Harryette Mullen

Imagining the Renegade Author of _Sleeping with the Dictionary_

Necessarily tied into my last plateau’s concerns with the Author of Sleeping with the Dictionary and her relationship with the reader are the issues of selfhood and identity politics that permeate this project. Mullen’s relationship to authorship and authority is complicated in some obvious ways, for example through her use of “sampling” and allusion, which … Continue reading

Harryette Mullen

Mullen’s Common and Experiential Communities

If my project has dwelled too long on the relationship between the individual and society, it’s because this divide is historically fraught in the study of poetry. And, certainly, this relationship, and its implications, is a recurring theme in all of Mullen’s work. Spahr, in her introduction to Looking Up Harryette Mullen, observes that historically, … Continue reading

Harryette Mullen

“The Eye and the Ear at Once”: Collapsing the Speakerly/Writerly Divide

As my last plateau suggests at its close, the collapsing of the divide between experimental and racialized writing is itself grounded in the collapse of the supposed divide between texts that privilege aurality and orality (what Mullen calls “speakerly” texts) and formally/visually experimental text (which she terms, following Roland Barthes, “writerly”). In “Poetry and Identity,” … Continue reading

Harryette Mullen

“Now you sound more like yourself”: Collapsing the Langpo/Black Arts Dualism

The description of Harryette Mullen’s work as avant-garde or experimental, or even as a part of the Language tradition, is necessarily fraught with complications. To begin with, the avant-garde designation tends to be treated as a pretty exclusive club; at times, this “club” metaphor becomes literal, as in the example of the Oulipo, which, as … Continue reading

Harryette Mullen

Recycled Aphasia: Non-exhaustive Readings of Harryette Mullen

I move in this next section of plateaus, from Juliana Spahr’s clear anarchist sympathies to the work of Harryette Mullen, who, while in no way anarchist herself, instead offers postanarchism a method of resistance tactic that is highly experimental and interested in the radical alternatives offered to readers and writers in and through language. The … Continue reading