Tuesday, March 27, 2012

AWP 2012 roundup! (Part 1)

The desk as a portal to the underworld.

I picked up some excellent books this spring (mostly at AWP).  I wanted to talk about Heather Christle’s What Is Amazing first, but I can’t seem to find it.  I know it’s around here someplace, but you know how someplace tends to wander.  I’ll find it, I’m sure. 

In the meanwhile, here’s an excellent book I was able to locate.  (Many more to follow, including Andrew Grace’s excellent SANCTA, also pictured above.) 

The essay-poem, or the hybrid of essay and poem, or maybe just “mixed genre” has always interested me, and so I was intrigued to see Srikanth Reddy’s new chapbook from Omnidawn, Readings In World Literature.  I was instantly taken with it.  It’s an explosive exploration/ meditation on death, the underworld, teaching, and family.  I can’t say enough how much I loved it.  I had that feeling at the end that I rarely get, that feeling of “No! Don’t say it’s over!”  So, then, a standing ovation from me. 


RWL 1100.  Introduction to the Underworld.  [Cross-listed with Comp Lit].  In this course, students will be ferried across the river of sorrow, subsist on a diet of clay, weigh their hearts against a feather on the infernal balance, and ascend a viewing pagoda in order to gaze upon their homelands until emptied of all emotion.  Texts will include the Egyptian Book of the Dead, the Tibetan Book of the Dead, the Mayan Book of the Dead, the Ethiopian Book of the Dead, and Muriel Rukeyser’s Book of the Dead.  The goals of the course are to acquaint students with the posthumous regimes which entrench the division of humankind in perpetuity, and to help them develop the communication skills that are crucial for success in today’s global marketplace. 

All readings in English.  Requirements include the death of the student, an oral presentation, and a 20-page final paper. 


It is always never a good time for a full medical report on Antigone.  She is continually displaying new symptoms, new costumes, new customs, new systems.  To begin with, there is the lost Antigone of Euripides.  All that remains of her is a few scraps of text quoted by Aristophanes in The Frogs.  Later comes Hölderlin’s Antigonä with her mouth like a floodlight.  Then Brecht’s, with her mouth like a floodlight whose bulb has burned out.  In Japan, Antigone after Antigone sprung up after the bomb.  A Turkish Antigone speaks out for exploited cobalt miners.  The Yoruban Tegonni makes masks herself.  All these Antigones, however, suffer from the same burial disorder.  They cannot tolerate the thought of the dead among the living.  Hence the corpse sprinkled with dust at such great expense.  Also, they cannot live among the dead.  Thus the noose in the cave. 


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