Pulverising Portraits: Lynn Emanuel’s Poetry of Becoming

  • Elias, Camelia (Projektdeltager)



    My book project deals with contemporary American Literature, more specifically contemporary poetry. One of the crucial figures in American Poetry today is the poet Lynn Emanuel. Emanuel?s books have won various prizes such as The National Poetry Series Award, and her poems have been featured in The Pushcart Prize Anthology and Best American Poetry in 1994, 1995, and 1998. Yet, in spite of the growing interest in her work, there is no book length study of her poetry. My aim is to fill this gap by proposing to write a book that falls into three parts. In the first part I propose to situate Lynn Emanuel?s work within the literary genre called prose poetry. There has been a growing critical interest in this genre, but despite the fact that in 2003 a collection of prose poems appeared with an introduction by David Lehman defining the field, there are only a couple of book length studies of the genre, and none focussing on a single author writing prose poems.The second part frames Emanuel differently by looking at her work against the background of modernist writing and art with special attention to her father, a renowned painter and former model and pupil of Matisse, Akiba Emanuel, and Gertrude Stein, who can be seen as a literary foremother for Emanuel. Emanuel?s personal and writerly identity emerges partly as a development of the modernist tradition and its penchant for high art, and partly as an irreverent and humorous break with that tradition. The third part will consist of readings of her three collections of poems: (1984), (1992) and (1999). Here the focus will be on the notion of potentiality and inspiration. The poems of Lynn Emanuel will be shown to have a form close to the aphorism and the aphorism?s function in philosophical communication, or more specifically, they express a philosophy of communicating wit. Her books, while engaging with departures from the modernist preoccupation with the relationship of the poet?s language to the observable world, retain an interest in narratives of inspiration. In other words, while the books do not explore the language-world relationship through the form of traditional poems, they do rely on the poet communicating with the reader through the form of the prose poem. Furthermore, the prose poem for Emanuel lends itself to explorations of the proximity of language to the world. This proximity is investigated through various representations of the notion of inspiration. Here, Emanuel performs a double step: away from the modernist subjective crisis and transformations, yet returning or looking back unto what delimits the modernist limit-experience. Some of the wider implications of this research project relate to fact that both lay people and academics are becoming more and more attracted to creative writing. Creative writing programs at universities are expanding as there is an increasing interest in the ?politics of narrative? and using texts as identity tools. The prose poem as a quasi-aphoristic genre lends itself particularly to statements about the general human condition, and is therefore the ideal vehicle for both the poet?s project of self-expression, and for the audience?s desire to mirror its identities in the words of the poet. The Dig Hotel Fiesta Then Suddenly? Insofar as not just Lynn Emanuel but other prose poem writers as well gather their inspiration from their close relationship with their audiences ? they often do readings which are followed by comments from the audience that serve as grounds for revisions in subsequent poems ? the prose poem signals a shift in the relationship between audience and poet. Unlike the modernists, who were convinced that only some people were educated well enough and thus capable of understanding high art, poets such as Lynn Emanuel believe that everybody in an audience has the potential to make valid comments which ultimately say something about certain cultural manifestations in society. Poets like her thus are at the foreground of a benevolent postmodern revaluation of poetry as a voice mediating between artist and audience, enabling both parties to grow from the exchange.
    Effektiv start/slut dato01/12/200401/12/2005