Project Proposal

Project Description

I am proposing to complete the remaining (book length) sections of my work of poetry, Confiteor, a one thousand page project, and to teach a graduate seminar based on the sources, ideas, processes, and issues raised by its writing. This seminar would be a “heavy” practicum, a seminar resulting in student writing work combining creative and critical modes, rather than a creative writing workshop focused on student work or response alone. The topics of the work and seminar reverberate with the "institution-specific info] albeit obliquely. The topics also engage the specialties of scholars in the [institution] English / Literature, English / Creative Writing, Cultural Studies, Digital Arts, and Information Sciences departments.

With this application, I have enclosed the first three sections of Confiteor, a trilogy of poems entitled DaDaDa. It was published by Salt Publishing in 2003 and is distributed in the UK, North America, and Australia by them. I have also included the current version of the middle three sections of Confiteor, entitled OOD: Object-Oriented Design, which is currently under consideration. Parts of this volume have been published as chapbooks. I have begun publishing pieces from the final three-section volume, tentatively entitled All the Angels and Saints, in literary magazines, but I do not have the rough draft of the entire work I would expect to have by the time of the fellowship, nor do I have an outline of the final volume of Confiteor, entitled Addendum.

The published pieces from the remainder of the project include work written using common machine readers and voice recognition softwares, common desktop avatars, and instructional materials for reading, perception, writing, and business practices. Confiteor as a whole investigates the ideas of transgression, confession, and prayer through the practice of writing in the media age. The title is from the confessional in the Roman Catholic Church; the title of the section All the Angels and Saints is from the version used in the mass:

I confess to almighty God, and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned through my own fault in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done, and in what I have failed to do; and I ask blessed Mary, ever virgin, all the angels and saints, and you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God.

Accordingly, the work moves through historical works culminating in an investigation of confessional modes such as testimonials, advertisements/public relations, and poems and people as “prayers” or “ghosts” in the machinery of contemporary life. Confiteor opens with the first section of DaDaDa, “Reading Fundamentals,” poems which are essentially readings of canonical works, including the book length “Palm Anthology,” based on the Greek Anthology and written for personal digital assistant with wireless capability (my Palm Pilot VII). In the final phase of the project, canonical works are displayed as confessions to the community. While the second section, “Heresy” (on its own a finalist for the National Poetry Series) includes a woman’s epic, “In Medias Res,” written for MS PowerPoint to illustrate erasure, and other poems which transform women’s writings from the 13th to 16th centuries into personal, contemporary poems. This becomes, in All the Angels and Saints, an exploration of contemporary “nonliterary” women’s writings. The third section, “Legendary,” is hagiography for people (mostly women) in the applied arts and aesthetic crafts (decorators, designers).

OOD: Object-Oriented Design opens with “Edifice,” a series of poems which find sources in both literary writing (including the Roman Elegies) and aesthetic crafts and practices in order to create “an elaborate conceptual structure” around or covering the female body / open text / aporia. This becomes verse defining an “I” in the remainder of the project. OOD continues with “Acquisition,” poems focusing on forms of arts (ex., dance) and art objects. The poems begin “disintegrating” into accidents of format to reveal the binaries that underlie code and, perhaps, cultural constructs. “Objective,” the section which follows, expands upon the more incidental use of Boolean and other Modern Algebras in earlier sections by showing their relationships, as systems, to conceptualizations of cosmology and origin. Thus, the first trilogy is about reading and identity. The second is about text and origin. The third, part of the project I propose, is about writing and community. Addendum is prayer.

Confiteor, when complete, will be the first major long work of poetry written by a member of my cohort, poets under 40. As such, it is more “disposable,” mediated and about media, derived, and wide ranging than other major long works of poetry, and perhaps with something in common with works in other genres by younger writers -- novels and plays written by Thalia Field, Shelley Jackson, and Suzan-Lori Parks, and even post-Ackerian “chick lit” in this Bridget Jones era. Because I am an executive-level female technologist and a poet, my work is both similar to and utterly different than many other digital arts projects. My long poems (I am not proposing a project related to by short poems or essay reviews) don’t participate in the “poetry wars,” by being totally formal or totally experimental, in the way that many longer poetry works by older poets do.

As a major long work of poetry written by a contemporary woman, Confiteor will be compared and contrasted to works like those by Anne Carson, Rachel Blau DuPlessis, and Alice Notley, as well as shorter long works by Gertrude Schnackenberg and Stephanie Strickland. In fact, it is an investigation of these works, together with works by Pattie McCarthy and Cole Swensen with some content which overlaps mine, that give the seminar I propose its “meat.”


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