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American Hybrid Poetics

American Hybrid Poetics: Gender, Mass Culture, and Form

Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 188
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  • Book Info
    American Hybrid Poetics
    Book Description:

    American Hybrid Poeticsexplores the ways in which hybrid poetics-a playful mixing of disparate formal and aesthetic strategies-have been the driving force in the work of a historically and culturally diverse group of women poets who are part of a robust tradition in contesting the dominant cultural order. Amy Moorman Robbins examines the ways in which five poets-Gertrude Stein, Laura Mullen, Alice Notley, Harryette Mullen, and Claudia Rankine-use hybridity as an implicitly political strategy to interrupt mainstream American language, literary genres, and visual culture, and expose the ways in which mass culture in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries has had a powerfully standardizing impact on the collective American imagination. By forcing encounters between incompatible traditions-consumer culture with the avant-garde, low culture forms with experimental poetics, prose poetry with linguistic subversiveness-these poets bring together radically competing ideologies and highlight their implications for lived experience. Robbins argues that it is precisely because these poets have mixed forms that their work has gone largely unnoticed by leading members and critics in experimental poetry circles.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-6466-1
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-19)

    This book is an analysis of the concept of hybrid poetics as it circulates in the current critical discourse surrounding contemporary American poetry and as it informs innovative work by several American women poets in particular. I argue that, far from being new, hybrid aesthetics—most frequently defined as the playful mixing of disparate formal and aesthetic strategies—have a firm foundation and a distinct history in the work of radical women poets from throughout the past century, poets who have created such mixings as part of a resistance to being fixed in any particular school or camp, sometimes (as...

  5. 1 Gertrude Stein’s Blood on the Dining-Room Floor: Hybrid Poetics in Modernist/Mass Culture
    (pp. 20-43)

    In “Reflection on the Atomic Bomb,” one of Gertrude Stein’s last writings, Stein begins as follows:

    They asked me what I thought of the atomic bomb. I said I had not been able to take any interest in it.

    I like to read detective and mystery stories, I never get enough of them but whenever one of them is or was about death rays and atomic bombs I never could read them.¹

    Characteristically mixing matters of high importance with the mundane details of daily living, Stein here travels the considerable distance between human mass destruction and the stuff of popular...

  6. 2 Laura Mullen’s Murmur: Crime Fiction, Cruel Optimism, and a Hybrid Poetics of Affect
    (pp. 44-70)

    If Stein’s bloodlessBlood on the Dining-Room Floorturns on the subversive potential but also the palpable absence of lesbian sexuality within patriarchal/capitalist systems of familial and economic control, Laura Mullen’s hybrid novel/poemMurmur(Futurepoem 2007), which nods frequently to Stein—perhaps most provocatively with her inclusion of Stein’s comment “There is no such thing as being good to your wife.”¹—floridly displays multiple images of the mutilated female body as evidence of the lasting impact of patriarchal values in a commodity culture. Even as both formally transgressive texts work against the scripted conventions of the traditional detective story with...

  7. 3 Alice Notley’s Disobedience: The Postmodern Subject, Paranoia, and a New Poetics of Noir
    (pp. 71-99)

    Perhaps because of the many formal, generic, and thematic crossings within Alice Notley’s large and ever-growing oeuvre, attempts to place her work within any single community of contemporary experimental writing necessarily fail at the same time that such failure precisely identifies her work as among the most distinctively hybrid poetics of our current moment. At times Notley has been identified through her husband, Ted Berrigan, with the so-called Second Generation New York School, a later twentieth-century movement both bohemian and urbane that generated a dynamic, spontaneous, and speakerly poetics. Notley and her contemporaries in the New York School were extending...

  8. 4 Harryette Mullen’s Poetics in Prose: A Return to the Modernist Hybrid
    (pp. 100-123)

    In this chapter I examine the ways in which Harryette Mullen’s prose poetry in two of her collections—S*PeRM**K*T(1992) andSleeping with the Dictionary(2002)—foregrounds and frustrates white desire for consumption of the black body, a desire that runs deep in American literature and history and that has played out in a multitude of ways—aesthetic and material—since well before the dawn of modern poetry. Taking recourse to Aldon Lynn Nielsen’s critical work on African American poetry and his insightful analysis of the trope of cannibalism as it has long functioned in public and literary discourse to...

  9. 5 Claudia Rankine’s Don’t Let Me Be Lonely: A Lyrical Long Poem in a Post-Language Age
    (pp. 124-150)

    Claudia Rankine’sDon’t Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyricis a thoroughly revolutionary twenty-first-century hybrid work that expands the limits of the long poem form in order to investigate the status of the politically situated, socially mediated human subject in contemporary American culture. Rankine’s poem merges the epiphanic lyric, visual media, journalistic/academic writing in the form of prolific endnotes, and the cultural-critical essay in a formally complex critique of subject production and regulation at various sites in our current historical moment, including sites of official culture, media culture, and literary culture. Thematically,Don’t Let Me Be Lonelyis at...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 151-164)
  11. Index
    (pp. 165-172)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 173-173)