Ugly Duckling’s Digital Library

If you’re left without anything “good” to read now that Ron’s sophisticated and brilliant comment box conversation has been shut down, I’d suggest these four books from Leslie Scalapino. I came to Leslie’s work as an undergraduate at Buffalo, and I remember staying up late one night reading Considering How Exaggerated Music Is voraciously, with a driven intensity. A few years later I met her at Buffalo (not an intense meeting– not the kind of meeting where the poet you admire will remember you afterward) and witnessed an interesting discussion between her and Susan Howe about being a female writer. I found this discussion dissatisfying but eye-opening, because Leslie and Susan were in a different generation than I am and had very different feelings about being a female writer than I do.  (Emma and Nona’s interview with Marjorie Perloff stages almost the same dynamic I felt during that discussion.)

Another treasure trove you could explore is Ugly Duckling’s digital library. I recommend Maureen Thorson’s Novelty Act and Jen Bervin’s a non-breaking space.


About Jessica Smith
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4 Responses to Ugly Duckling’s Digital Library

  1. adam strauss says:

    Could you summarize the Howe-Scalapino exchange? I’m very curious, as I admire both of them! I hope all’s well!

  2. I really wish I could… it was so long ago. As far as I remember, I think the issue was silence. I was thinking that we were at a point now, as female writers, where we could choose to be silent (that is, not do poetry readings), and they were talking about feeling silenced in their generation. But they also seemed to have a difficult relation with being called “female writers,” at the same time that they identified with female forebears (like Dickinson). It seemed harder for them to say, like, “I’m a female writer in a tradition that includes Dickinson.” There was also a thread about how it felt, for their generation, for so many female writers (their elders) to be “crazy” (Dickinson, Plath); to have killed themselves. Since it was a discussion, it was one of those scenarios where many threads are brought up without being fully addressed. And then there’s my memory to contend with, as this was probably 7 years ago. I wonder if other Buffalo grads remember this better than I do. I’ll ask around.

  3. adam strauss says:

    Thank you for the response; I hope all’s well!

  4. I will try Leslie Scalapino again. Which book? I attended a mind-numbingly academic reading by her at a group thing at the Bowery Poetry Center. A disastrous choice perhaps.

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