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Suzanne Scanlon on Karen Green’s Bough Down

By Harriet Staff

Karen-Green-Bough-Down

Suzanne Scanlon posts a thought-provoking write-up about Karen Green’s Bough Down over at The Millions. Scanlon considers books about death, addresses grief as a concept that is separate from the identity of the person who is lost, and writes about the writer and artist—Karen Green’s—relationship with the person who is gone.

Shadows

1. The Paradox: I don’t want to discuss Karen Green’s Bough Down in the shadow of her husband’s death; if it is impossible not to, this condition replicates another mode of cultural violence, namely, subsuming a woman’s texts to her more famous, more serious, male writer counterpart.

2. Because Green’s book is an achievement in that it resists such closure — resists naming her dead husband, the author, or his texts — making him, instead, her own shadow figure, one haunting the text and her life endlessly.

3. And yet if Green refuses to name the Dead Author, I have yet to read a review of Bough Down that hasn’t named him, or, indeed, identified her as his widow. That this is inevitable does not make it less complicated. That Green, a visual artist, was a writer long before she met said husband, and certainly long before his death — and that this is the first we’ve heard from her — is no less insignificant. That her text, like her life, is marked by an awareness of suffering — loss, grief, psychic alienation — makes Bough Down, as excruciating as it is, if you are of a certain persuasion, which I’d argue we all are at one point or another, deeply satisfying.

Read more at The Millions.

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Posted in Poetry News on Thursday, August 22nd, 2013 by Harriet Staff.