Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Certain Slant of Light

I am captivated by this book, "The Ms of My Kin"(2009) by Janet Holmes. On these chilly days, I stroll past it on the shelves of Small Press Distribution and picture myself cocooned inside a blanket and reading its pages, cover to cover. Part of this intrigue I must owe to my ongoing obsession with another text that takes on Emily Dickinson.

Susan Howe's radiant "My Emily Dickinson" (1985) is one of the leading texts in my personal canon of inspiration. It's the wild combination of poetry and poetics, translation and explanation, and admiration and reclamation that places this work on a pedestal. Simply put and unprecedented, Howe unveils Dickinson's brilliance and timeless prevalence through close readings of poems. She explores the solitary poems themselves, but she also looks at them as coming after and in relation to other texts. She calls to light the influence such works (from such influential figures as Emily Brontë, William Shakespeare and John Keats, to name a few) had on Emily. Part of Howe's approach stems from literary criticism and it is from this angle, from this limb, that I learned to reach inside myself and embrace the critic within. Note to self: read poetry and enjoy, read poetry and question, falter, stumble, read poetry and write!

As for Holmes' book, I am eager to experience how she tackles Dickinson's poems. From what I've learned from my few times flipping through, I know that she uses erasure (see 1st image above) to further ignite and free Dickinson's original text. I wonder how she feels about Howe's groundbreaking book, almost 25 years old now. I also wonder what it was like for her, as a writer, to re-imagine Dickinson. Once I've read, will report back (and hopefully soon).

1 comment:

  1. wow sis, sounds amazing. would love to my emily dickinson. maybe birthday gift for big sis, no?