Dr. Alex E. Blazer

Department of English & Rhetoric

Georgia College & State University

Milledgeville, GA 31061

alex.blazer@gcsu.edu

alexeblazer.com

 

Jorie Graham: Hollows and Voids

 

Chapter Four of my dissertation, written with the aid of a Summer Fellowship from the Department of English, appraises the work of Jorie Graham, whose poetry is one of anguish. Her poetics hollow out convention and gesture toward the void at the heart of the symbolic. Her poetry, like Maurice Blanchot's theory, is a literature of silence and impossibility that seeks to first excavate and then negate the influential voices of other languages in order to create a poetic language wholly one's own, yet paradoxically founded in nothing. Whereas other authors are full of anxious being or replete with ironized meaning, Graham is emptied of subjectivity. The poet uses poststructuralist theory to strip the psyche bare; and in the process of anguished self-nullification, the psyche traverses a real of being that resists symbolic overtures. The section of my chapter specifically presented to the department reads Graham's poem "Chaos (Eve)" as an exercise in anguish: Adam hollows himself out and rips his skin off in order to stitch together his own Other, Eve, in the form of a tattered body-rag. Skin constitutes a metaphor for texture and textuality. Consequently, the ripping and suturing of skin constitutes the anguished tarrying with the negative of one's own being.

 

This abstract summarizes my presentation, "Jorie Graham: Hollows and Voids," Summer Fellowship Forum, Department of English, The Ohio State University, October 16, 2002. Presentation