Thursday, March 26, 2009

It's Probably not for Sale, but

some folks are not "buying the Gurlesque," over at the fine Lemon Hound blog. Commence somewhat circuitous line of inquiry: This refutation seems to revolve around the idea that the subject position girl (or any grotesque performance thereof) cannot be occupied without demeaning or infantilizing oneself, and thus threatens, or perhaps offends, the feminist movement(s). Have I got that right?

Either way, I should point out that poets who work with the Gurlesque aesthetic do not all bank on girlhood or girl speakers. But yes plenty do, and plenty question whether or not the subject position woman/women ever escapes infantilizing cultural constructions (some day I'll draw the connection to "The Myth of the Vaginal Orgasm"). Perhaps this is where Joyelle McSweeney's comment about Gurlesque as "the rejection of empowerment" becomes pertinent. (Aside: I don't think anyone's ever suggested Joyelle herself writes Gurlesque poems.) (Aside: And I don't claim to speak for other Gurlesque poets--just about the aesthetic and the poets who employ its various tactics. 'Cause it's not a school or a movement--we do not, whoever we are, hang out and plan new lip-glossed-cattle-suited-grave-stinking-rat-fetus-femme-factories.)

Notably, a lot of these critiques suggest that Gurlesque won't, as Lemon Hound puts it, "bring us forward." I assume "us" is women or feminists and "forward" is closer to gender equality? I'm tempted to say that such critique relies on a reductive reading of the aesthetic and a dangerous notion about poetry's relationship to edification.

Another problem--I think critiques/critics need to distinguish between the various strains of theorizing Lara & Arielle do (which won't be available in full until the anthology's out), the burgeoning ideas Arielle's advanced up until this point, and the actual poems/poets identified as Gurlesque. When a person claims to be "bored" or "offended" by the Gurlesque, I'm never sure to whom or what she's referring. Heh heh, and some of the poets identified as Gurlesque have written poems explicitly intended to bore and offend, so then a positive review?

It's further strange to me when the critiques are made by those who provoke with the woman/dog or woman/monster parallel, who interrogate desire and violence, who identify as third-wave or po-mo-feminist, animate grotesque bodies, load their poems with small cuddly animals, and so on. What am I missing?

I'd also love to see some actual fem theory or feminist thinkers referenced if the value of Gurlesque as a feminist practice, a form of feminist poetics is going to be called into question...I've had the good fortune to bring Arielle & Lara to Wyoming, to bring the aesthetic in front of women's studies scholars, and it's met with excitement and interest. And perhaps some polite disinterest, of which I remain stubbornly unaware, but so far no one's suggested it's an offense to feminism, or likely to wreck the joint...and actually, the dissent among feminist poets is a point of interest. Which could yet use articulation, eh? So if anyone would like to spin it out further here or via e-mail or in a sequined placenta-dome, I'm game. And also quite interested in what Gurlesque's critics would view as positive or "forward" moving feminist poetics.

[Update: Lara dropped a note over at Lemon Hound, saying: "the Gurlesque is an entirely descriptive project, not proscriptive. In other words, Arielle and I are describing a set of aesthetic strategies/tendencies being engaged by a fairly disparate set of poets. We are not spearheading a movement or branding a product. I think the actual publication of the anthology (Spring 2010) will greatly clarify this." I think I've failed to articulate the descriptive/proscriptive difference as well as I should here, and am still considering what it might mean that these "tendencies" are being identified in such a broad range of so loosely, even un-connected poets...]


Friday, March 20, 2009

Noemi's Full-length Titles: Sing, Mongrel and Guardians of the Secret

The first full-length titles are out from Noemi Press (which will publish my Iatrogenic: Their Testimonies later this year, thrills!). I can't wait to get my own, but if you'd like a preview you can check out this excerpt of Sing, Mongrel, or Claire Hero's work at La Petite Zine!

There's also another translation of Lila Zemborain's work. For those of you who haven't gotten hands on copy of Mauve Sea-Orchids, and so aren't yet jonesing for more, you can check out an excerpt from the new title here.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Long Goodbye, La Petite Zine

We're not sure what will happen with La Petite Zine now that Jeff & I are moving on (keep you posted!), but this recent review of The Best Online Literary Magazines in Every Writer's Resource makes us feel pretty good about the past seven years:

4. La Petite Zine

We have said before that we do not like to see magazines judge writers by their bios, but looking at La Petite Zine for more than 2 minutes will tell you that the best of the best are submitting work to this online journal. Writers here publish with Tin House, Swink, American Letters and Commentary, and on and on. If you throw a stone on this site you hit a writer who has been published in an outstanding literary magazine. If this was all they do, it might honestly disqualify them from this list, but it isn’t. You can find many writers on the site who are publishing for the first time. The quality of work of both well-known and unknown writers is outstanding. Not enough can be said about the impact of a magazine like this on the status of online publications. This is why it has made it into the top 5.

The journal doesn’t boast its status, so it is easily overlooked. Their “about us” page consists of a picture of a sign that says “throw nothing into the sea,” and nothing more. The editors are a little flippant in revealing info about the journal, but they don’t have to. The work speaks for itself. Est. 1999 appeared in BAP in 2004.


Monday, March 16, 2009

Xantippe has Zorba's Number

The first online issue of Kristen Hanlon's Xantippe is up, and Jesse Nissim contributed a kind and uncanny review of My Zorba. The issue also features reviews of Anne Boyer, Kim Hyesoon, and other treasures.


Sunday, March 15, 2009

La Petite Zine, We Had a Good Run!

We've finally launched issue #22 of La Petite Zine, and it's a stunner! After seven years and ten issues, Jeff and I have decided to step down as editors. Because LPZ is published by Web Del Sol, it'll go on and on and on and on... Our affectionate thanks to all y'all!