Week 6 Recyclopedia: Trimmings, S*PeRM**K*T, and Muse & Drudge by Harryette Mullen

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Three of Harryette Mullen’s books of poetry, originally published by very small independent presses, have been gathered into this single volume by Greywolf Press and republished in 2006.

I rarely read a book of poetry straight through, but these poems, full of word play and as the publisher says “…the language of fashion and femininity, advertising and the supermarket, the blues and traditional lyric poetry” are like snack food. Can’t eat just one.  But, hey, these poems are good for you.

The first two books are in the form of prose poems, Trimmings responding to Gertrude Stein’s Objects and S*PeRM**K*T to Stein’s Food, which are two of the three sections of Tender Buttons. Mullen’s book, Muse & Drudge, is comprised of eighty poems, each untitled and four quatrains (4 x 4). Some stanzas rhyme, some do not, all are ear candy. I found myself reading each poem multiple times, but then wanting to press on to find out/listen to what might be on the next page. The language is quite condensed.

This is one of my favorite stanzas (the first stanza of the poem on Page 158) in Muse & Drudge:

O rose so drowsy in

my flower bed your pink

pajamas zig-zag into

fluent dreams of living ink”
The rose can be a fraught object/subject in modern poetry, the Romantics having written it ragged.  Gertrude Stein wrote in her 1913 poem Sacred Emily: “A rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.” And here we have Mullen’s take on the rose.

 

 

7 comments on “Week 6 Recyclopedia: Trimmings, S*PeRM**K*T, and Muse & Drudge by Harryette Mullen”

  1. How lovely to see these interactions. I would have to reread Stein, and perhaps read some of Stein I haven’t yet got to. I doubt this is in my near future. I see a lot of Monkey for the next few years as I undergo my PhD, but I have committed to keeping a some time in my life to read for pleasure and am looking forward to curling up with a new book of poetry gifted to me by my partner. I have to honestly say I have never cared much to receive a book of poems before but I am excited by this one and requested it specifically- but I will keep all that for my post.

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    1. I look forward to reading about your book of poems. Harryette Mullen writes in her introduction that her appreciation of Stein’s writing did not come easily or quickly. I’d say the same about mine. But come it did.

      Monkey?

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      1. I remember crying my eyes out unable to engage with the texts when I took a 19th century novel course. I’m delighted that I can now see more than I did then. I’m still no fan of epic romances but they usually don’t madden me the way they once did. I’m told I’ve mellowed over the years. I’m sure that helps. Monkey is a conversation for another day. Probably many and indeed it will need to be a books worth or my dissertation will never be done. I will get to it more concisely another time tho.

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  2. Rain check on Monkey. Dissertation comes first.

    We change as we live our lives, and texts seem correspondingly to evolve. A great pleasure of reading…particularly reading poetry.

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