After reading a great essay on poets.org, I discovered a book called Bellocq's Ophelia written by Natasha Trethewey. It's a series of poems written asAfter reading a great essay on poets.org, I discovered a book called Bellocq's Ophelia written by Natasha Trethewey. It's a series of poems written as letters from a Storyville prostitute to her girlhood friend, now a schoolmarm in their rural hometown. Ophelia is black, but can pass. The letters reveal her path to the brothel and how she endures her time there. Trethewey meditates on "the gaze," those who wield it and those subject to it. At first, Ophelia is just a possession/thing to be looked at and be looked through. After her encounters with Bellocq, we see her reclaim her own gaze, her own "looking," and develop her skill of seeing through photography.
Trethewey creating not only a poem, but a biography, that was framed by a previous work of art is fascinating to me. I recently heard someone describe historians as people who want to know about the unnamed, unmentioned and overlooked characters in the history books. I think artists pursue these questions as well, but instead of collecting facts, they dig for visual evidence (discovered or constructed).
Reading her poems, you will gain insight on what existence is like for "the other." You will recognize or begin to glean what it is like to be viewed with an assigned identity, not necessarily your own. And, what it's like for "the other" to walk with the included when the ability to blend in puts them--the included--at ease. The anxiety of waiting for them to finally notice your difference, and watching the behaviour perceptibly shift. Or, the included stumble over their prejudice, and "the other" speaks up and makes them aware the target is in their presence....more
Hmmm...not what I expected. There are at least two great essays included in the selection, and a handful of good ones. But, it seemed like the same tyHmmm...not what I expected. There are at least two great essays included in the selection, and a handful of good ones. But, it seemed like the same type of woman in various cities with different jobs were writing the same story: I was a happy-go-lucky/out-of-control fuck up until I met the right man and gave birth to the most amazing baby in the world!
There was only one essay that presented a p.o.v. of a woman choosing not to have kids. And, only a few that didn't address motherhood at all or only casually mentioned a baby was present somewhere off page. So, I found the collection a bit disappointing. Not that the "mother of the most amazing baby in the world" stories didn't appeal to me, but they came in a bunch and the overwhelming impression was a deadening sameness. Haven't we heard this p.o.v before from men? "I was a happy-go-lucky/out-of-control fuck up until I met the right girl and she gave birth to the most amazing baby in the world!"
But, I did get introduced to some amazing writers and I'm going to check out their novels (Michelle Richmonds, Julianna Baggott, Samina Ali)....more
I just finished reading The Bloody Chamber, by Angela Carter. The book fortuitously came to my attention while I manned a marble counReview from blog:
I just finished reading The Bloody Chamber, by Angela Carter. The book fortuitously came to my attention while I manned a marble counter last Saturday. The cover's wailing maiden in a tower caught my eye. Perusing the description, I discerned that the author was reclaiming the female perspective in fairy tales. Instead of helpless and incognizant victims, her versions would be populated by cunning and compulsive wenches. Males would take their turn being the prize, the tool, or mere embellishment. The book itself was quite skinny, so I felt no guilt in placing it on my tippling stack of to-be-read's. Plus, one of the stories was the basis for a movie, The Company of Wolves. One of those great flickers to stumble on in the strange hours between sleep and waking.
At first, I thought I had picked up that weird genre of "British and extremely literate pornography." The opening story titillated me into a state of flustered agitation. For all my forthrightness, I have a wide streak of prudery that stiffens my back. [I don't approve of the brazen way pornography has been mainstreamed into American culture. While I don't care what people do in their homes, I really would like for them to keep it in their homes---don't casually broadcast your dirtiness on computer screens, on the subway, and, really, not even on the streets of Vegas.] Although the story stirred me up, I was compelled to reach for a dictionary and not my smelling salts.
All my boon companions know how I love to rattle off my five-dollar words, but I still needed to look up at least a dozen new ones. I don't know how I'll be able to insert "catafalque" into common chit-chat, but I will cram it in somehow. After that first story, La Carter toned down her language or I became a jaded sophisticate after 33 pages. What I had hoped for was delivered to me in lusciously wrapped packages. Her writing style is unusual--at least to me--and forces you to readjust your expectations with every story. Symbols and the languor of dreams dominate most of the stories with the delightful exception of "Puss In Boots." "Puss" displays that raucous humor of Chaucer and low-down Shakespeare. Earthy and full of farts.
I leave you with an excerpt I jotted down in one of my handy notebooks:
"This knowledge gave me a certain fearfulness still; but, I would say, not much...I was a young girl, a virgin, and therefore men denied me rationality just as they denied it to all those who were not exactly like themselves, in all their unreason."
page 63, The Bloody Chamber, "The Tiger's Bride," Angela Carter ...more