Tuesday, January 09, 2018

The Erotic Paul Verlaine

Rejoice! The latest issue of American Book Review has hit the streets, guest-edited by Anthony Madrid and focused on erotic poetry.  I wrote a little something called "A Feminine Canaan," about Paul Verlaine's erotic poetry.  If you want to see how many kinks there were in that guy's rope, check it out.  It begins like this:
Early on in his literary career, Paul Verlaine swore off most of the traditional sources of poetic ecstasy. "Nature, nothing about you moves me," he writes in the poem "Anxiety," adding "I scoff at Art, and mankind too." Verlaine throws Classical Greek civilization—the source of quickening heart rates for many a European writer from Winkelmann to Rilke, from Pater to Cavafy—into the dustbin of the uninspiring. Out, too go the monuments of Christianity, and God himself, and even love. Well, maybe not love, or at least not all forms of love. Agape he can do without, but in the absence of so many sources of delirious exaltation, Verlaine leaves himself one: the realm of the erotic. 
You'd be forgiven if you hadn't noticed. For one thing, the most explicit parts of Verlaine's erotic oeuvre were long repressed. Les Amies (1867), a little book of poems about fantasy lesbians luxuriating for the male gaze, was published illicitly in Belgium and smuggled into France. A later book, Femmes (1890), in which Verlaine recounts in great detail his encounters with Parisian prostitutes, was a similarly underground document, and its companion volume about men, Hombres (1891), wasn't published until after Verlaine died. The erotic poems have had a checkered publication history since: they didn't even find their way into the otherwise comprehensive and canonical Pléiade edition until a special supplement was issued in 1989. But once you dial into Paul Verlaine's particular erotic frequency—which was less about male or female bodies than about genderless surrender, less about penetrating or being penetrated than about a kind of soul-shattering act of submission, you find that his kind of erotic ecstasy had been hiding in plain sight since the beginning of his poetic career.
You can read the whole essay now at Project Muse, or, if you don't have access to that, you might check from time to time to see when it comes up at the ABR site.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

2018 Plonsker Prize at Lake Forest College: $10,000, Residency & Book Publication, Judged by Lida Yukanavitch

It's time, fiction writers, to submit your manuscript for the 2018 Madeleine P. Plonsker Emerging Writers Residency Prize.  The image above depicts the Glen Rowan House, where the winner will be in residence.  Other details below!


Judge: Lidia Yukanavitch

Lake Forest College Press/&NOW Books is open to submissions on January 1st for the Madeleine P. Plonsker Emerging Writers Residency Prize from fiction writers under the age of forty who have not yet published a full-length book.

The winning writer receives $10,000, three weeks of residency at Glen Rowan House on the campus of Lake Forest College, and publication of her or his book by Lake Forest College Press / &NOW Books, with distribution by Northwestern University Press.

To enter: Submit (here!) a thirty-page sample of a book-length work in progress, along with a one-page statement of plans for completion. We cap submissions at 200. Submissions close on March 1, 2018. Submissions will not be accepted before January 1, 2018.

For more information on the Plonsker Prize, click here.

Past winners and judges

2017 Winner (Poetry)
Christine Larusso, Los Angeles, CA: MAR (forthcoming, 2018)
Judge: Carmen Giménez Smith

2016 Winner (Prose):
Meg Whiteford, author of An Ordered World, a novel (forthcoming, 2018)
Judge: Brian Evenson

2015 Winner (Prose):
Christopher Perez, author of gaugin’s notebook, a poetic narrative (2017)
Judge: Eleni Sikelianos

2014 Winner (Prose):
Matthew Nye, author of Pike and Bloom, a novel (2016)
Judge: Anne-Laure Tissut

2013 Winner (Poetry):
Cecilia K. Corrigan, author of Titanic, a book of poems (2014)
Judge: Lisa Roberston

2012 Winner (Prose):
Elizabeth Gentry, author of Housebound, a novel (2013)
Judge: Kate Bernheimer

2011 Winner (Poetry):
José Perez Beduya, Throng, a book of poems (2012)
Judge: Jennifer Moxley

2010 Winner (Prose):
Gretchen Henderson, Galerie de Difformité, a hybrid narrative (2011)

2009 Winner (Poetry):
Jessica Savitz, Hunting is Painting, a book of poems (2010)