Monday, August 20, 2012
LOOKING UP HARRYETTE MULLEN
The good people at Belladonna Press provided me with a copy of this delightful book last summer just as I was heading off to the University of Kansas to teach a graduate seminar. I took the book along with me, thinking that I should at least mention it in the course as the seminar was a study of developments in innovative African American poetry, only to find that one of the students there had already read it. Word travels quickly in the poetry world.
I'm glad that the book has a subtitle so that people picking it up won't expect something like George Butterick's Guide to Olson's Maximus, or even just pages of glosses. This book is not intended to fill in the background for every allusion in Muse and Drudge (but I do wish more readers of Muse & Drudge would listen to "I'm Your Puppet" by James and Bobby Purify).
That said, you can learn a great deal about individual passages of Mullen's work in the pages of this book. Much of it is correspondence, a post-card interview stretching across a period of time, in the course of which you can follow Mullen thinking through the issues that Barbara Henning brings up. There's also a fine introduction by Juliana Spahr.
You can find out more about this book by clicking here to visit Belladonna Press.