Blue Studios: Poetry and Its Cultural Work

Blue Studios: Poetry and Its Cultural Work

Blue Studios: Poetry and Its Cultural Work

Blue Studios: Poetry and Its Cultural Work

Excerpt

Blue means freshened, old-fashioned blueing in wash water; blue sky rounding from the horizon; blue evokes an ideal, like the famous Azure of symbolist poetics; blue is intense, the color of batik. Sometimes blue means moody, depressed, forsaken. A Blue Studio is a pensive work site where a new world is hoped and an old can interrupt this hope. Thus it is a place of conflict and cross motives. Blue Studio is particularly a metaphor for working through negativity, an idea that threads through this book. Most of the poets and works taken up here write from a horizon of hope—political hope, cultural hope, a sense of changed relations to the world—yet many also move into that space from a sense of desperation and desolation. This book creates a blue space for thinking about the terrain to traverse while watching a horizon for change. Blue Studios proposes cultural work that poetry does and could do and some work for a poet-critic, facing a practice involved with such a vulnerable mix of desolation and hope. Thus a Blue Studio takes its cue from Adorno, who rejects the purely “lamenting subject” and at the same time accepts that “there is no longer beauty or consolation except in the gaze falling on horror, withstanding it, and in unalleviated consciousness of negativity holding fast to the possibility of what is better” (Adorno 1974, 16, 25).

I started blue—as a Blau. This onomastic word offered me a talismanic color, and insofar as adults have such colors, it remains one. These essays negotiate a border between patriarchal culture and postpatriarchal culture— a utopian blueness in which the “blue” that is for “boys” crosses with my family name of origin. But I am torquing the male-coded “blue” in my processing of its cultural claims. During the twentieth century our families were, our cultures were, our nations were in considerable flux around gender . . .

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