October is Violence against Women Awareness month. This October we bring together four poets whose writing appears in the anthology Women Writing Resistance: Poets Resist Gender Violence (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2013), along with the book’s editor, to discuss navigating truth and fact, the historical record, and the influence of the outside world on poetry. Women Write Resistance views poetry as a transformative art. By deploying techniques to challenge narratives about violence against women and making alternatives to that violence visible, poetry of resistance distinguishes itself by a persuasive rhetoric that asks readers to act. Leslie Adrienne Miller, Jennifer Perrine, Sara Henning, Sarah A. Chavez, and Laura Madeline Wiseman explore poetry of resistance in this roundtable discussion. These poets were featured at this year’s Omaha Lit Fest.
How do you navigate fact when writing about the present and the past in your poetry and prose?
Leslie Adrienne Miller: Very few things qualify as fact for me. Those that do are generally concrete things. Once you add language, however, nothing qualifies as a stable fact because every word choice brings different tonal shadings. That said, I work on the magpie model; I look for the shiny bits and make a new nest of them. I’m attracted to things that appear to be fact, things that somebody (sometimes myself) once believed were facts, and the tension between those facts and the instability time has subjected them to. Continue reading →
Posted on Wed, Apr 11 2012 7:43 am by Chris Jones
Y is a natural outgrowth of The Resurrection Trade‘s extended meditation on the relationship between science and art focused very specifically through a series of medical images of pregnant women, but Y focuses on the child. Y extends the meditation on (or mediation of) science and art, but in this collection, the subject matter and research materials include a more eclectic mixture of sources from the sciences (biological and social) on the Y chromosome; the social and cognitive development of children’s language acquisition; the fabled “wild children” of Germany and France; the rift between theology and science (belief and “fact”) that Darwin’s theories introduce into Western thought (and subsequent disciplinary divisions); some materials on the history and training of boy sopranos (a science of its own that links male physical and spiritual development); as well as historical and contemporary materials on the “reading” of the human face. Uniting these interdisciplinary forays are more traditional poems addressing the moral and linguistic development of male children, the philosophical conflicts inherent in this task for the adults who must manage this development, and the parallel dilemma of the contemporary poet for whom traditional poetic strategies like narrative and extreme subjectivity are increasingly inadequate and/or in need of renovation. Taken altogether, the poems in Y attempt to find connections between and among these areas of study as they probe the elusive mind/body, nurture/nature dichotomies in human male development– which cannot, of course, be seen or understood because they are dynamic, unstable, but they can, through metaphor’s momentary magic be glimpsed, the only satisfaction we humans are likely to get in contemplating this complex of ideas. read more
Kelly Engebretson, University of St. Thomas Newsroom, Sept. 18, 2012
The English Department invites the public to a free reading celebrating the recent publications by two of its faculty members Friday, Sept. 21. Dr. Matthew Batt, author of Sugarhouse (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), his debut book, and Dr. Leslie Adrienne Miller, author of Y (Graywolf Press), her sixth poetry collection, will read from 7:30 to 9 p.m in the John R. Roach Center for the Liberal Arts auditorium (Room 126).
With a nonfiction writer and poet filling the space of an evening, the event promises to be eclectic and entertaining. Batt’s memoir chronicles his and his wife’s three-year saga renovating a former crack house in Salt Lake City. The pair, who had no prior construction experience, undertook the project amidst a series of personal turmoils that put their marriage to the test. In the end, they successfully transformed a house, and their relationship, for the better. The poems in Y, Miller says, ”aim to enlarge the kinds of questions we ask about childhood and its role in the broader human culture.” Former U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser called her work as a poet “delightfully eclectic, learned and wise.”
Both writers/professors took some time out of their busy schedules the first week of fall semester to answer a few questions about their perspectives on writing and reading. If you want to learn more about Sugarhouse and Y, you’ll have to hear it straight from the sources this Friday. read more