Wednesday, September 17, 2003

D.H. Lawrence has eaten my brain. I've written dozens of pages and thought about this for months and only today did I realize that the basic intuition I've been working on points in a blindingly obvious direction. Stein repeats the rose and so does Lawrence. Stein gets all the attention for repeating it and transforming its intensity, it possible planes of reference, in a single line. But Lawrence repeats the rose (in one case, a particular breed, the Gloire de Dijon) in the titles of five poems and achieves something very similar. Both of them, I argue, are trying to transform the relationship the poet normally has with the beloved of lyric, and they do this by turning the typical trope of lyric love, the rose, into something rich and strange, the better to realize their own strangeness as subjects. Or something like that. I've been working on this too long. And one week from Sunday I'll be reading an extract of this to a more or less international group of academics in some room in a hotel in Birmingham, U.K. Eek.

So many good comments over at the Possum Pouch on the Houlihan controversy. Catherine's response is one of my favorites; there's something touching about how she uses Houlihan's first name, a certain surprising intimacy that helps me pity her more than I'm angered by her closed little mind. I mean, to claim to love poetry and to then almost certainly shut yourself off from so much that is great in it. Like Bernadette Mayer for instance. To take a break from Lawrence and Stein I've been reading my copy of ABernadette Mayer Reader, which I picked up somewhere years ago and never actually read. Jeez but she's terrific (though it's true many of the poems don't help me forget Stein. I do think my students will be looking at a couple of her poems out of the Hoover Postmodern Poetry anthology, which I happen to think is really good. Next time I teach I may just make my students buy the whole thing.

Tonight's the night... at the Bookery.

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