TEXT & COMMUNITY 2000

 

 

Each year, the Text and Community Program conducts a semester-long project at George Mason University that seeks to foster exchanges across disciplines and interpretations of a text from multiple perspectives. Louise Glück's book-length lyric sequence, THE WILD IRIS, which won the Pulitzer Prize and The Poetry Society of America's William Carlos Williams Award in 1993, has been selected as the text for Text and Community for 2000. This book has been taught in the past in undergraduate classes at Mason with great success. Louise Glück will read on the Mason campus April 5, 2000 in the Johnson Center Cinema.

Glück, one of America's major poets, is the author of eight books of poetry, FIRSTBORN, THE HOUSE ON MARSHLAND, DESCENDING FIGURE, THE TRIUMPH OF ACHILLES, ARARAT, THE WILD IRIS, THE FIRST FOUR BOOKS OF POETRY, MEADOWLANDS, and VITA NOVA, and a work of prose, PROOFS AND THEORIES: ESSAYS ON POETRY. Louise Glück has received the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry, and the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for Nonfiction. She teaches at Williams College.

The book is a series of poems in the voices of a gardener, a sky-god figure, and, amazingly, the garden itself. The voices in counterpoint investigate the nature and boundaries of the self, the constructedness of that self or selves, the self in relationship to the mythic and to the world, what passion is and what it has to do with intellect. Finally, all these investigations are measured against the ultimate deadline. This is the sort of thing that eighteen to twenty-two year olds are crazy about and our older students are wise about; the conversation between and among them makes for a lively and enriching class for all of us.

The jacket copy might give you a sense of book's ambition: "...ecstatic imagination supplants both empiricism and tradition, creating an impassioned polyphonic exchange among the god who "disclose[s]/ virtually nothing," human beings who "leave/ signs of feeling/ everywhere," and a garden where "whatever/ returns from oblivion returns/ to find a voice." The poems in this sequence see beyond mortality, the bitter discovery on which individuality depends. "To be one thing/ is to be next to nothing," Gluck challenges the reader. "Is it enough/ only to look inward?"

   


Text and Community is a program of the English Department at George Mason University. Text and Community web site is sponsored and created by the New Media Group in English.