- July 9, 2010
- Posted by: Elijah Gartin
Congratulations to PAMLA member Catherine Cucinella on the publication of her celebrated new book, Poetics of the Body: Edna St. Vincent Millay, Elizabeth Bishop, Marilyn Chin, and Marilyn Hacker (Palgrave, 2010).
Poetics of the Body examines representations of the body in the work of four important twentieth-century poets: Edna St. Vincent Millay, Elizabeth Bishop, Marilyn Chin, and Marilyn Hacker. Drawing on both past and present discussions regarding the place of the body in relation to Western philosophy, gender, sexuality, desire, creative production, and narrative, this study reveals how the poetic bodies in the poetry of these women negotiate the intersecting ideologies that attempt to regulate the body, its characteristics, and its behaviors. Ultimately, this dynamic bookconsiders what it means to possess a body.
“Cucinella’s intense book about bodily representation provides a new way of seeing the work of Millay, Bishop, Chin, and Hacker. Its synthetic theorizations, brilliant close readings, and final dialogue with Chin bring the study of the represented female body to a new plateau. An essential book.”—Steven Gould Axelrod, author of Sylvia Plath: The Wound and the Cure of Words and co-editor of The New Anthology of American Poetry, Volumes 1-3
“Poetics of the Body offers a first-rank conversation about the cultural politics of ‘the body’ in recent American women’s poetry. I predict that Cucinella’s readings of Millay, Bishop, Chin, and Hacker will place her solidly at the forefront of a new wave of feminist scholars who write about poetry. This work is essential for anyone interested in ‘the body’s’ often contentious relationship to gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, and class.”—Camille Roman, author of Elizabeth Bishop’s World War II-Cold War View and co-editor of The Women & Language Debate: A Sourcebook
“Cucinella’s Poetics of the Body is a refreshing book. By listening attentively to the distinct story of the body that each of her four poets has to tell, Cucinella offers a compelling and diverse story of American women’s poetry in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. For Cucinella, a poem is not a mask for the poet to hide behind but a place to explore and perform the problems, fears, challenges, and pleasures of the body. In elegant, theoretically sophisticated readings that ground each poets’ work in place, time, and experience, a unique poetics of the body comes into focus—Edna St. Vincent Millay’s commodified body, Elizabeth Bishop’s ambiguous body, Marilyn Chin’s investigations of the body in the context of the Chinese American immigrant experience, and Marilyn Hacker’s complex intertwining of body and language. It is finally, though, the exuberance Cucinella conveys, the delight she takes in poetic craft, and the careful attention she pays to a poet’s body of work, that marks this book as worth reading.”—Bethany Hicok, author of Degrees of Freedom: American Women Poets and the Women’s College, 1905-1955
“Cucinella’s book is smart, thorough, informative, and forward-thinking. It adds a great deal to current conversations about representation of the body in literature.”—Dr. Renee R. Curry, author of White Women Writing White: H.D., Elizabeth Bishop, Sylvia Plath, and Whiteness