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Suzanne Scanlon on Karen Green’s Bough Down

By Harriet Staff


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.


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.