Alice. The Descent of Alette. New York: Penguin Books, 1996.

Notley. Homer’s Art, Canton, New York: Glover Publishing, 1990.

Notley. “Epic and Women Poets.” In Disembodied Poetics: Annals of the Jack Kerouac School, eds. Anne Waldman and Andrew Schelling. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1994: 103-109.

Notley. “Iovis Omnia Plena.” Chicago Review 44 (1998): 117-129.

Olson, Charles. Charles Olson and Ezra Pound: An Encounter at St. Elizabeths, ed. Catherine Seelye. New York: Paragon House, 1975.

Parkins, Wendy. “Moving Dangerously: Mobility and the Modern Woman, Tulsa Studies 20.1 (Spring 2001): 77-92.

Perloff, Marjorie. The Futurist Moment: Avant-Garde, Avant Guerre, and the Language of Rupture. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1986.

Pound. Ezra. The Cantos. New York: New Directions, 1971.

Retallack, Joan. The Poethical Wager. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003.

Riley, Denise. “Am I That Name?”: Feminism and the Category of “Women” in History. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1988.

Waldman, Anne. “Notes for a Public Forum,” 100 Days 30 April 2001, Barque Press, 2001.

———. Iovis I. Minneapolis: Coffee House Press, 1993.

———. Iovis, Book II. Minneapolis: Coffee House Press, 1997.

———. “Feminafesto.” From Kill or Cure. New York: Penguin Books, 1994: 142-146.

———. “Rocky Flats: Warring God Charnel Ground.” Disembodied Poetics: Annals of the Jack Kerouac School, eds. Anne Waldman and Andrew Schelling. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1994: 482-490.

———. “‘I Is Another’: Dissipative Structures.” In Fast Speaking Woman: Chants and Essays. San Francisco: City Lights Books, 1996.

———. Kill or Cure. New York: Penguin Books, 1994.

Waldman, Anne and Lee Christopher. “An Interview with Anne Waldman.” AWP Chronicle 28.1 (December 1995): 1-6.

Waldman, Anne and Ed Foster. “An Interview with Anne Waldman,” Talisman 13 (Fall 1994/ Winter 1995): 62-78.

Wolkestein, Diane and Samuel Noah Kramer. Inanna: Queen of Heaven and Earth. Her Stories and Hymns from Sumer. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1983.

Vickery, Ann. Leaving Lines of Gender: A Feminist Genealogy of Language Writing. Wesleyan/ New England Press, 2000.

Virgil. The Eclogues of Virgil, trans. David Ferry. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1999.

Williams, William Carlos. Paterson (1946-1951; 1958). New York: New Directions, 1992.



Rachel Blau DuPlessis

Rachel Blau DuPlessis
Photo by Melody Holmes

Rachel Blau DuPlessis is the author of Drafts 1-38, Toll (Wesleyan UP, 2001) and DRAFTS 39-57, Pledge, with Draft unnumbered: Précis (Salt Publishing, 2004). One of her Drafts appeared in The Best Poems of America 2004 (Scribner). A new book of essays, Blue Studios: Poetry and Its Cultural Work is forthcoming from Alabama. DuPlessis teaches English and Creative Writing at Temple University.



April 2005  |  Jacket 27  Contents  |  Homepage  |  Catalog  |  Search  |
about Jacket | style guide | bookstores | literary links | 400+ book reviews |