Sunday, November 11, 2007

Taking up Space


I'd been reading Susan Gubar's book, Rooms of our Own, very slowly for some months, when I came across Lemon Hound, the blog of Sina Queyras. I've been so impressed by her entries, and then reading excerpts from the book of the same name, that I ordered myself a copy. (Her others, Teeth Marks, and Slip, are now on my Christmas list). There are so many things to say about Lemon Hound - the poetry literally sparks! Playful, intelligent, sensual and utterly Awake, these poems interact/engage with Virginia Woolf and the world in ways that I found sublimely refreshing. I've never been a huge fan of the prose poem until now, but then I don't think I've ever seen it used so skillfully.

It's worth following the thread on Lemon Hound, the blog, concerning sexism in poetry. As someone whose book was once reviewed in relation to the Charlie's Angels movie, I'm happy to see this being taken up. There's this unwritten rule that you're not supposed to respond to reviews of your work. I don't entirely agree but haven't figured out how to do this without further empowering the type of reviewer who likens you to one of Charlie's Angels. I think Lemon Hound has it right when she says, "For my part: I don't argue anymore, I just take up space." So, here I am.

Back to the Susan Gubar book. This is a necessary book, from one of the women who brought us the equally necessary, The Madwoman in the Attic. As you might guess from the title, Gubar is reconfiguring Woolf's A Room of One's Own. What she does is experimental and effective. That she sustains this contemporized Woolfian voice throughout is a feat, but the questions she asks, What advances have women made and what still needs to be done? seem courageous in this present climate. She revisits the idea of the Angel in the House, saying "If the Angel in the House no longer cautioned today's woman writer to be kind and modest and pure, hadn't other invisible censors arisen, tampering with integrity, resulting in deflections or evasions of a different sort?"

I could pull out a lot of great lines from Lemon Hound to end this entry, but there's a quotation in the book at the head of the section "On the Scent" by Lisa Robertson that I quite like. She says, "It is too late to be simple."