Hong Chung, Renee Santo, Kisla Rami
AP Literature, Malden High School, MA
20 Feb. 2011
FULL LENGTH COLLECTIONS:
Lasky, Dorothea. Awe. Seattle: Wave Books, 2007. Print.
---. Black Life. Seattle: Wave Books, 2010. Print.
CHAPBOOKS & PAMPHLETS
Lasky, Dorothea. Alphabets & Portraits . Anchorite Press, 2004. Print.
---. Katalanché Press Chapbook Series: Cambridge: Katalanché Press, 2007. Print.
---. Poetry is Not a Project. Brooklyn: Ugly Duckling Presse, 2010. Print.
---. Tourmaline. Chicago: Transmission Press, 2008. Print.
---. The Hatmaker’s Wife. Chicago: Transmission Press, 2008. Print
“Dorothea Lasky.” Harvard Graduate School of Education. 5 Apr 2010. Web. 7 Jan 2011.
Dorothea “Dottie” Lasky, “the author of Awe, a collection of curiously memorable poems published by Wave Books in 2007,” (par. 1) went to the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) with a couple of years of educational work to fall back on. “After graduating from Washington University in her hometown of St. Louis,” (par. 1) Lasky completed an MFA in poetry at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. When she moved to “Boston in 2004, she taught English at the New England Institute of Art in Brookline...” (par. 1) Lasky also painted and drew at the Munroe Center for the Arts in Lexington, Massachusetts. A well-educated woman, Lasky’s experience in HGSE’s Arts in Education program was “eye-opening” (par. 2) for her. During her studies, Lasky “took courses in children’s literature, museum education, media arts, and other subjects,” (par. 2) as well as continuing to work on her poetry. Dorothea Lasky has now moved on to the University of Pennsylvania where she is working to get her Doctorate degree in education. Lasky is mostly interested in the “intersection between creativity and innovation” (par. 3). She is helping to develop policies that will promote, support and nurture these two ideas in schools across the country.
“I learned that there are people who truly care how the arts occur in our educational system” (par. 2).
“...I learned that there is a place for my own, deep concern for it” (par. 2)
“Reading the poems in Awe then reading them a second and third time to try and figure out what’s so interesting about these quirky love lyrics, daffy confessions, fractured epiphanies, and mock manifestos— you start to suspect that Dottie is one of those natural-born educators who are interested in the field because of their affinity for children; more specifically, for the possibility childhood affords of an unguarded, headlong plunge into the playful, rather than for a wish to turn children into responsible adults as soon as humanly possible.” (par. 4)
If I have to provide some background information on Dorothea Lasky’s schooling, I would include this source. While other biographies are discussing her published works, this source from the Harvard Graduate School of Education explains all of her accomplishments such as teaching English at the New England Institute of Art in Brookline. Since this article was produced by the Harvard Graduate School of Education, they have included her accomplishments there and beyond which is insightful for a biography paper.
“Project Zero.” Harvard Graduate School of Education. 2010. Web. 30 Jan 2011.
Project Zero is an educational research group at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education. Project Zero’s “mission is to understand and enhance learning, thinking, and creativity in the arts, as well as humanistic and scientific disciplines, at the individual and institutional levels” (par. 1). Project Zero was founded in 1967 by philosopher Nelson Goodman. He believed that arts learning should be studied as seriously as cognitive activites. Project Zero is currently building on this research “to help create communities of reflective, independent learners; to enhance deep understanding within and across disciplines; and to promote critical and creative thinking” (par. 2).
“They place the learner at the center of the educational process, respecting the different ways in which an individual learns at various stages of life, as well as differences among individuals in the ways they perceive the world and express their ideas. Many of these initiatives involve collaborators in schools, universities, museums, or other settings in the United States and other countries” (par. 3)
“Students- Teaching, Learning, and Curriculum.” Graduate School of Education: PennGSE. 10 Jan 2011.
Lasky’s “dissertation research is centered around ways in
which teachers can harness creativity in their students”.
“Her dissertation research centers around ways in which teachers can harness creativity in their students in order to aid their learning and school success” (par. 6).
“Her other research interests include education policy and school reform initiatives concerned with closing the achievement gap, arts education, informal learning, and issues surrounding reading, writing, and literacy” (par. 6).
“Prior to coming to Penn, she worked as an English teacher and did research in a variety of informal learning environments, including Harvard's Project Zero” (par. 6).
Although this is a very abrupt paragraph about Dorothea Lasky, I felt that it was crucial to understanding her as a poet and as a poet outside of her comfort zone (which would be writing not-so-comfortable and blunt poetry). When discussing Lasky’s biographical information, I could incorporate this part when talking about her teaching and her education. This brief paragraph allows us to get a different sort of perspective on her professional career compared to the personal poetry we’re used to. Having read Lasky’s poetry first-hand and reading this bit of information about her as a faculty member at an elite university, I can most definitely picture her teaching her students how to express themselves openly and creatively in their writing, disregarding the “traditions” or the “mechanics”. What I really appreciate about Lasky, is that she is able to hold a professional position but yet still keep her vivaciousness as a writer. I wonder if she lets her students read her books? I also wonder if she allows them to analyze her writing as opposed to any other poet out there?
INTERVIEWS AND READINGS:
Degnan, Luke. Interview with Dorothea Lasky.“Literature, Phoned–In Dorothea Lasky.” Bomblog. 5 Mar 2010. Web. 6 Jan 2011.
On this blog website, Luke Degnan interviews Dorothea Lasky. The blog is titled “Literature, Phoned–In Dorothea Lasky.” Degnan questions Lasky on her writing style and asks what shes tries to emulate. Lasky emulates hip hop. She is interested in its syntax and respects hip hop because of the ways it deals with pain and life in an enjoyable spontaneous way. Lasky likes hip hop because of the way it relates the speaker to the listener and the power that is put into it and that comes out of it. In the interview, Lasky mentions one of her favorite poets, Sylvia Plath. She is one of Lasky’s favorite poets because of the way she harnesses such power and puts it into the form of a poem. Lasky came to love Plath strictly in terms of poetry. Lasky didn’t really pay attention to Plath in terms of her being an American woman and the pressures she felt living in the 1950’s. Lasky feels as though Plath was succumbed to the role of the household wife and to what she felt as though she was able to do. Lasky’s experiences as a woman in today’s society makes her poetry differ from Sylvia Plath’s. Though she has had a large influence on Lasky’s poems, later female poets have given her the liberty to express more than she has. Lasky mentions Bernadette Mayer to Degnan as an example. Lasky claims that Mayer has given her the freedom that Plath hasn’t. She feels as if Plath has stuck to society’s limitations. Back to the topic of hip hop, Lasky describes it as a kind of music that is in people’s consciousness of pain, aggression and beauty. On the topic of hip hop, Degnan says that he remembers reading Lasky’s list of Desert Island Discs. On that list, Lasky said that she would want to have Notorious B.I.G.’s Ready to Die and how she would write a book comparing him to Catullus. It turns out, an extremely well-educated woman, Lasky majored in Latin in college. It turns out that Roman poets are a big influence on her in the same ways hip hop is. Both works interest Lasky because of the power they hold. Roman literature and poetry is powerful in a militaristic way, owning the reader and making the reader understand that the writer is the boss. As for her reason for comparing Notorious B.I.G. to Catullus, Lasky thinks that the ways in which Catullus deals with pain and power connects with the ways Notorious B.I.G. does, claiming he is one of the best rappers that has ever lived.
“There are various ways that hip hop can gesture towards that. Either by saying ‘I’m The Best’ in every way possible, but also being able to do something that the listener cannot by creating syntactical structures that are danceable or get stuck in the listener’s head. I think that the means by which hip hop achieves its power is something I’d like to emulate, and certainly think that the poems that I like, that are being written today, might emulate this power play whether they intend to or not” (par. 2).
“It’s a kind of music that is in the consciousness of people today—a consciousness of vast power differences, pain, aggression, and beauty that deals intimately with language”
“...being an American woman and the pressures that she felt, that she ultimately succumbed to in terms of her role with her household and what she was able to feel like she could do”
“If I had become a literature scholar, maybe a greater purpose of mine would have been to try to uncover her from all that biography that is sitting on top of her, just push it aside. If we did, we’d really be able to see her work more magnanimously than we do now.”
I like this article because I learned that Lasky, who on the outside does not look like a woman that would listen to Kanye West and Notorious B.I.G. is in fact one of their biggest fans. I would use this source in supplemental or poetics perhaps because it is just an extra piece of interesting information. According to Lasky, hip-hop and poetry are similar in that they both tell stories about heartbreak and other strong feelings. This is what Lasky wants to get across in her poetry. Knowing that Lasky and I listen to the same type of music will help me see the meaning of her poems more, even though they are so blunt. I feel as though I can connect with her on a personal level.
“Desert Island Disks: Dorothea Lasky.” Poetry Society. 4 Jan 2011.
If Dorothea Lasky was stranded on a desert island, these are the five CDs and albums that she would take with her. This allows Lasky’s readers to get to know her interests and where she gets her writing style from, or how she connects her poetry to music she listens to. The first CD she would take is Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk (1979). Lasky claims this is her favorite album of all time because it is about animals, love and the universe. On this album, Stevie Nicks and crew would bring the sorrow of being stranded on a desert island to the forefront and make her happy. Her next choice would be Kanye West’s 808s and Heartbreak (2008). Kanye West is one of her favorite rappers, even though she claims he sings more than raps. West’s sadness uplifts her, connects her to her poetry. Her third pick is Prince’s The Hits/ The B-Sides (1993). On this album, there are 56 songs, and Lasky likes every single one of them. 56 songs is approximately 4 hours of time to waste. That goes a long way when stranded on a desert island. The fourth CD that Lasky would want to have with her on a desert island is Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks (1975). This album was given to Lasky by someone before she even knew who he was. Since then, Lasky has been a Bob Dylan fanatic. After having Blood on the Tracks for a few years, Lasky finally saw Dylan in concert in Boston where they made eye contact. This album was from then on held close to her heart because of his eyes searing through her. The fifth and last album is Ready to Die (1994) by Notorious B.I.G. Lasky would bring this CD with her because she would write a book comparing Notorious B.I.G and Catullus. At the end of her list, Lasky points out that all of these albums were made by Geminis. She has a “thing” for Geminis especially music made by them because their words and sweet wisdom surround her.
“ I would spend many hours listening to my favorite songs on it, like the title track Tusk and Sara, a song about homecoming, which would be painfully ironic on the island. And of course, I'd spend at least 1 hour a day listening to Walk a Thin Line on repeat. Cause I have seen so many things that have made me wonder and yes, it is hard to tell. And yes, no one is listening and that's why I walk a thin line. And if all went well on the island, I might recreate the video for Tusk with an assembly of sea animals”
(Lasky par. 1).
“This CD is sad, yes, it's about heartache. I can imagine listening to it and crying at dusk on the island, as streams of purple light would fall on my broken body” (par. 2)
“In general, even his sadness uplifts me” (par. 2).
“ Alphabet Street is my favorite Prince song” (par. 3).
“...saw him play in small concert hall in Boston and we made eye contact. His eyes seared through me and if I took this CD on the island, I would think about his eyes searing through me while listening to all of these songs. My favorite song on this album is Shelter from the Storm. If I were able to make a straw hut on my island, I would play this song for my new home” (par. 4).
“Even if no one ever saw the book (cause if they could see the book, then wouldn't they help me get off the island?), it would be worth it to think about this comparison.” (par. 5).
I would use this article to show how Lasky relates to and appreciates other art forms. The music a person listens to often describes their character. Lasky is influenced by other poets such as Sylvia Plath and Bernadette Mayer, but she is also influenced by Kanye West, whose sadness uplifts her.
“Dorothea Lasky.” Moria: Poetry Journal. Web. 17 Jan 2011.
This is a brief biography about Dorothea Lasky. Lasky grew up in St. Louis, MO and also resided in Boston, MA. In the article, it states the various magazines and poetry journals in which Lasky’s work has appeared, such as Lungfull, Blue Mesa Review..etc. At the moment it states that Lasky is starting a literary journal called American Weddings in partnership with fellow poet Micheal Carr. More candidly the article states Lasky’s love for carbohydrates and the beautiful things in life.
In this question and answer Youtube video, viewers are introduced to a new persona of Dottie Lasky. Asked a bunch of different questions, for example, Lasky was asked who the historical figure in which she found a connection was Martin Luther King Jr. Lasky also reveals the most deplorable trait she finds in others is passitivity and in herself as well. Throughout the video there seemed to be an undertone of pessimistic sarcasm. It was surprising when Prose asked what Lasky could change in her life- and her answer was being a poet. She said it in such a matter of fact way- it was hard to differentiate between truth and fiction. The video is supplemental in which it strays away from her title as Dorothea Lasky: poet to Dottie Lasky: the obvious pacifist who wishes she never became a poet- but in a good way, of course.
“Dorothea Lasky, Living Room, Tiny Tour.” YouTube 5 Oct 2007. Web. 8 Jan 2010
In this seven minute YouTube video, Dorothea Lasky reads from her living room, “You ain’t guna get glory if that’s what you came here for,” a poem from her first published book Awe. This video gives three kinds of information about Dorothea Lasky. Lasky is introduced by a young man who gives the audience a quick overview about her education and publications. “Lasky was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1978” (0:30). Her first full length collection (0:37). is known as Awe. She is the author of three books (0:42): The Hatmaker’s Wife (2006), Art from Hangman (2005), and Alphabets in Portraits (2004). She is currently living in Philidelphia and studying education education at the University of Pennsylvania (1:00). She co-edits Katalanché Press poetry chapbook series with poet Michael Carr (1:08). Lasky is a graduate of the MFA program for Poets and Writers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and has been educated at Harvard University and Washington University (1:12). Her poetry has appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and Boston Review. Aside from her accomplishments, the viewer can see Lasky’s living room, hence the “tiny tour.” Though her living room is beige, which is a very dull color, Lasky has different kinds of artwork hanging on her walls which shows her artsy, creative nature. In this YouTube video, the viewer learns how Lasky reads her work. Lasky projects her voice in a monotone manner. Lasky reads with a lot of volume when reciting her poetry.
“Conceptual art is dead” (1:59).
“From a deep and sudden throat and the blueness of her dress is real” (2:33).
“And her flaming heart with stakes in it feels a real and sudden pain” (2:38).
“The mouth of the universe is screaming now.” (3:07).
This YouTube video I feel will be extremely helpful in the long run. It first provided me with a little bit of background information on Lasky such as what schools and programs she has attended, what she has published so far, and what she is currently working on. I was mostly able to witness how Dorothea Lasky reads/preforms her poems. She reads in such a monotone voice that is almost as blunt as her poetry. Lasky reads with a lot of volume and this will help me in the analysis of her poems and techniques.
Hildreth, Kate. Interview with Dorothea Lasky. “An Interview with Dorothea Lasky”. Bookslut. Sep. 2010. Web. 13 Jan. 2011.
This a very candid, enthused dialogue between Lasky and Elizabeth Hildreth. The conversation digresses into areas of discussion from beginning to end. Lasky's views on the comments regarding her sound being too 'midwestern' in Awe are discussed. Although Lasky's original intent of being serious- many people didn’t interpret it that way. Not meant to be cute or kitchy at all. That being said, the conversation develops into Lasky demonstrating about her fondness for Cyndi Lauper and her ability to manipulate how people perceive her. Lauper is a true genious contends Lasky. Between Lauper and Donald Trump, the topic of sexuality is discussed in Lasky's poetry: its most obvious and glaring presence. Lasky encourages the usage of frank sexuality- and finds it annoying when it is used coyly, a sexuality that is coy to disdainful. And through that discussion, Lasky introduces other poets whom have expressed desire to express their sexual components in similar fashion as Lasky. The interview then digresses about Lasky engaging herself with the interviewer's own personal affairs offering a ray of insight and advice- most prominent is Lasky praising the Hildereth's life- stressing not the aesthetics of it- but the strong sense of emotion behind it. That emotion is paralleled to Lasky's own personal stance to the central role of emotion in poetry.
“I like life stories where the circumstances, however bleak or however excellent, don’t exactly matter, because the emotion within them is strong” (sec. 3).
“Think that’s the way sex should always be written about. I think death should be written that way, too. I myself don’t know if I have written about death well -- jury’s out” (sec.2).
“It too has the sense that the object-value of people contains emotions that it is the story’s place (the poem’s place) to make visible. One of my heroes is Lydia Davis. When she writes about sex and relationships, they have the same aspects of object and loss that we are talking about here. But the dryness of her writing is what makes all of these things particularly enjoyable to read. The lack of affect makes the sex in her work pretty incredible” (sec. 3).
Klein, Ish. Interview with Dorothea Lasky. “The BOO! Show with Dottie Lasky.” Youtube. 8 May 2008. Web. 15 Jan 2011.
In this humorous, informal “youtube” video, Dorothea Lasky (better known as Dottie Lasky) is asked various random questions by a woman known as Ish Klein. What makes this particular video so unique is that Lasky is asked these questions via hand puppets and she answers them very casually which shows that she is comfortable with the questions she’s asked and also content in her own skin. Ish Klein’s personality is extremely eccentric and unique like Lasky’s poetry. Klein’s voice is also animated and she asks Dottie questions through “Jeffrey” (the cat hand puppet). Klein’s questions also come from “outer-space”. Lasky also has a hand puppet but she doesn’t choose to speak through it like Klein does for some reason. Throughout the entire video there is background music which gives a sort of serene atmosphere to the whole video. Lasky is asked to read some of her poems to the audience and as she begins to read, the audience can notice that there is a lot of passion in her reading that matches with her poetry as well. Lasky has stated before that she reads the way she does so she can make a lasting impact on her audience and so her audience is able to imprint her words in their minds. When watching this video, it is very clear that Lasky is doing just that. It is also evident that Lasky’s peculiar writing matches her personality and the way she presents herself as well. As opposed to a one dimensional individual, Lasky shows that she is a very intriguing and colorful poet, teacher, and person in general. She is undoubtedly a strong, influential woman with an equally strong and influential voice that has the power to move others.
“...you’re in school for education, and he was curious as to what you think the most important thing to know is” (1:46).
“...I think the most important thing to know is some type of language” (1:52).
“My favorite time to sleep is 3 to 4 because that’s when you’re bio-rhythms are closest to death” (2:41).
“I wanted to ask you about astrology too. Does that inform your behavior or your work?” (3:56).
“It doesn’t inform my work. It might inform my behavior a little bit..” (4:04).
“I usually don’t say things about poems when I read them but I just wanted to tell you all that I’m reading a poem today called ‘The Animal’ and I’m reading it in honor of Sally and Ish and Scott for the show and also I’m reading it on honor of a man that sits in … House Square Park who has a lot of pigeons on him all the time so it’s kind of a Philadelphia poem.” (7:20).
I would definitely use this video in order to convey Lasky’s individualistic personality and her eccentric poetry and behavior. I would also use the questions that Lasky answers for Klein and include the validity of her answers and the questions as well in order to explain certain decisions that Lasky makes in her poetry and the knowledge she has about random things such as the “bio-rhythm” of sleep.
Lasky, Dorothea. Interview with Lauren Berlant. "Berlant and Lasky: I Don’t Understand the God Part.” Make Magazine. 21 Dec 2009. Web. 10 Jan 2010.
In this interview, Lasky is paired up with case study professor Lauren Berlant, together they express their view on art and the relationship between a personal and the general world. And through this discussion both writers digress and identify how they view themselves in relation to the world around them: their views, attachments, and emotions. Lasky answer's Berlant's declarative about how she is “a person of the world” because that is how Lasky identifies herself with as well; as a person of the world. Lasky supplements Berlant’s inquiry as to why Lasky's oral performance is so drastically different than how a reader would expect to read her poetry through just the text alone. Lasky expresses that the reason why she reads in such a flat and monotonous voice is so that she could enable better to become better equipped with the ability to learn. She reads so flat-lined as to help them become 'educated' in her poems- or to put simply understand. Lasky also chimes in on her view on spirituality as she doesn't identify a great spirtual being as being just one being: God. She belives this greater force to be the world around us, and quickly adds that it is an idea that is abstract and obscure to understand (par. 7).
“I am a person of the world, and my concern with the world has to do primarily with education primarily. I am (and feel it is my ethical duty to be) really fascinated by and concerned with (and feel it is my ethical duty to be) with how people learn. I think I read a certain way so as to help people take in my poems better. I try to create a certain kind of flatness when I read, and it is with a certain educative purpose that I do this. I think by creating a flatness in performance poems are makes it easier for readers to understand as they are listening” (par. 7).
“I don’t always think of God/spirituality as being something necessarily mystical or as being something that visits you in an undefined, immaterial way. Nor do I think God is sensual (at least in the way I think of sensual, like an individual body’s sensuality). I think the entire world is God. Thus, your work on cases connects to God for me, although this probably doesn’t make obvious sense” (par.10).
I would utilize this tidbit in poetics, although it is rather short and abstract, it offers rich insight as to why the manifestation of textual poem is so starkly different from her oral performance. It also provides details as to the theology of Lasky- how she thinks as a poet and as a human being- much driven and perpetuated in her poetry evidently.
Lasky, Dorothea. Interview by Kate Greenstreet. “Dorothea Lasky”. every other day. 24 Aug 2007. Web. 10 Jan 2010.
This interview with Lasky revolves around the publication of her first book, Awe, regarding the process of writing, design, and Lasky's reaction towards it's 'birth'. Lasky was so enthused upon the arrival of the Fed-Ex truck with her box of newly published copies of Awe, she frantically waved him down- running to open the box. After opening up the box, he ran to her Macbook to go and take a photo of her frazzled self with the copy of her first book. To me, this detailed reaction expresses how Lasky really is- not the somber and blunt speaker of Awe and Black Life, but an superbly personable and charismatic person. Since the release of her first “physical book (par. 3)” as Lasky refers to Awe, she says she is more compelled to “write freely”- since people have confidence to invest money and time into her. Having the knowledge that there is actually a person reading her poetry inspires her to really write from the heart. Ironically having a published book has done more to humble Lasky as she values the ability to have a platform and pedestal to express her views, and wishes to never take it for granted. Lasky expresses sentiments about how it is so hard for poets now a days to get their works acknowledged for a broader audience. Lasky divulges about the amount of positive feedback she has received from Awe and wishes to travel and do more readings. Lasky addresses how she hopes to change societal perceptions of art and how it is received and viewed in the world- changes include viewing art such as poetry with more value and recognition.
“One of my major life goals is to affect change in the way that arts education is supported in this country. I think that a lot of problems within our educational system stem from the fact that the arts are undervalued and under supported, both because there are young artists within the system with no place to learn how to express themselves in healthy and serious ways and because of the implicit benefits of the arts for learning in general. I am currently getting a doctorate in education because I hope to one day work to change this sad fact of the system” (sec. 13).
“If you have decided to marry poetry, and you love it completely, then the first book itself is simply a happy step on the road to that commitment and like a wedding, in your hands your first book is more a symbolic gesture of your love for poetry. Like a wedding, the universal workings of a book are necessarily more mysterious than they can ever seem on the surface. I think understanding this is the best way to not be let down” (sec. 8).
“Just knowing that my book would exist for real and that I could be reading the poems simultaneously as someone else seemed like it would change my life. And my life has changed a lot by this, as I feel both incredibly more confident and incredibly more insecure than I have ever felt about my writing” (sec. 4).
I feel as if this could fall under supplemental since she discusses the way her first published work Awe has shaped and changed her. She expresses her sentiments about the present state of poetry and art- and the struggles writers and artists have to combat with daily. She provides additional information about how some fame can do to writing and poetry.
Lasky, Dorothea “Interview with Matthew Rohrer.” PennSound. Web. 9 Jan 2010.
In this PennSound conversation with Dorothea Lasky and Matther Rohrer, Lasky plays the roles of the interviewer and the interviewee. First, Lasky begins by asking Rohrer questions. As a student in the MFA program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Matthew Rohrer read, which was a very important reading for Lasky. He influenced her greatly and she learned a lot from his poems while she was finding herself and “cementing [her] voice.” Lasky asks Rohrer if there were other affinities he saw for his work and how he places himself in a “field.” Rohrer responded that he is lucky to have such a great publisher (Wave) because it is “about the people you meet.” An interesting point, Lasky says she thinks it is a weird gesture to connect poetry with the world and larger audiences. For her, it is important to take into account that there are poetry readers out there and its not a limited thing. There are people all over the world that need poetry in their lives and it is important for her to give them the access to it. Then ironically, Lasky is interviewed and is asked to explain how the title of her book Awe is connected to Bush’s invasion of Iraq titled Shock and Awe (this is connecting her poetry to the world and larger audiences). It turns out that when Lasky heard about Bush’s campaign, she thought about the idea of awe being a weapon and she thought a lot about the state of awe. Looking at the world in a stunned way is a weapon and that idea made it feel important to “contemporary times.” According to Lasky, there is something about being stunned that allows us to get power. Lasky shared an anecdote about awe. In college, she had a professor that assigned her class to find the purpose of a poem and the class could not figure it out. Lasky thought her professor was crazy for trying to find purpose in a poem, because she didn’t believe in that. When Lasky’s professor claimed the purpose of the poem was awe, that was when she came to the conclusion that not just awe, but the purpose of poems as well can be used to stun the audience. Then, Lasky is questioned on her relationship with irony and if it comes up in a teaching context. Lasky replied that she hates irony because of the way it plays out. Again, irony is a tool that can be used against people. Irony is something people learn. It is not something that has to be promoted. As for educational purposes, to Lasky, irony feels as though it is meant to hurt people. Even still, she uses it all the time. Comically, she refers to the movie Reality Bites when the woman can’t define irony in time and she doesn’t get the job. This was her example of irony hurting people. Toward the end of the question and answer session, Lasky is asked to comment on her reading style. Lasky views poetry as a form of teaching. She wants the words and lines to stick in her listeners heads, so she pulls the force out of herself so it sticks in that way. This is important for educational purposes. Lasky has not always read like this because she was shy, but now she enjoys performing her poetry (PennSound 25:49).
“internet...makes the world smaller” (6:00).
“gesture to connect poetry with the idea of the world and larger audiences” (6:11).
“I thought a lot about the idea of awe being a weapon and thinking a lot about the state of awe...looking at the world in sort of a stunned way is kind of a weapon...there’s something about being stunned that maybe people, some people feel like other people need to be stunned...for some reason or that’s a tool...I found really fascinating” (8:57).
“she asked us what the purpose of the poem was and we couldn’t figure it out and we were all upset, and I was like this teachers a real idiot” (10:14).
“there’s no purpose to poems” (10:25).
“its not that i think that everyone should be included in everything at every single moment of course, cause then there would be no intimacy” (17:02).
“I want the words and the lines to stick in peoples heads” (22:24).
I would use this PennSound interview for various reasons. The first being that it begins with Lasky interviewing other poets. Being able to listen to how Lasky interacts with others gives me a sense of her personality and why she presents her poems the way she does, or why she incorporates the things she does in her poems. The second reason that I would use this source is because it gives Lasky’s perspective on finding/interpreting the meaning of poems.
Nazfifa, Islam. Interview with Dorothea Lasky. Thoughts Interjected. 9 Dec 2010. Web. 6 Jan 2010.
In her blog “Thoughts Interjected,” Nazfifa Islam begins by asking Lasky to enlighten her as to what her creative process is like, whether or not she has a specific idea, something she wants to accomplish. She also asks Lasky if she knows which direction the poem is going to head in, if she just waits and sees what happens, or a mixture of both. Lasky responded that she doesn’t have an exact idea of where the poem will begin. Her intuition is important in her creative process and Lasky thinks having an idea is beneficial but she doesn’t think the writer should be in control of where it will end up (par. 4). The next question Islam asks is about how she approaches compiling a book of poetry (par. 5). Lasky responds that she compiles poems thematically, sometimes with larger themes and sub-themes (par . 6). When it came to writing Black Life, the tone of the poems and the theme of the book happened simultaneously. The line that begins the book, which is also the title is No Milk/Black Life. It came from the prompt a poet by the name of Laura Solomon told Lasky about (par. 8). Referring to Awe and Sylvia Plath, it turns out that Dorothea Lasky has actually included lines in her poem verbatim from Plath’s poems (par. 9). It turns out that Lasky does this in Black Life as well. Lasky tells Islam that her writing is a mixture of purposely setting out to include such references in her poetry, or if they come organically and seem to fit in the poem. Lasky strongly believes in the organic component of poetry and that it would be misleading to state her poems have no previous thought or structure idea. Halfway through the email interview is when Islam begins to ask questions about specific poems. The first one she discusses is “The Poetry Is Going to Matter After You Are Dead” (par. 16). Islam questions Lasky’s though process behind constructing the poem as a prose as opposed to a more traditional stanza form (par. 17). Lasky comments that she wanted to poem to be relentless and she personally feels as though “prose poems are relentless because there is no time to breath when reading them.” In her opinion, a prose poem is “like riding a train that’s gone off the tracks” (par. 22). In this prose poem, the speaker discusses his or herself as a poet (par. 25), which made Islam interested in Lasky’s choice to discuss the writing of poetry within her poems. She finds that Lasky doesn’t shy away from stating that the poem which the reader is reading is in fact a poem. There is a transparency between the speaker, subject matter and reader. Therefore, Islam asks if this transparency was something Lasky “intentionally created throughout the book” (par. 26) or if it was something she set out to accomplish. Lasky answered that she is interested in transparency and how an author is brought into the poem (par. 27). Aside from discussing her poetry, Lasky answers a few of Islam’s questions relating to techniques she uses. For instance, Lasky uses animals in her poems because she feels they are very important (par. 38). For instance, she uses otters because they are cute and when Lasky worked in a zoo, she would watch them. Religion or faith seems to play an important role throughout Black Life and Awe. It is a theme in Black Life because it is a book about the “struggle against nihilism”. Nihilism is the rejection of all religious and moral principles, often in the belief that life is meaningless (par. 43).
“I think intuition is extremely important to the creative process and it is intuition that fuels a poem for me. I think it is ok to have an idea when you start a poem, but I don’t think you should be in control of the direction a poem will go to entirely” (par. 4).
“try to find themes (colors, images, content) in my poems and arrange a book around these” (par. 6).
“The line that starts the book and is the title No Milk/Black Life comes from a prompt the poet Laura Solomon told me about. She said she and a friend were playing around with the lines and trying to imagine what scene might go with such lines. The scenes they imagined were very bleak. When she told me the lines, I immediately imagined a very sad scene of a mother and son, at the depths of poverty, sitting in a dark room (done up in the colors and mood of Van Gogh’s The Potato Eaters). In my imagined scene, the mother opens the refrigerator door and there is no food. The boy then says No Milk/Black Life and smiles eerily. After I had this vision, I knew it was a great title for the book. I started arranging my already very sad poems around this theme and adding in the color black and the term black life when appropriate. I also wrote new poems with this title in mind” (par. 8).
“ Fever 103 degrees is one of my favorite poems. Lemon water seems like such a wretched thing in Plath’s poem. I feel like that is the way Anorexia feels” (par. 13).
“I wanted the poem to be relentless and I think prose poems are relentless, because there is no room for line break/breath” (par. 13).
“ I think a prose poem is like riding a train that’s gone off the tracks” (par. 22)
“ I also see the lifelong process of being a poet as enacting a long-term relationship with your reader. It ebbs and flows, gets more and less intimate, but it is a bond no matter what, and a bond that is effectively unbreakable if you continue to write poems” (par. 27)
“ think the honestly takes away the barrier and the pretense. I think pretense keeps some readers away from poetry unnecessarily. I think that some might interpret this relationship as a call towards something opposite to artifice, but this is not what I meant to do. I hope my poem Style is Joy might explain this a bit” (par. 31).
I would use this source in poetics as it is a lengthy interview that reveals a lot of information of Lasky’s techniques. For instance, Lasky explains why she uses animals and colors in her poems. There is also a connection between Lasky and Islam as they are both fans of Sylvia Plath. Sylvia Plath has influenced Lasky greatly, which also gives me another source to find out where Lasky may have adopted her writing style.
Wilkinson, Joshua Marie. Interview with Dorothea Lasky. “An Interview with Dorothea Lasky”. Octopus Magazine. Web. 10 Jan 2010.
In this long and insightful interview with Dorothea Lasky by Wilkinson, Lasky divulges the influences that have impacted her poetry and describes her overall attitude towards poetry. And while the core of the interview revolves around Lasky's poetic perspective, the poet discusses her her more candid side that makes the author seem a lot more personable, completely separating speaker from writer in her poems. When questioned about what general influences have impacted her writing, Lasky comments that it is a lot more complex (than one complete source of inspiration as she draws from a multitude of sources as music and art (par. 2). Although, Lasky does indulge Wilkinson with her fascination and beloved adoration for Sylvia Plath. Lasky describes Plath as being a writer that commands an immense “sense of power (par. 2)” and seriousness that Lasky tries to fuse in her poems as well. Plath writes with a blatant “purpose (par.2 )- and so should all good poets do according to Lasky. Surprisingly, Lasky confesses that she tries very hard to be serious in her poem although her writing is misconstrued with comedy (par. 4).” For a moment, the conversation digresses and Lasky opens up about how on the inside she really is an extremely sensitive hopeless romantic (par. 5). When presented with criticism for the “loquaciousness” of her work, Lasky humors the interviewer by expressing how her poems are unique and different because they 'stand out'. They are unafraid, and this raw aspect of her poem is what makes it “'real” (par. 7). At the same time, Lasky critiques modern day poetry should just focus on being good, and that a lot of the times, bad poetry is what is published. And although Lasky appreciates all criticism (constructive) towards her poetry- she doesn't emphasize criticism as being a major factor into her editing poems- but rather they shape the template for the underground poetry world to help improve and influence future works. And thus, when asked the reason why she writes poetry, Lasky provides insightful words to which she believes that writing poetry was a thing that came naturally to her (at 7), she comments on how poetry is indeed a great portal into discussion of beauty and knowledge, yet she has no silly notions of poetry being a greater deal than it really is. Poetry is meant to simply exist, poetry shouldn't define us or our lives- rather a tool into the way people live (par. 15).
“I think poetry should do what it was meant to do—exist. And then the big things that need to be done—like saving the world, for instance—needs to be up to us as humans. We need poetry, but we need it like we need a tool. Poetry is our poetry hammer. And likewise, poetry is human, even as it is dead. And so I think poetry can connect us to our humanity if we bring the human back into it.” (sec. 16)
“I never decided to write poetry. As cliché as it is to say, poetry found me” (sec. 9).
“I think that my poems get their power because they—like me—are unafraid. My poems are unafraid of what others might think of them, because they are real and they live in the real world. Reality has a certain element of loquaciousness, because reality itself is unafraid to show itself. Reality takes a risk in that it can't not take one. I think a lot about reality and its relationship to language and language expression, and the braveness of the real and natural worlds” (sec. 5).
I definitely think I could utilize this in biography Lasky really offers a rich and honest array of reasons why poetry is what it is to her. Everything from why she writes to how she writes. She details the quirkiness of a writer that coincides with such raw poetry, that it was surprising for me to discover Lasky as such a person. This interview is much revealing about why her poems are written the way they are and their purpose.
"Awe." Rev. of Awe, Publishers Weekly 254.33 (2007): 50. General Reference Center Gold. Web. 17 Jan. 2011.
This article in Publishers Weekly briefly describes Lasky’s book Awe. Since we only got to read Black Life, I believed that this was an additional source we could be able to use in order to discuss Lasky’s poetry and published books in general. Since we are familiar with Lasky’s writing style and her unique tone when reading her poems, it’s easier to imagine what the rest of her poetry may be like. In this article, Awe is said to “negotiate a young woman’s world with true belief” (par. 1). Towards the end of the article, there’s a subtle “dislike” expressed by the author of the article as the “uncompelling dream images and tired stream-of-consciousness musings” (par.1) are discussed. As different lines in a variety of Lasky’s poems are discussed, this article makes readers want to go out and get a copy of Awe if they already haven’t done so.
“Lasky deftly handles holy subjects in an unholy, and yet never disrespectful, manner”(par. 1).
“Unfortunately, uncompelling dream images and tired stream-of-consciousness musings bog down much of this work” (par. 1).
“In the end it is Lasky's relationship to her God that inspires her best and makes this a surprising and worthwhile read...” (par. 1).
I could use this article when discussing how other important sources or people may view Lasky’s poetry as opposed to her usual fan base. In addition to that, I may also choose to agree or disagree with what the author of this article has to say about Lasky’s book and in order to do that, I would have to obtain a copy of Awe myself. I would also choose specific quotes from the article and pick poems that match what is stated by this author.
Beckman, Joshua. “Poet’s Sampler: Dorothea Lasky.” Rev. of Dorothea Lasky’s Poetry. Boston Review. May 2005. Web. 10 Jan 2011.
Beckman states that Lasky has a “voice so simultaneously full of certainty and uncertainty”(par. 1). In Lasky’s poems, it’s very easy for her readers to get lost in what she is trying to get through. Lasky’s poetry is the type that an individual can enjoy instead of constantly racking their brains about the meaning. It’s possible to look into the deeper meaning afterwards, but one shouldn’t allow that to get in the way of the natural beauty of the poem, so to speak. Beckman mentions this “uncomfortable space” that he defines as “poems that speak to us, poems that exist in a space no greater or lesser than the space between two people in real conversation”. When reading her poetry, it’s almost as if she’s allowing her readers into some unknown part of their own state of being that they never knew existed. A part where they can feel as though they are entitled to have the same mindset as Lasky- and almost lash out just like her.
“It seems a foolish endeavor to try and understand the motives of any poem or define the success of any poet’s work, and it seems to me that the best poems ask something very different of us” (par. 1).
“And then, there are poems that speak to us, poems that exist in a space no greater or lesser than the space between two people in real conversation” (par. 1).
“Dorothea Lasky’s poems exist in this uncomfortable certain space, and from it invite us in, so that we can be a part of something essential, so that we can hear a voice that speaks of essential things” (par. 1).
“It is a voice alive with things I have never thought of and about which I am always thankful to hear” (par. 1).
Since I completely agree with Beckman, I could use this review to my advantage when writing about Lasky. I could make some valid points about her poetry and incorporate what Beckman has to say in my research paper. This review would also give me the upper hand in disputing what other critics may have to say about Lasky and her poetry. When I read Lasky’s poems, I was initially shocked and then I began to ponder. Solely imagining this was gratifying enough for me that it made me appreciate Lasky and her credibility as a writer so much more than I thought I would. Being able to have that kind of freedom is such an amazing advantage to have which is another reason why I look up to Lasky.
Christopher, Lonely. “Some Sort of Truth: Dorothea Lasky’s Black Life Hurts Like Joy.” Rev. of Black Life. Web. 10 Jan. 2011.
Being able to read what other people’s perspectives are for Dorothea Lasky’s poetry is enriching in its own sense because it allows her audience to open their minds to ideas and opinions they may have never had before and it also makes them wonder “what if?” In this book review, a commentator who identifies himself as “Lonely Christopher” depicts Lasky’s poetry in ways he perceives to be fairly accurate and appropriate for her level of writing. “Lonely Christopher’s” rich language allows his readers to really understand and appreciate Lasky’s writing. In Christopher’s opinion, Lasky “carves into the alphabet for poetry’s hurtfully buried, metastasized epiphanies of black life (par. 1)”. This sentence in the review is so effective on its own because it makes the readers wonder what the writer of this review is referring to. For someone who has never heard of Dorothea Lasky or read any of her work, it would be difficult to pinpoint the exact meaning of this statement. But this statement is the perfect fit for what we’ve been trying to describe Lasky’s poems as and what we ourselves think of them to be. For example Lasky’s language is often shocking and blunt in order for her readers to be enticed and to continue reading which can relate to the “poetry’s hurtfully buried (par. 2)”. Lasky’s bold and risky language may have been “hurtfully buried (par. 1)” beneath other poets subtle and traditional styles of writing. Christopher may be referring to Lasky’s audacity for using these risque words and thoughts in her published work. By “metastasized epiphanies of black life (par.1)”, Christopher is probably trying to explain how Lasky’s poetry can really get through to her readers. Although some of her poetry is “black” there’s always a silver lining or a way to look on the bright side. Christopher then goes on to describe specific poems from Lasky’s books such as Awe and Black Life. Again, in his descriptions and passages that he chooses to describe, Christopher makes it apparent that Lasky’s writing style contains a lot of “directness” and thoughtful quality.
“Thence comes the fragments of jagged wonder she strings together to decorate her verse with pretty conflict” (par. 2).
“stilted like she’s writing after a concussion, but the generalness of language (many fundamental ideas repeating, put forth directly) is thick—it spills over the edges of its meaning into the scary beyond” (par. 3).
“Lasky stitches her love and confusion, rent cosmically, together monster-like into her pages—along with shards of fuzzy relationships, tropes, emptiness, fears, wishes, loss, pride, doubt, desire, nature, the supernatural, the growling universe, the black life… and this under the shadow of a ruddy divinity barely glimpsed at for the shriek of its own confusing light” (par. 3).
“ ‘The real life is wild and the animals will bite you’ ” (par. 3).
“Lasky is after awe; being weird is so significant, like a power; her darkness is a special gift that she holds; she will know love” (par. 2).
“ ‘Poetry has everything to do with existing in the realm of uncertainty’ ” (par. 4).
could use this when I’m writing about Lasky’s credibility and the way
her readers and fans view her as a woman poet and as an influential
source as well.
Haegele, Kate. “Sharing Her Work Without Leaving Home”. The La La Theory. 30 Dec 2007. Web. 13 Jan 2011.
This article provides third party commentary on Lasky's transition of paper to internet. But, mainly revolving around the theme about how 'home' is never so far away from 'art'. Also commentary on the quirky ways she provides readings of her poetry to listeners- in readings Lasky chronicles as the TINY TOURS. The writer added that it was “entertaining” to say the least in how in one video of her tour- she presented a reading in her bathroom- donned in appropriate attire. Lasky presented her poem in bathrobe while her guests donned similar clothing as well. In another leg of the tour, Lasky is seen donning black satin gloves and a full length black evening gown. In the article, the writer reveals Lasky's thoughts about poetry in a new age: the internet. Lasky says that “the internet is so much cheaper than poetry tours”- commenting on the potential to reach more listeners as well. It divulges the details of how Lasky films these readings inside the confines of her own home using iMovieMaker to edit the videos. Offering a fresh remark, Lasky commented on how she learned how to turn the ratings systems off of Youtube- since she found them rather distasteful. Lasky's mature road to utilizing Youtube and technology in are said to be “learning experiences”. In her home readings, Lasky's comrades of poet friends and companions sit around and gather to listen to her read. By reading in such an intimate and unexpected way- Lasky hopes to take the 'stuffiness' and rigidness of reading in places like museums and such, and hopes to make people understand and appreciate a whole new medium of art. In instilling those remarks- general appearances and aesthetics do much to enhance the overall richness of art.
“On their own, of course, the readings are a kind of performance. Lasky said she hopes this format makes them less stuffy and less removed from the everyday than places like museums can seem” (par. 16).
“I love music videos. When I listen to a song, I think about a video that might go with it. I love words and images together. It's about looking. I've noticed a tendency, a cultural tendency at poetry readings, for people to avoid looking at [the reader]. With a video, you can really study the person, really look” (par. 19).
“Lasky wanted to include other art forms, too, so she asked her friend Ketchum to choreograph a dance performance. Ketchum constructed a kind of love-story dance that she and Kosla performed in a corner of Lasky's bedroom. It was inspired by Lasky's book and even has the name "Shall We Buy a Truck," a line from Lasky's poem, ‘The Chinese Restaurant’ ” (par. 15).
Supplemental use as it reveals about how Lasky indulges in the aesthetics of arts- and the performance of arts as well. It is not just the poetry but in essence the entire package.
Zultanski, Steven. “Buffalo Small Press Poetry presents: Anselm Berrigan & Dorothea Lasky.” Art Voice. 12 Feb 2009. Web. 13 Jan 2011.
The article discusses the unique ways in which personal voice is intertwined in poetic works of art. Especially that of Dorothea Lasky. In the article, the reviewer suggests that Lasky's poem is so honest and her ability to 'write about herself'- yet never in a way that the writer is intertwined within the speaker's personal narrative. Her style of writing is described as being contemporary and full of raw emotion- and speaks straight-faced to listeners and readers. The writer comments on Lasky's personal reading style which is a fusion of everything from flat-lined voiced yelling to whispers in such an aggressive manner that it leaves the reader in awe. And although Lasky's poems comprise of very personal and explicit details; they all chronicle the same themes and emotions of life, life, death, love, etc. The usage of Lasky's personal syntax to write about such intimacy is what makes the writer so unique and prominent.
“Dorothea Lasky, on the other hand, more explicitly writes about herself, but in a tricky fashion in which the author can never really be pinned down” (par. 4).
“Perhaps even more striking than the seeming emotional honesty of the poems themselves is Lasky’s reading style, which sometimes involves yelling but always involves powerful and clear articulations of the poems in a forceful, nearly aggressive manner. Her readings are characterized by the intense focus of the audience as she belts and whispers her poems” (par. 5).
“Themes of spirituality, death, friendship, and love are cycled through Lasky’s unique personal syntax” (par. 5).
I would use this in poetics as this describes Lasky's writing style. Her prominent of speaker voice and writer's voice is so different yet utilized almost to perfection. Lasky's style of writing is what makes her poetry all the more unique and rare; in essence her blunt and raw style had led to notoriety.
“Bernadette Mayer Biography.” The Poetry Foundation. 30 Jan 2011.
Bernadette Mayer was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1945 and has since then spent most of her life in New York City (par. 1). Some of her most famous collections of poetry are Midwinter Day (1982, 1999), A Bernadette Mayer Reader (1992), The Desire of Mothers to Please Others in Letters (1994), Another Smashed Pinecone (1998), and Poetry State Forest (2008) (par. 1). Mayer first won critical acclaim for Memory, which combined photography and narration (par. 2). Mayer is also known for her prose poems. The Desire of Mothers to Please Others in Letters, for example, are various prose poems written by Mayer during her third pregnancy. Aside from her writing, Mayer has worked as a teacher and an editor (par. 6). She edited the 0 TO 9 journal with artist Vito Acconci and she also established the United Artists press, which has published a number of influential writers (such as Robert Creeley, Anne Waldman, James Schuyler, and Alice Notley), with poet Lewis Warsh (par. 6).
“Mayer’s poetry often challenges poetic conventions by experimenting with for and stream-of-consciousness; readers have compared her to Gertrude Stein, Dadaist writers, and James Joyce” (par. 3).
“Poet Fanny Howe commented in the American Poetry Review on Midwinter Day, a book-length poem written during a single day in Lenox, Massachusetts: “In a language made up of idiom and lyricism, Mayer cancels the boundaries between prose and poetry,
. . . Her search for patterns woven out of small actions confirms the notion that seeing what is is a radical human gesture” (par. 3).
“Ange Minko’s review of Two Haloed Mourners (1998) in the Poetry Project Newsletter describes its structure: ‘The book starts out dense, vagrant, proceeding on a combination of automatic writing and methodical structural repetitions. It picks up speed, changes gears from poetry to prose and back again, tries out a sestina where both beginning and ending words recur. . . . Then something explodes midway through the book, as though all this formal experimentation was the rumbling and smoldering of Mt. Saint Helens erupting over the circumstances of Bernadette Mayer’s move back to the Lower East Side from New Hampshire, where what was menace in the air of rural America is met head-on in the New York of Reagan and Wall Street’ ” (par. 4).
“Sylvia Plath Biography.” Creative Commons. Web. 30 Jan 2011.
Sylvia Plath (pseudonym Victoria Lucas) is an American writer who is best known for her personal imagery and intense focus in her poems (par. 1). Plath committed suicide at the age of 31, leaving only two books published. Sylvia Plath was born in Boston in 1932. Her father was a professor at Boston University (par. 2). An interesting fact, Mr. Plath specialized in bees. He died when Plath was eight years old. Plath’s mother’s name was Aurelia and she worked two jobs to support Plath and her brother Warren. For some reason, Plath did not like her mother (par. 2). Plath was very well-educated. She won many prizes and scholarships that led her through Gamaliel Bradford Senior High School (now known as Wellesley High School). She went on to attend college at Smith College from 1950-1955. After winning a Fulbright scholarship, Plath attended college in England. She went to Newnham College (par. 3). In England, she met poet Ted Hughes in 1956. They later married even though Plath had many thoughts and suspicions of Hughes’s infidelity (par. 3). In 1957, Plath returned to the United States where she taught literature at Smith college. Plath had three children with Hughes and he abandoned her for another woman (Assia Gutman Wevil, wife of the Canadian poet David Wevill) (par. 5). Plath died in London on February 11, 1963. Plath committed suicide by using gas.
“In Letters Home (1975), edited by Plath's mother, she revealed a portrait of a young woman driven by hopes for the highest success alternating with moods of deep depression” (par. 1).
“Her first awarded story, Sunday at the Mintons, was published in 1952 while she was at college in magazine Mademoiselle. Plath worked in 1953 on the college editorial board at the same magazine and suffered a mental breakdown which led to a suicide attempt”
“She described this period of her live in The Bell Jar, her autobiographical novel, which was published under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas in 1963, a month before her death. The novel takes place in New York at the height of the Cold War, during the hot summer in which the Rosenbergs were sent to the electric chair, convicted of spying for the Soviets. Against this background Plath sets the story of the breakdown and near-death of her heroine. The book is considered a powerful exploration of the restricted role of women” (par. 3).
“Plath's early poetry was based on then current styles of refined and ironic verse. Under the influence of her husband and the work of Dylan Thomas and Gerald Manley Hopkins, she developed with great force her talents” (par. 5).
“Near the end of her life, Plath burned hundreds of pages of a work in progress. In one of her final poems she wrote: 'Dying / is an art, like everything else. / I do it exceptionally well’ ” (par. 6).
“It is as if my life were magically run by two electric currents: joyous positive and despairing negative -- which ever is running at the moment dominates my life, floods it. I am now flooded with despair, almost hysteria, as if I were smothering. As if a great muscular owl were sitting on my chest, its talons clenching & constricting my heart”
“During her career as writer Plath was loosely linked to the confessional poets, a term used to describe among others Robert Lowell, Anne Sexton (1928-74, committed suicide), and John Berryman” (par. 8).
“Her literary reputation rests mainly on her carefully crafted pieces of poetry, particularly the verse that she composed in the months leading up to her death. Plath has been considered a deeply honest writer, whose ceaseless self-scrutiny has given a unique point of view to psychological disorder and to the theme of the feminist-martyr in a patriarchal society” (par. 8).
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