Two bad ass anthologies

Okay, I have a two recommends for poetry lovers this season. Feminaissance, ed. Christine Wertheim, Les Figues 2009
Edited by Christine Wertheim
From the press:

Identity is dead. The 21st-century subject is an unstable fiction with no identifiable features or group affiliations. He’s a man without inherent qualities, a post-human ideal. But those who have long been hailed as Other exist in a different relation to this ideal. Unlike those traditionally self-possessed |s, these Others may find themselves split between a yearning to be contemporary and unqualified, and longing for a continued allegiance to their qualitative, albeit constructed, group identity.

Bad ass. This is a beautiful, thought provoking anthology featuring some very cool women. Kris Craus on feminine ecriture “turn your small unhappiness, into something magnificent. A very do-it yourself epistemology.” Or quoting Ariana Reynes: “My brains would be useful if I didn’t force them to feel,” Juliana Spahr recounting gender troubles in her years at grad school in Buffalo, Vanessa Place being Vanessa Place.
These gals make me want to move to LA. 

Prismatic Publics
eds Heather Milne and Kate Eichhorn
Coach House 2009

From the press: 

Gathered in a single volume, these selections — some dating back to the early 1970s and others appearing in print for the first time — provide an opportunity to trace the diverse networks, influences, dialogues, dialectics and interventions that continue to make Canada’s innovative women writers a powerful force in avant-garde writing around the world

Prismatic Publics, a book that captures a dynamic strand of innovative women’s writing in Canada, writing that has expanded the boundaries of genre, challenged notions of sexuality, subjectivity, feminism, poetry, writing, and thinking.

The text is as inspiring as it is instructive. It represents more than two decades of extremely energetic writing that includes a selection of writing as well as an interview from each author. The book really is essential. It’s the first one that grounds this strand of writing and illustrates the formidable accumulations of ideas. There are the literary foremothers; Nicole Brossard, Daphne Marlatt and Gail Scott, and then the second wave, which to me includes Erin Moure, Lisa Robertson, M. NourbeSe Philip, and the third, Margaret Christakos, Karen Mac Cormack, Catriona Strang, Rita Wong, Dorothy Trujillo Lusk, and then the fourth, Susan Holbrook, Nathalie Stephens, Rachel Zolf and…very happy to be included here, myself. 

Like the Feminaissance anthology, Prismatic Publics captures a snapshot, not necessarily of a “group think” because while these poets are in conversation with each other, they aren’t necessarily in agreement, or even all on the same page. Which I find particularly exciting. One needs to come to terms with this strand of our writing in some way. You may not like it (fair enough), but after reading the anthology you’ll at least have a sense of what it is and why it’s happening here–and the fact that “here” has been going on at least as long as those strands represented in the recent Cage Match (one half of that cage match is aware of this strand and quite supportive of it…). 

In order for there to be this number of poets all speaking to and around each other as we see in this anthology, there has to be many readers and thinkers and writers making space for this conversation to happen. Those writers find their way into the interviews, and can be found in the fall issue of Open Letter, itself an accomplishment and a must-read as well. 

We used this text in my graduate workshop this fall and I have to say the reading responses it inspired were spectacular–it’s true I may have a particularly strong group of writers in my class, but after eight years of teaching one thing I have noticed is that certain writing is more generative than others. Both anthologies above fall into the generative category. 

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