In 2016, Lillian-Yvonne Bertram’s writing won the Narrative Poetry Contest. Bertram’s work is formally and thematically expansive and this sampling, called “Facts About Deer and Other Poems,” showcases her incredible range. In the poem “They were armed with long guns”—a poem written in ten parts—the sections move between lists, plain declarations like, “You know // where this / is going. This is // America,” and Bertram’s characteristically stunning descriptions, like when she says about the slant of light in a classroom, “It is fall // and the light from these windows behaves as / you’d expect: it rushes in. It strangles.”
Bertram teaches at The University of Massachusetts in Boston. Her first book, But a Storm is Blowing From Paradise (Red Hen Press, 2012), was selected by Claudia Rankine for the 2010 Benjamin Saltman Award. Personal Science, her third book of poems, was just released from Tupelo Press. She is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships. We caught up over email to talk about her new book, mentoring creative writing students, and the impact the NEA has had on her writing.
The very last installment in my commentary series for Jacket2 is a Google Map that includes photos and videos embedded in the plot points of Artaud’s biography, his performances, and his legacy. You can check it out here: http://jacket2.org/commentary/mapping-antonin-artaud.
Thanks to all the kind people at Jacket2 & especially Jessica Lowenthal. I’ll miss working on this project & it’s an honor to be a part of the Jacket2 tribe. This has been one of my dream publications for a long time. I’m so happy to have gotten to work with these folks.
My latest installment at Jacket2 tackles Artaud’s glossolalia in his translation of Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass: “By overwriting Carroll’s text with veritable nonsense, Artaud is inserting his own theory of neologisms. Artaud has spent most of his life trying to escape the strictures of reality as we understand it—reaching for an expression that is beyond language. Carroll’s text was the springboard for creating new words that pointed nowhere and everywhere at once…” You can read the whole thing here.
There’s a new post up at Jacket2: “On his way back from Ireland in 1937, Artaud was put into a straight jacket. Once back on French soil, he was turned over to the authorities. This was the beginning of a nine-year stint in hospitals with Artaud in what biographer Martin Esslin called a ‘near-catatonic state.’”
“Artaud’s seminal theater text, The Theater and Its Double, took a long time to publish. Although the essays were composed between 1932 and 1935, the book didn’t appear until 1938, once Artaud had already been institutionalized. The inspirations for Artaud’s theory of performance, which he named the Theater of Cruelty, range from Lucas Van Leyden’s Lot and His Daughters to Balinese theater to the Marx Brothers. Artaud wanted to create an experience from ‘a kind of unique language half-way between gesture and thought.'”