Monday, April 12, 2021

Please come to my talk on Hejinian, Carson and Kapil this THURSDAY 15 April 2021 at 10h30-12h


I would like to invite you to come hear me speak as part of the Colors and Cultures conference (about how different groups perceive, write about, think about color, etc.) I will be presenting “The Dissenting RED Self in Lyn Hejinian’s Tribunal and Anne Carson’s Autobiography of Red” during session 19 "SEEING RED" thursday the 15th at 10h30-12h France time via ZOOM--This talk will be focusing on Lyn Hejinian, Anne Carson (with some remarks also on Bhanu Kapil, too). Abstract below. 

Full conference schedule, abstracts of all talks, sign ups, etc are available at:

To attend, please If you’d like to be in our on-line audience, please send Charlaine Ostmann your email and your university affiliation in order to get a ZOOM invitation for all of our sessions:
charlaine [dot] ostmann [at] uha [dot] fr: This information on registering is available on the website as well.

The dissenting RED self in Lyn Hejinian’s Tribunal and Anne Carson’s Autobiography of Red

 Jennifer K Dick (MdC, UHA)

“A Human of Mars” in Lyn Hejinian’s Tribunal (Omnidawn, 2019) opens “I am a human in the absence of others of a yet better red.”(11) while the central story in Anne Carson’s Autobiography of Red (Cape Poetry, 1999) begins in a world described as made of “red dirt” where the character, Geryon, is overwhelmed going to school on his first day: “Children poured around him and the intolerable red assault of grass and the smell of grass everywhere/ was pulling him towards it…”(23) “He stood on his small red shadow and thought what to do next.” (24)

This talk will explore the what next? behind these two author’s uses of red. Red of rage, of rebel, of alien, of liquid earth or of foreign planet Mars—red provides color-based symbolic ramifications for the definition of an alternate, radical self-identity. Both poetry collections center around a novel-like anti-hero/underdog character pondering “The riddle [that] persists: who am I?”(23). They navigate complex interrogations of interior and exterior worlds as their existence is entirely defined by “red”—the color of “dissent”, of “fire” for Hejinian’s “alien” and Carson’s “monstrous” Geryon (based on the Greek story of Herakles who heroically slayed him for his red cattle but who may also be, in her work, a phoenix-like immortal Yazcamac.) Red remains connected to its traditional symbolisms (rage, violence, desire, flesh, blood, love and Marxist politics). Yet in these works red is most significantly related to transformation—a red, deep fire, the life-force of lava, the earth’s center bubbling out to form new land, at once a destructive and constructive force. Red, as used in these texts, provides readers with a red-eye, perhaps even blinding, photo-flash reflection of an alternative self, one which is anti-binary, molten, other, as Hejinian’s “Human of Mars” states: “I depart, separating from myself and become a red image of it” (23) In the end these characters are “a drop of gold…molten matter returned from the core of the earth to tell you [show us] interior things” (59).

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