A n n e W a l d m a n : K e e p i n g T h e W o r l d S a f e F o r P o e t r y
N a p a l m H e a l t h S p a : R e p o r t 2 0 1 5 : S p e c i a l E d i t i o n
RACHEL BLAU DUPLESSIS
Anne Waldman: Standing Corporeally in One’s Time
Ab Ioue principium Musae; Iouis omnia plena;
ille colit terras, illi mea carmina curae.
Virgil, Eclogue 3
Muses, my song begins in praise of Jove.
He makes all flourish; my song is in his care.
David Ferry, translation
All is full of Jove.
Waldman, from Virgil, Eclogue 3.
Ernst Bloch wrote about modernity, “one has one’s time according to where one
stands corporeally.” This is a materialist position about standing in the now.
Waldman extends this “now,” as a global citizen in the name of possibility. She
generates hope for a “new time” in glimmers, in her artwork, her manifesto-like
performances: “an antithesis to bald commercialism, selfishness, spiritual vacuity,
political advantage, double-dealing, lying, dishonesty” and so on — as she says in her
mini-essay about the Beats in Iovis II (143). In this she has consciously assumed the
“King of the May” mantle from Allen Ginsberg. Waldman generates event, conscience
and a sense of possibility by her presence.
Anne Waldman’s work in poetry exists at the intersection of activist passion
gender critique and wariness, and long poem ambitions. She is at root inspired by an
Olsonic ambition to speak the whole social fabric as an incantatory, analytic cantor in
shamanic voice. She is someone who can inhabit her own culture and play among a
multiple of global sites with Blakean transformative lust. She calls us to account
whenever she takes the witness stand: “Will some future generation look upon the
ravages of the planet and the perpetuation of suffering by the powerful over the weak as
a Second Holocaust? And see that no one attempted to stop the madness?”  Thus she
stands corporeally in her time, in Ernst Bloch’s phrase. Many of her poetic works
present illuminating political outrage about the continuing crisis of failed social justice
across the world. She flays power with words, ignoring or disdaining voices that say
such gestures are impossible. To Waldman one could apply the comment Charles Olson
made about Pound: “[Pound] would be the first to stake his work as social in
consequence. He is no poet to separate his poetry from society.” Waldman tells us
repeatedly and vividly that although we live in a modernity inflected by global
oppressions, we nonetheless have the potential for global transformation.
Part of Waldman’s political citizenship involves a specific kind of gender outcry
and analysis. We can discuss this once we acknowledge that writing is not ever a
gender-neutral site. Waldman tries to place herself corporeally into gender materials and
relationships, and, in her long poem (among other works), she investigates the damage
and attraction of the gender sites we know. To the avant-garde, many feminisms have
been inadequately mobile, uninterested in merriness, multiplicity of means, and
chiaroscuro, too wedded to a monochromatic representation of the world of gender, too
clear about univocal critiques and desires for healing or wholeness, too willing to buy a
piece of power, or to engage in mono-dimensional naming rather than creating fissure
On the other hand, since there are socio-political griefs in the world that must be
addressed, to some feminists, the texture-oriented and performative avant-gardes have
been inadequately materialist in their understandings of these griefs and urgencies.
Could a feminist poetics of innovation make some dynamic syntheses of the politics and
aesthetics surrounding gender questions? Some women contemporaries have confronted
this seam between politics and the aesthetic with their long poems. Iovis is Anne
Waldman’s intervention into this debate, a poetic analysis concerning patriarchy,
subservience, psychic and spiritual struggle. The form this takes in Iovis I is an
investigation of maleness as an idea and set of subjectivities in culture, politics,
psychology and religion.
To make this investigation means experimenting with the means of investigating.
Who speaks? How will “data” be accumulated? What does judgment portend? What
happens when love and criticism collide? What subjectivity and what text can a speaker
create? What questions are there that necessitate this work? There have been several
theoretical discussions of a female subjectivity adequate to rewrite culture; these in
themselves offer enough claims and cross-claims to attract and trouble any female
writer, and one could well find evidence of each and all (“both-both”) in Waldman’s
Iovis (Iovis I, 2). One may call upon the new female feminist subject (in Rosi Braidotti’s
terms) or try to negotiate the wilds of a new heterogeneity (as does Luce Irigaray) — in
the name of really achieving two sexes in dialogue, not just one. A person might find the
idea of “writing the body” put forth by Hélène Cixous particularly liberating for women
whose “bodies” have been so trashed or iconized in ideology as to be unrecognizable,
and whose corporeal/ intellectual bearing needs to be reseen as Waldman might, as “a
construct of multiple meanings, like a multifaceted jewel....” One may even continue
to find that Jungian ahistorical frameworks have explanatory power, for those terms may
function as compelling metaphors and as mythically-connected names for one’s various
subject positions, such as hag or puer. Waldman is frank about her allegiance to Jungian
archetypes, noting certain benchmarks, for instance, her “‘Puer’ dreams. “This possible,
too, as she ages, having shed seductive submissive ingenue” (Iovis I, 177).
have all lived in an era of the newly elaborated notion of the “feminine.”
In post-structuralist and post-modern thought, the feminine is defined as free-floating
resistance, as excess, the outside, the beyond, the ahistorical, non-symbolic otherness.
This concept of the feminine is, in theory, unattached to gendered bodies — yet
nonethless the male feminine is particularly powerful, as in Roland Barthes or Algernon
Swinburne. There is also queered subjectivity that takes binarist gender (and its ideas) as
moot, finished, untenable and untrue, and tries to imagine it is living in a world that has
transcended these elements. To construct her speaking subjectivity, Waldman seems to
have drawn, ad lib. and variously, on a mix of those propositions from feminist
theorizing, but she has also declared, with this poem, the space of the female masculine, a
performative incorporative masculinity inside a female body.
However, unlike the “female masculinity” studied by Judith [aka Jack]
Halberstam, with its emphasis on butch and drag king behaviors or performances,
Waldman always insists on feminine panache. Halberstam indicates that this taxonomy is
incomplete: “the more we identify thevarious forms of female masculinity, the more they
multiply” (Halberstam 46); Waldman is certainly one of the exemplars of female
masculinity. Indeed, Waldman might be closest in her ferocity, performativity, and
aggressions to the picture Michael Davidson draws of Sylvia Plath in Guys Like Us, with
those “self-conscious assaults on gender binarism” (Davidson 160) by someone who will
“interrogate masculine aspirations from within a speaker who embodies many of those
aspirations” (Davidson 170).
Waldman, like Alice Notley and other women loosely in the avant-garde and not
in the women’s poetry movement (as it centered its canon of interests in the mid-70s
through mid-late 80s), was very resistant to any victimization theorizing and against any
sense that women have little or no agency. For them, early feminist critiques had a hard
time not sounding like self-pity. This (supposedly) in a belated replay of Woolf’s Lily
Briscoe’s angry, poignant remarks, as if they were constantly saying “women can’t
write; women can’t assert.” Feminist thinking seemed, to these listeners, like an
affirmation of disabilities, when it was, instead, trying to encounter and name the gender
assumptions, the taboos buried in culture and in internalized/ externalized values that
blocked female striving. Indeed, as Ann Snitow and I argued in our introduction to The
Feminist Memoir Project, any “victim status” thinking was viewed, in early second
wave feminism, as a naming of a thankfully temporary female condition, a condition
soon to be rendered obsolete by the intensities and gains of feminist politics. Such terms
were not meant to offer frozen and undialectical analysis. But despite having some
common concerns, the two poetic worlds in which women were active did not meet or
For at the same time, another aspect of early feminism was a stirring affirmation
of female power and transcendence. Waldman’s Fast Talking Woman (1974) was a
performance of assertive female power contemporaneous with semi-canonical works
like Ntozake Shange’s performance piece for colored girls who have considered suicide
/ when the rainbow is enuf (1975) and works taken as belonging to a lesbian-separatist
(or gay-focused) world, such as Judy Grahn’s A Woman Is Talking to Death (1973). It is
also true that in feminism’s effort to bring women up to scrutiny, men and maleness
were sometimes treated as a backboard, as hypostasized, and even distasteful, objects,
not as mobile, in-process subjectivities, albeit ones with certain guarantees — or at least
many redeemable chits — of social power. Certainly Iovis responds transformatively to
this set of materials. Thus Waldman may have been notably ambivalent to the women’s
poetry movement in certain of its manifestations, yet she also drew, sub rosa, on its
feminist intellectual and cultural energies to confirm and extend her own evident
Such writers as Waldman, active in Doing and Making (scenes, magazines,
presses, work) felt they had disproved, by their own agency and bohemian élan, some of
the claims made in other poetic circles of female powerlessness to be cured by
allegiance to all-women communities. So these writers had a strong resistance to, and
even some frank contempt for feminism as a movement, something visible in Notley’s
Mysteries of Small Houses, for example, in which small-mindedness is displayed on
both sides in the debate about “men.” The Women of St. Mark’s thought their own life
histories and productivity rendered irrelevant or moot the questions of access,
representation, canonicity, and literary history that feminists raised. And this resistance
continued despite the capacity of both sets of cultural workers to commit, or to
construct, polemical “women’s” poems. Waldman’s recent poem “Abortion,” a simple
poem of political outrage, uses the jeremiad genre to turn any accusation of a crime by
women outward to speak of crimes (rape, patriarchal control) committed against women.
In style, tone, and purpose, as an instrumental intervention, this poem could have
appeared in This Bridge Called My Back. And this apparent resistance to feminism
among the Women of St. Mark's continued despite the capacity of both sets of cultural
workers to construct major critiques of gender and the social order, on the scale, for
example, of Alice Notley’s major mythopoetic intervention, The Descent of Alette, a
magisterial feminist work, making a critique of patriarchy and tyranny and of the
internalized consciousness and external society that supports these forms of social
control. This resistance has modified itself considerably even since this essay was first
composed in 2002.
Waldman’s position can be framed with Denise Riley’s insight — one wants to
see gender, talk about gender, work through gender, transfigure gender, organize
thinking to consider gender — and also wants sometimes to get beyond any such
category. Who could deny this? Certainly not me. Denise Riley says about the female
situation at the end of her book “Am I That Name?”: “while it’s impossible to
thoroughly be a woman, it’s also impossible never to be one” (Riley 114). It is just a
step to translate Riley’s formulation in this way, a way I enjoy: “while it’s impossible
thoroughly to be a feminist, it’s also impossible never to be one.” For whatever the
unevenness of approaches to feminism in this period (and there were plenty), from a
historical point of view all the sectors of women writing were inflected with, touched by
that particular “angel of history” (to tease Walter Benjamin), and touched with all due
ambivalence and wariness, by its contradictory guises of positive assertion and negative
skepticism and resistance.
All female poets of the avant-garde (and always some male poets, too) had to —
were compelled to — come to terms with the power of feminist cultural and political
challenges. All women writers, whether they did this consciously, or willingly, or not,
were saturated with feminist questions, feminist demands, its cultural critique and its
ferocity. The evidence is in their work and in the growing importance of feminist
reception or gender analyses to the careers of women experimental writers — even if the
writers themselves had ambivalent or resistant relationships to feminism, or to the
women’s poetry movement (which does not, and should not be the only container of
In this, I would agree with the strategic formulation proposed by Steve Evans: it is
vital to keep in play feminism and avant-gardism together in order to avoid the sharply
articulated culs-de-sac he lucidly details: an avant-garde poetry without a sense of
gender (or other vital social locations and materials), a theoretical post-structuralism
without any sense of contemporary poetry and its practices, and a feminist
institutionalizing of a single poetics. This essay, too, attempts to avoid “an avant-garde
without women, a poetics without poetry, and a poetry for which entire registers of
experience, innovation, and reflexivity are taboo” (Evans, differences ii).
For wherever one began in relation to writing, to call for, to notice, to comment
upon the productive and compromised presence of women artists and writers, indeed, to
be one of those writers, has entailed a negotiation (sooner or later) with the feminism of
cultural critique, whether this critique features equality or difference (the great dialectic
of feminist thinking) or tacks strategically between these. For it was feminist cultural
criticism (including lesbian and black-feminist cultural criticism) that articulated and
foregrounded the roles that gender plays in culture — in the production, dissemination,
reception, and continuance of artists and texts. And feminist analysis really wanted —
still wants — to change culture fundamentally. Thus while women’s writing is not
particularly self-similar at the point of production, there may be strategies and motifs
related to the female position in culture that can be found in it. And women’s writing
becomes rather similar at the point of reception, so to speak — because (without
intentional, subtle and concerted feminist reception) it is similarly treated by “the
patriarchal government of poetry,” to cite Clayton Eshleman’s phrase in Companion
Spider. It is for these reasons that the care and maintenance of feminist — socially
located — reception has been my concern, and not the demand that people from certain
groups write a certain way, nor that they attend only to certain materials or themes or
modes of representation, nor the argument that certain themes and stances are essentially
(rather than situationally) expressive of their social location.
However, feminist critique is not simply about gender, sexuality and ethnicity: it
is also a challenge to the split between thought and feeling; a critique of values of
profitability and wealth as social goods when in fact they create inequality, exploitation
and immiseration; it is a rejection of all the forces that create the disenfranchised. The
task of feminist critique is the pluri-decentering of binarism and the smashing of
hierarchy. It is a critique of power in the names of social justice and gender justice. The
task involves standing corporeally within gender structures and other structures of
oppression to break down these enormous pillars of patriarchal culture so that something
new can be built as one is leveraging critique. So the feminism of critique is based on
inquiry, resistance, disobedience, rage, and on placing yourself as if in utopian new time.
It is in this enlarged sense that Waldman speaks in Iovis, a poem of feminist investigation
and critique from “an oppositional poetics” (Iovis I, 298). Iovis is “a long piece which
‘took on’ male energy in all of its manifestations” — in the lives of the men around her,
and in herself as bearer and critic of male energy.
What is “a woman” but a person mainly gendered female whose subjectivities and
masks may be far from female — may be boy, male lesbian, female masculine, queer. A
woman is a person human and parallel to a man; a person some of whose experiences are
different from a man’s; a person socialized to the pleasures and temptations of dress-up
femininity; a person intrigued by the mythic claim to otherness in the (so called)
“feminine” space of language. Thus any woman in Iovis may be called polygynous —
she has “married” many women, many meanings of woman and women, many meanings
of man and men in a rapturous textual space. She is also investigative — like a detective
— she wants to find out about power, and thus again she must examine men and
maleness. She wants to tell her truth. Waldman’s poetics of gender is put forth in
“FEMINAFESTO” from Kill or Cure. She says: “I’d like here to declare an enlightened
poetics, an androgynous poetics, a poetics defined by your primal energy... a transsexual
literature, a hermaphrodite literature, a transvestite literature, and finally a poetics of
transformation beyond gender. That just sings its wisdom” (145). It is clear that Waldman
has some proto-queer ideas about how one’s subjectivity is performative, how
subjectivity does not necessarily go with body. The poem is like Blake’s demonic
printing presses coining new gender-money. Male-female — hermetic bisexual
hermaphrodite or androgynous twins seems to be the plan for Iovis I, II.
There are several versions of female subjectivity and social position in much
feminist or proto-feminist thinking about women in this period, and the fact that these
positions are in contradiction does not make them any less important, influential,
powerful, or palpably generative. The positions are female equality, female difference,
and [female] queerness. For instance, the second book of Iovis (Iovis II, 142-146)
contains an important 1994 epistolary essay about the place of women among the Beats,
an essay that opens the question of female difference in historical power and position. At
one and the same time, the essay defends the Beats for their achievements and
acknowledges what Waldman names their “sexism” and “racism” and their “fear of
In the course of this letter, Waldman discusses the very narrow options for women
in the 1950s if you were at all “strange,” artistic or bohemian: madness and shock
treatments, abortion and physical terror of illegality and, if you were really unlucky,
infertility or even death, and/ or suicide attempts from sheer nihilistic pain of non-
conformity. (Sylvia Plath also discusses some of this in another register in her novel The
Bell Jar). This section acknowledges a specificity of female cultural history (that is,
female difference at a certain time and place), and puts in evidence an interview with
Joanne Kyger that even somewhat undercuts her Beat-analysis, and indeed, puts in her
headnote her own resistance to what she said: “sleepless, she rises once again to be an
apologist for the macho Beat Literary Movement” ([Iovis II, 134], suggesting a shift in
her own upbeat attitudes between 1994 and 1996/97). In the important essay called “‘I is
Another’: Dissipative Structures,” Waldman speaks for “feminine energy.” This seems to
be a position for female equality as in “I am, as a woman, adequate, capable, inspired, in
readiness, as good as anyone” (Kill or Cure 212).
This position is verified by Waldman’s inclusion in this essay of her poem
claiming her birth as a performative poet from the Zeusian head of Charles Olson during
the 1965 Berkeley Poetry Conference (Kill or Cure 209). Waldman was present at the
conference in which the Olsonic genre of performance, crossing essay, poem, chant, and
declaration was particularly rich and provocative/ provoking. Iovis as a powerful male
figure is a substitute Maximus, and Waldman deploys herself in ways like Olson and in
ways like a critique of Olson as a figure. In part from Olson and others, the poem deploys
tactics of heterogeneity of diction and allusion, and an enhanced textuality as the page of
poetry holds more than usual — more space, marks, non-letters, pictures, gestures,
diagrams. There is a heterogeneity of dissemination practices, too, that have one point of
origin in Olson, with a strong emphasis on performance and poetic drama and a
renovation of sound and the ear as means of poetic fabrication. The Olsonic impulse also
enters with the “realism” of this poem in its documentary fervor.
However, “Feminafesto” also wants to claim female difference in ways that
absolutely parallel claims from the center of the women’s poetry movement. Mythic
allusions, ancient wisdom’s special functions for female are accepted as such, taken as
compelling and applicable contemporary information — as the end of this essay in “Gaia
worship” (Kill or Cure 212-13). And the essay also proposes an uncanonical female
genealogy of poets, tracing her own poetic lineage to Sappho’s singing school and its
basis in ritual (Kill or Cure 194-198). Waldman’s wobbling contradictions between
female equality claims and female difference claims are very situational, not at all self
consistent. They are even opportunistic. This does not differentiate her from many other
women in culture. One seizes the means that are to hand; “skillful means” (a Waldman
phrase out of Buddhism) implies the analysis of situation and applying the right “nom de
guerre” to triumph. So Waldman’s position shifts in thesis-antithesis between equality
and difference claims — this undecidability and situated analysis is in fact characteristic
of much feminist thinking. It is this that enables the great power grab made by Waldman
in Iovis: “Jove or Zeus or any procreative male deity is presumably filling up the
phenomenal world with his sperm. He rules through possession, rape, and through the
skillful means of the shape-shifter as well. From the psychological point of view (as a
‘daughter’), I need to call him out, reveal him, challenge him, steal his secrets” (Kill or
Given that Iovis I opens — opens! with a citation from the famous so-called
“Christological” passage from Second Isaiah: 52-53 about the man of sorrows, the claim
Waldman immediately makes concerns female messianism (5), something one also sees
in the great Victorian novel in verse by Barrett Browning, Aurora Leigh. The proposition
is — when you want world-historical and ethical transformation, a woman shall lead
them. This boldness does not stop, nor does the syncretic religious impulse falter; just a
few pages later, the speaker imagines herself inseminated by Jove (Iovis I, 7). A world
cultural arc is evoked; Hindu and Buddhist tropes and mythologies will soon be engaged.
This is a mythic-synthetic imagination at work, incorporative and “Golden Bough”-ish —
but trying to re-torque mythology to discuss gender transformation. Thus one element of
this work is its revisionary mythopoetic quality — an element significant to works of the
women’s poetry movement (like Rich’s Diving into the Wreck), but also worked through
in modernist mythic imaginations. In H.D.’s Trilogy, Christian mother Mary becomes a
fertility goddess; in Helen in Egypt, H.D. examines the roots of bellicose violence as a
repression of the passionate attraction to the mother, feelings of matri-sexual import.
Waldman particularizes these forces contributing to female power and sexuality with
letters and interviews to her specific, local family — her father, her childhood (Iovis I,
In the Allen Ginsberg (“Howl”) and Allen Grossman (Summa Lyrica) narratives
of poetic possibility, the Oedipal fantasy of being in the bed of the mother recurs for the
male poet. This tenderness and hotness around incestuous fantasies is also visible in some
work of Robert Creeley. One may have to confront a parallel? similar? or different?
psycho-biography in Waldman. She claims the desire for the father, the freshness of the
oedipal girl, the play with and through incest with a brother. Waldman makes the Jungian
claim of archetypal repetition and offers a marital vow to these brothers and father, “I
honor & obey these first men in my life...” (Iovis I, 14), and she immediately writes a
primary sex act that inseminates her with the ambition to accomplish this poem, “It feels
like the great sperm whale entered me” (Iovis I, 20).
However, insemination as one male act is not even half of the “it” that will be this
poem. The poem proposes allegorized interactions with men that attempts to diagnose
them by revealing their potency — even through their weakness and fallibility, their
losses, their self-deceptions, their assumptions. Waldman constructs the poem as a force
field for gender, and what one quickly finds is that gender involves everything there is —
school, children’s games, war, Rocky Flats, random sex, old poems by Pound and
Williams (or remakes of those hits), concepts like beauty, goodness, justice, the
destruction of forests for “Happy Meal boxes” (Iovis I, 274). As Myra Jehlen notably
argued in general about writing, “gender has emerged as a problem [an issue] that is
always implicit in any literary work,” implicit in every cultural act. We pass to
needy, whining, men; we pass to male civilization giving benefits to men in great
productive washes of power, and civilization hurting men, sacrificing them constantly (as
in war). The speaker negotiates this influx and wash of contradictory material and
findings constantly through the poem. This is her “both-both” poetics at work.
Narratively, she, in her own oedipal desire for the father, and/ or the power of the father
and/ or the phallus of the male, also, at the same time, negotiates the oedipal urgency of
her son (“You are my wife Mommy you are the dream of me” [Iovis I, 25]). Simultaneity
of conflicting transformations involve both underlying method and specific rhetorical
techniques. The poem seems to be the collection of materials put, in each section, into a
rhetorical swirl calling for metamorphosis.
Section XIII of Iovis I offers the term Aetiological (etiology): a medical study of
the causes, origins of, reasons for a disease. Etymologically speaking, it is an allotting of
responsibility. This is the key word for the diagnostic element of Waldman’s epic. She
will study causes and rationales of patriarchy especially in the cultural field, but also in
the political, military, spiritual; she will assign responsibility; she will analyze and
implicate — and imprecate! There are multiple “plots” — but one plot is weaning herself
from Jove. She rehearses her own history, saying that she “stuck by her patriarchal male
companions” and was their “trusted confidante,” but, alas, the power she got was an
illusion, and she must thus confront the Jovian patriarchal center — no individual man
can help you negotiate patriarchy (Iovis I, 143).
This is a pretty stark and bold position, one that makes a feminist separation of
blessed or helpful individuals from any patriarchal system as a cultural artifact. The
individuals are men (and sometimes women) who never (or rarely) think they participate
in the powers and privileges of this system. There is a resemblance, in a different poetic
register, between this finding and Alice Notley’s structuring of The Descent of Alette
around two key actions: the mid-book healing of the headless Mother (by the affirmation
of female intelligent compassion and by the application of male blood given by a dead
man) and, the climatic action in Notley’s book, the killing of the patriarchal Tyrant, who
oppresses male and female both.
In Iovis, there is an ongoing discussion of several contemporary men, among them
Robert Creeley and John Cage. Waldman asks what possibilities they model, and whether
(discussing John Waldman, her own father), a woman in the “daughter” position finds it
is plausible, easy, reasonable, or perhaps forbidden to “inherit” from these men. The
question of inheritance is offered in its most condensed form in a play with French
gender (Iovis I, 193): “(père et son fille) / sa fille.” Waldman has an acute and observant
sense of genealogy, and filiations. This bearing is not innocent: she will write herself into
history as the daughtered son, or the sonned-daughter of a great male figure. There are
different Waldman attitudes in this work: she is motivated to play the game of patriarchy
accurately and with finesse, but she also diagnosis its ills with resistance and suspicion.
Her brilliant performance piece in homage to John Cage, the penultimate canto in Iovis I,
memorializes an artist who is gentle, active, inventive, and productive, allowing her to
affirm androgyny because of his (Iovis I, 309). In general, in this poem-long diagnosis,
“She rides through the poem on / villains, brothers, saints, deities / they speed her on”
(Iovis I, 333).
The astonishing Kristin Prevallet letter in Iovis II (36-37) discusses Creeley,
female writers, and the beginning of female cultural consciousness, dramatically showing
the recurrence of issues and problems relating to female creativity in a new generation.
Iovis thus, in its own way, continually proposes the necessity for feminist or gender
oriented analyses of culture.In this letter Prevallet challenges and admires Waldman in
equal measure, wondering precisely how she survived as a female writer:
Interestingly enough, Creeley asked the class today [circa 1992] if
anybody knew of anyone who was attempting to write an epic on the scale
of Olson, and people mumbled this and that, and I said, but of course,
A.W. [Anne Waldman] and Creeley disagreed with me, and I still find it
strange, not on the basis of writing/ poetic skill etc., but EGO! What he
meant is that your work is more personal in that you bring in letters,
stories about your child, emotional instances, etc. (although admittedly,
the boundaries get very shifty here — I mean Olson’s persona was huge
and was personal) So I was thinking what was at stake here was not ego
but gender, and I wonder how you felt about it. (Iovis II, 36)
She continues, noting that people do not complain about male EGO,
Well, I am very confused about the whole thing because I am being
confronted with the problem — to be forward, or to hang back — to
perform or to whisper — to vanish or to shine forth.... And [speaking
about another incident] I know this is only the beginning of similar kinds
of interactions, where I speak my mind and get my hand slapped
afterward, like I did something BAD, or even worse.... (Iovis II, 37)
Despite the examples of strong women writers in the generation before hers
(Kathleen Fraser is also mentioned in this letter), here again a woman writer presents
these recurrent questions: may a woman have EGO as an artist, who is it that allows her,
what is the price of her engagements, and what are the internalized and exterior costs and
even punishments that a woman writer risks. These are thoroughly feminist questions.
One way Waldman solves these cultural problems of access for women is by
assuming that her subjectivity is not just female, but is also male. “Both-both,” again. The
subjectivity of the work Iovis speaks in response to Jove as shape-shifter; she makes
herself Puer (boy or youth) as shape shifter or trickster figure (“Puer, picaresque
adventurer,” she says [Kill or Cure 144]). She conjures this figure, holding the mother at
bay (Iovis I, 177). Being a puer figure leads her to the incisive command: “rise up
paginal” (Iovis I, 187). Rise up meaning, appear, be prominent, increase in intensity,
return to, or get erect. This “paginal” I also read as like a page or boy helper figure. As a
pun on vaginal, as if the vagina could, with penile panache, erect. Finally, the adjective
pertains to the pages of a book. Thus when things rise up paginal, they constitute a male
vagina of the book, or a bisexualized, self-inseminating vagina-penis composite. Which is
what this book is — an active vaginal space in which sperm-words of oneself and others
enter and inseminate. So there are always two genders (at least) on this page. Self
consciously and consistently making the claim of dual genders also at the same time
confuses and transcends the issue of gender totally (which means a queered sensibility is
also in play).
To appreciate the genders, we need to take seriously Waldman’s playful and
serious claim, made sometimes but not always, that she dis-identifies with her own
gender, or certainly with its disabilities. This is both a dangerous and an entrancing,
enchanting position. Her analysis is keen. Patriarchy says only itself and its men can be
promiscuous, adventurous, far-ranging, seeking, piratical (that last, a Kathy Acker subject
position) (Iovis I, 107-08). Patriarchy says females must be loyal and relatively meek.
Waldman sweeps this demand for femininity and mildness away. But holding the mother
at bay or “scorning the mother” is a problematic position, given that one is also a mother
and a female (this in Iovis I, 177-187). “Scorn for women” — something well-known
from the first Futurist manifesto — is like playing with fire. Does this mean scorn for the
parasitic, feminine, the enforcer of bourgeois social norms? If so, then scorn seems like
an appropriate response, one often made by feminists. But if this means scorn for the
whole female gender as an entity, such “scorn” is unalloyed misogyny. However, this
position is not consistent, for in the essay “Feminafesto,” Waldman speaks of the mother
as model, suffering with unexpressed creativity that inspires her daughter’s oeuvre.
Her determination to persist as a thinking, creative woman, her resistance to
compromising her desires have their origin there.
As she gets older, Waldman also foregrounds the third phase of a Jungian triple
goddess — the “hag” archetype. This raging witch and speaker of curse and imprecation
is off the scale of binary gender, beyond the desire to please men or the more timid
women. Waldman finds these Jungian categories appeal to her; her revision of them lies
in claiming both puer [boy] and hag. This is a typical Waldmanian “greed,” as it sets her
as the gatherer of multiple forces, and the sustainer of these forces in contradiction. It is
clear that the struggles of gendered subjects are major struggles of loyalties and desires
inside the speaking subject. Whole dramas and allegories of gender unroll inside
Waldman as speaker no matter what subjectivity she assumes. That is why the genre
“encyclopedic poem” is prime; it is a genre of inclusion and juxtaposition adequate to the
matter at hand.
An encyclopedic poem is certainly heterogeneous in genre; and for Waldman one
might easily identify ode, newspaper clipping, epistle, conversation, jeremiad, interview,
documents, lyric, dream records, diatribes, arias, sestinas as among the genres included in
Iovis. Yet no matter how long the genre list, one can never account for all its genres.
Thus one point is the plethora or dynamism of her generic urges, which is a fact of many
(although not all) long poems in this period. Both Smaro Kamboureli (speaking about the
Canadian long poem) and Lynn Keller (for contemporary long poems by women) discuss
the 20th-century long poem in general as alluding to many genres — specific choices of
materials from epic, lyric and serial poem, narrative — and thus a flexible and ambitious
vehicle (Kamboureli, On the Edge of Genre; Keller in Parini, ed.; and Keller, Forms of
Expansion). The encyclopedic long poem clearly functions as such a flexible genre
compendium. As such a poem, Iovis is generically hybrid, polyphonic, intertextual,
conceptual — a pooling of documents and acts of analysis and outcry.
An encyclopedic poem is simply inclusive. Although encyclopedias are generally
organized by the alphabet, giving a non-teleological order to things, the encyclopedic
long poem insists that anything and everything could, in principle, be included in any
order, so it gives the feeling that no cultural censorship has taken place — no exclusions
for false norms, for standards of elegance or fitness. This aesthetic of inclusiveness is
certainly Waldman’s. When Waldman began Iovis in around 1985 or 1986, she
remembers “feeling for a time I needed a long poem.... I often tend to get a bit too
scattered... so the idea of putting all of the writing into one place, under one rubric, was a
relief! Anything that arose might go into that work....” (AWP Chronicle, 28.1 [Dec.
1995]: 1; “An Interview with Anne Waldman,” conducted by Lee Christopher). Waldman
thus uses the poem to account for motion, meaning both change or flux and teleology of
Unlike the analogous poems of Pound and Williams, this poem, according to
Waldman, “is 4-dimensional in its performance” — a way for Waldman to stand
corporeally with the work, and to some degree a way for her to modify, to cut or to
emphasize some of the materials in performance as a griot might. There is a sense that
this poem is a multi-act opera without one singular or particular narrative, but a magical
“Bollywood” production, incorporative, absorptive, dashing. This is her sense of
channeling energy, but it makes of “writing” a way-station or “go-between” to
performance. This has some real cost in word-to-word attention or carefulness. A more
static analogy for its form is a “temple” — one with pluralities, polytheisms, and a sense
that the sacred is everywhere.
This inclusivity does not necessarily have a master-subjectivity organizing it, as
one finds in Paterson, with the topos of the speaking subject wandering among, but not
totally participating in, his city. And Paterson, like Iovis, offers a community of voices
— wild, wary, hopeful, yearning, needy, dynamic, critical, responsive voices that are not
the poet’s voice. The use — part of her inclusivity — of letters and of some interview
exchanges are a feature of Iovis that tends to make subjectivity of the poet/ speaker a field
site of cross-hatching vectors. It is not that the subjectivity is decentered; it is that a
zillion demands pull and tug at her, and she attempts to satisfy all of them.
While I don’t want to romanticize female difference here, this dilemma of
overload takes on a particularly female cast. Kathleen Fraser in “Tradition of
Marginality” in her Translating the Unspeakable: Poetry and the Innovative Necessity
will sometimes note the female relations to life-issues that lead to a sense of difference,
and also refuse to romanticize that position, resisting the separatist. The demotic form of
the encyclopedia poem is the scrapbook. And the scrapbook is a domestic, artisanal,
hobby-horse genre. It is this version of the encyclopedic poem that Waldman has
Waldman uses the scrapbook-look of her page as a utopian space of “both-both”
attitudes — she can put things together in dynamic inclusivity because she will provide
the syntax of connection within her corporeal passions of performance (Iovis I, 2). “Both
both” is a brilliant formulation, rejecting as too binarist even the notion of “both-and.”
The page as score for a performance has a number of functions for Waldman. It is a place
to locate “other informations [that] weave in her” (Iovis I, 100) — that is, it is a holding
place, a site in which you collect things because you do not want them to get lost,
forgotten, obscured. This tremendous sense of the rescue of the lost marks particular
periods in writing — here it marks women’s writing, whether the work is by Adrienne
Rich or Susan Howe, and whether it investigates lost women only, or lost aspects of
history. (The critical recovery of African-American writing of the US past during this
period is a parallel example of the rescue of the lost.) Iovis is keen on this necessity; for
example, the poem collects her own principled political interventions, one of many letters
of protest that enter this text, for example, “I believe that Mr. wa Mulumba is a prisoner
of conscience” (Iovis I, 31).
Sometimes these materials will make faceted or nuanced our sense of “men” or
“malehood.” There are many letters included: a crackpot inventor offering his ideas to
women, not to men, and a winsome needy student waiting to be acolyte, epigone, and
above all recognized (Iovis I, 32-33) and a poignant letter about a young boy discovering
that he is gay (Iovis I, 54-56). Any few pages in this book run a wild tonal and
informational gamut that one might simply note as Waldman’s mode of “realism” — a
precise use of realism in poetry (very similar to what Olson and Williams did), both
trying to account for, to sound out what we are now by what has happened to a site
(maleness) in historical time. For this work, the page is a dynamic instrument, a
transformative forge in a Blakean sense.
Iovis is fundamentally a gigantic collage of materials located around issues for
meditation. Every section cuts down through a time, takes place in a transfigured locale
(sometimes a merging of geographical sites) that is essentially a meta-materialist space
for meditation, and works through — or at least locates — a problem or issue: “How to
change rhythms on a cellular level” (XI in Iovis I, 154) or in “Ambrose: Nam” (XIX in
Iovis II [Aside from being "man" spelled backwards, "nam," pronounced with the correct
tone, means "man" in Vietnamese]), “What did you see? he asks. What do I know?”
(Iovis I, 241) The “strands” of the poem “come together karmically” (Iovis I, 298). The
advantage of collage modes — the collection dragnet — is also its weakness, an
anything/ everything goes mentality; the poem is an extension of “catchall notebooks”
kept over many years (Waldman, AWP Chronicle interview, 4). Deploying an
encyclopedic poem, however, will always raise the possibility that there is just too much
heterogeneity and fragmentation.
Some of that heterogeneity is galvanized by the sometime evocation of the
manifesto genre; like “scrapbook,” this is another key long-poem genre allusion. For the
poem, like many specifically encyclopedic long poems (certainly like Pound’s Cantos)
has a manifesto impulse — the look of urgency on its page, the theatricality of now-time
in its gestures, the sense of speed, immediacy and even crisis are admixed with
rumination. The temporalities are mixed. A manifesto creates the sense that the “moment
of social transition” is happening there on the spot; that the poem is not the
representation, but the vehicle of this transformation, and that the poem as manifesto will
“mark the artistic praxis that will create that new world.”
If the page is, as I’ve said, also a score, then any page stands in a position of
conflict — it is a way-station on the way to something else (a performance), and it is a
place where things accumulate and get pieced together in the here and now. The page in
Iovis is a space of declarative urgency (the manifesto root), but it is never, or rarely, seen
as a place of poise, of stability, of the iconic. Indeed, Alice Notley points to the
documentary and autobiographical/ accumulative impulse behind Waldman’s work, with
some skepticism — the poem, she says, is going to be “what happens next,” but she
nonetheless suggests that while “the form makes flaws possible” still “possibly poetry
should make room for flaws, being a human form” (Notley, “Iovis,” 121, 126). Waldman,
inside her choices, justifies the looseness and assimilative flair of the work with a “Beat
Buddhist” (and incidentally Olsonic) aesthetic enunciated (Notley, “Iovis,” 128-29) as an
“energy pulse” — form is activity, form is energy. Form is choice on the run, is event,
not stasis, or reflective choice. “Rather than have the poem be an extrapolation, a refined
gist of a ‘high’ moment, I want it to be the experience... a poem that would include
everything and yet dwell in the interstices of imagination and action” (Waldman, AWP
Chronicle interview, 6). The poem — a Western poem of potential, subjectivity and
assertion — also tries to dramatize “the dynamic pratitya samutpada, the
interconnectedness of the whole ‘scene’” (Iovis II, 241). (This sometimes occurs in its
adolescent deformation: “Mom, you are so random,” as in Iovis II, 221.)
One may also see in Iovis its deep links to encyclopedic long poem projects by
Pound and Williams. In modern long poems like Paterson and the Cantos, there is a
strong component of diagnosis. With their pileup of evidence, the encyclopedism gives
the illusion (and it is an illusion really) that all elements of a given society and culture
have been covered. This contributes to the sense of totalizing of these poems even when
they have many loose ends. Further, such poems (and this is part of the pleasure) seem to
adumbrate in their field and polyvalent accumulations a new society, and a new and total
culture (as Pound once said). That is, the very form of the poem is a sociality and a hope
for social transformation. This is quite true of Waldman’s poem, although it is not clear
that she allows this form to argue for final or rested; in contrast, Notley’s The Descent of
Alette is very conscious of its ending: a secular vision based on the resurrection in the
flesh, of bodies emerging from the grave of the subway. In Notley’s vision, too,
everything is left to be done; there is no prescription for a new society. Such a society
will be built by the values learned in the struggle with the Tyrant. Waldman’s speaking
subject claims authority — but it is the authority of investigation — like a detective, a
follower of clues, an explorer, a discoverer. As I already noted, there is often a sense that
the subjectivity of the poem is on overload with the pressures and voices of all the others
she allows to speak forcefully in her text.
In his long poem, Pound’s subjectivity was the revealer of the hidden, occluded,
structures — it is the voice of someone who has uncovered a gigantic conspiracy and
does not doubt his findings, their importance, nor his unchangeable subject position as
catalyst case-manager. This is the ambition to speak the whole social fabric and articulate
root issues or problems that can be analyzed by means of the collage coupure and
engaged juxtapositions the poem provides. For Pound, the issue was economic deception
and degradation. He called this usury instead of capitalism; he became fixated on Jews as
history’s villains. Pound had a golden age vision with a sense of ultimate restoration of
that age with Mussolini. The Cantos were fundamentally traumatized by WWI and then
again by WWII. Pound offers political and historical materials (“tales of the tribe”); an
anthology boil-down — a summa of what’s really important; a declaration that the work
is not fiction (although presumably it is fictive), that is there’s real message, real
document in the work. This goal — that poetry should analyze, appreciate, explore what
is happening in the real world is vital to Waldman: “May it be her ultimate sirventes, that
old troubadour refrain of outrage toward a botched civilization” (Iovis II, 287) sums up
the Poundean motif, citing Pound’s “Hugh Selwyn Mauberley.” The encyclopedic poem
is evaluative and judgmental.
In Waldman’s Iovis scrapbook of array, as in Pound’s Cantos, or Williams’
Paterson, there are so many materials that the goal of judgment may seem implausible.
But it is a purpose central to the encyclopedic long poem. Judgment may occur in a
variety of ways. The paradox of Pound’s setting out the notes and glosses that constitute a
lot of the poem so that the reader can “draw his own conclusions” from the data — yet
the conclusions are predigested by Pound — it is one of those “fake” Socratic projects
that lead only to the conclusion the pedagogue proposes. Williams’ method of judgment
was a tactic of field composition that he called “rolling up,” so that great chunks of
material, as they crossed, could have one key idea extrapolated from them — such as
waste, or need for “marriage” — explorations of sexuality, or a sense of wonder amid the
Paterson is a somewhat more attractive poem (than Pound's) because of
Williams’ willingness to engage with criticism and doubts about the poem and the project
inside the very poem. Just like the fierce, lacerating letters from “Cress” in Paterson that
undermine the subjectivity of Paterson right where it really hurts — in his own self
justificatory gender narrative, so in Waldman’s poem, severe self-doubt enter and inflect
the project — a kind of “nekuia” moment, as in the epic plot, of a descent to the
underworld. The self-doubt is striking: coming “to rest with her box of scraps, notes,
journals, memorabilia, letters, unfinished versions, her major task continuing unsettled at
her feet. She spreads the documents about her, and bows her head. She feels a burden to
sustain the plan. The society is crumbling around her. She can barely withstand the daily
news” (Iovis I, 279). One section later, she feels marginalized within her own community
(Iovis I, 286). She incorporates the letter of a provocative, empathetic reader who calls
attention to the “transport” of the writing, the sense of riding the words, the issue that
language is often used instrumentally. This letter is, unlike the Cress letter, a mainly
appreciative note on her mediumship (“I see you as this kind of poet, who lets energy
flow through her, while you do your best to manifest the patterned energies you sense”
[Iovis I, 297]), but it pulls at her, as do all the letters — political, cracking up,
The ethnographic urge to take the measure of a specific culture is one of
Williams’ “contributions” to Waldman’s poem. Indeed, Waldman’s themes of the waste
of possibility and the pollution of democracy by profiteering, the creation of waste from
abundance, contemporary ecological destruction are close to Paterson; so too her use of
inserted letters to offer a sense of a community sounding, and filiations to other people.
The writer of Paterson emphatically proposes a male gendered and sexed subject position
for the speaker of the poem. (Pound does too, but Williams is more overt because less
universalizing.) But of course neither the Cantos nor Paterson revises maleness and its
cultural authority. The male subjectivity of these poems and of Olson’s is counterpoised
— consciously and with lacerating fervor — by Waldman’s parallel poem positing a
female/ androgynous subjectivity speaking the poem Iovis. Waldman has stood
corporeally against (and for) these magisterial works of modernism — continuing them
and criticizing them in one ambitious gesture.
[This paper was first given at the Anne Waldman Conference. 14-16 March 2002, Ann
Arbor, Michigan. Published, revised, as “Anne Waldman: Standing Corporeally in One’s Own
Time.” Jacket 27 http://www.jacketmagazine.com/27/index.html (Winter/Spring 2005). It was
subsequently published in Daniel Kane, ed. Don’t Ever Get Famous: Essays on New York Writing
after the New York School. Champaign: Ill.: Dalkey Archive Press, 2006: 173-194. Copyright
Rachel Blau DuPlessis, all rights reserved. The author regrets not being able fully to update this
essay to consider the full three volumes of IOVIS, although several verbal changes have been
made in this essay (in 2015).]
 “Women’s mobility is an important means through which the reconfigurations of the
modern female subject are textually represented: modern women may ‘move
dangerously,’ but their journeys situate women at the heart of modernity and remind us
that, as [Ernst] Bloch wrote, ‘one has one’s time according to where one stands
corporeally.’” This is cited from an article by Wendy Parkins, whose interest in women
defining modernity has been influenced by Rita Felski. Parkins (“Moving Dangerously:
Mobility and the Modern Woman, Tulsa Studies 20.1 [Spring 2001]: 77-92) herself cites
Ernst Bloch, “Nonsynchronism and the Obligation to Its Dialects (1932),” New German
Critique 11 (1977): 22.
 Anne Waldman, “Notes for a Public Forum,” 100 Days 30 April 2001, Barque Press,
2001: 133. Refers to the first 100 days of the Bush appointed-presidency.
 Charles Olson, in Catherine Seelye, ed. Charles Olson and Ezra Pound: An
Encounter at St. Elizabeths. New York: Paragon House, 1975: 17. Olson means this as
apart from “the vomit of his conclusions” (18).
 I am assimilating the terms merriness and chiaroscuro from Rosi Braidotti, Nomadic
Subjects: Embodiment and Sexual Difference in Contemporary Feminist Theory, New
York: Columbia University Press, 1994: 167.
 And another thing going on right now: over the past 25-35 years, a tremendous input
in women, of a variety of opinions, writing very long poems. Here is a partial list: Diane
DiPrima, Loba; Diane Wakoski, Greed; Bernadette Mayer, Midwinter Day; Sharon
Doubiago, Hard Country; Susan Howe, The Liberties; Judy Grahn, A Woman Is Talking
to Death; Beverly Dahlen, A Reading; Susan Griffin, Women and Nature: The Roaring
Inside Her; Alice Notley, The Descent of Alette; Lyn Hejinian, My Life (and Oxota);
Anne Waldman, Iovis; Harryette Mullen, Muse and Drudge; Rochelle Owens, Luca:
Discourse on Life and Death; Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Drafts.
 There is no doubt these works are linked. Notley’s thinking on epic, her narrative
strategies within the mythopoetic, her desire for a world-transformative analysis of
patriarchy links and interwines with Waldman’s thinking on epic, her encyclopedic
strategies for the mythopoetic, her analysis of patriarchy. Notley also produced a subtle,
apt, discerning, empathetic study of Iovis in Chicago Review. There is a further link, a
deep curiosity of literary history. Frances Boldereff, by the force of her enthusiasm and
knowledge, made Charles Olson look at Sumerian materials from Samuel Noah Kramer,
the great archeologist and historian. Some of that material involved Inanna, the mother
goddess epic, one of the great poems of world literature with a female quester. Under the
influence of feminist desire and curiosity, about thirty-five years later, a stunning
retelling of Inanna was published (in 1983) by Diane Wolkstein, based on Kramer’s
scholarship. This was rather fervently read; indeed, this epic of female quest was highly
influential. Of these long poems, it influenced Grahn, Notley, and Waldman.
 Waldman’s words; “‘I Is Another’: Dissipative Structures,” in Fast Speaking Woman:
Chants and Essays: 134; also in Vow to Poetry.
 Judith Halberstam, Female Masculinity. Durham: Duke University Press, 1998;
Michael Davidson, Guys Like Us: Citing Masculinity in Cold War Poetics. Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 2004.
 DuPlessis and Snitow, The Feminist Memoir Project: Voices from Women’s
Liberation. New York: Three Rivers Press (Random House), 1998: 20.
 “Abortion,” written for an [undated] abortion rights rally in Boulder, Colorado, in
Kill or Cure. New York: Penguin, 1994: 114-115.
 One can point, now , to a strong set of collected essays by poets, critical
books (all or parts) and special issues working on the reception of women “experimental”
writers of all kinds, books including Kathleen Fraser, Translating the Unspeakable:
Poetry and the Innovative Necessity. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2000;
Lyn Hejinian, The Language of Inquiry. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000;
Joan Retallack, The Poethical Wager. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003;
Rachel Blau DuPlessis, The Pink Guitar: Writing as Feminist Practice and Blue Studios:
Poetry and Its Cultural Work (both from University of Alabama Press, 2006 [Pink Guitar
from 1990]); Lynn Keller, Forms of Expansion: Recent Long Poems by Women.
University of Chicago Press, 1997; Ann Vickery, Leaving Lines of Gender: A Feminist
Genealogy of Language Writing. Wesleyan/New England, 2000; Linda A. Kinnahan,
Lyric Interventions: Feminism, Experimental Poetry, and Contemporary Discourse.
University of Iowa Press, 2004; Elisabeth A. Frost, The Feminist Avant-Garde in
American Poetry. University of Iowa Press, 2003; Laura Hinton and Cynthia Hogue, eds.,
We Who Love to Be Astonished: Experimental Women’s Writing and Performance
Poetics. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2002; Steve Evans, ed. differences
12.2 (Summer 2001), special issue: After Patriarchal Poetry: Feminism and the
Contemporary Avant-Garde; Patricia Dienstfrey and Brenda Hillman, eds., The Grand
Permission: New Writings on Poetics and Motherhood. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan
University Press, 2003.
 Lee Christopher, “Interview with Anne Waldman.” AWP Chronicle 28.1 (December
 See DuPlessis, H.D.: The Career of that Struggle, 1986. H.D.’s “epic” clearly had an
impact on Waldman’s conception of Iovis. Along with the encyclopedism (alluding to
Pound, Williams and Olson), Waldman has made several key allusions to H.D.’s Helen in
Egypt. Stylistically the poems are exceedingly different — even opposite, as H.D.’s is a
centered, dreamlike but narrative-meditative reflection on one central myth of Western
culture: the fault of Helen of Troy in triggering one of the key culturally and politically
formative wars in our tradition. H.D.’s poem is centered, regular and, while spiritual,
non-vatic. But Waldman learned from and alluded to several specific elements of H.D.’s
poem. One is in the general reflection on women in a mythologically charged site.
Another is the creation of a quester speaker who is a thamaturge, responsible for rites of
naming and envisioning. Another is a specific rhetorical strategy that is very clarifying:
of having a headnote, a box of italicized information, that explains the work of the canto
to come, doubling its argument in allusive prose and then in poetry.
 Myra Jehlen, “Gender,” in Frank Lentricchia and Thomas McLaughlin, eds., Critical
Terms for Literary Study. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995: 263-273. Citation
 My analysis in Writing Beyond the Ending, that in kunstlerromans, female heroes
often complete the incompleted work of thwarted parents seems germane here.
 About the operatic, one may link this, pertinently, to the computer. Waldman feels
with Iovis the impact of the computer; she says “it is like a theater, a magic movie screen.
You have all of these little players to move around [referring to sections of poems]. It is
like an opera” (Waldman, AWP Chronicle interview, 4).
 Given the breadth of materials and of years over which such a poem is composed,
one might find some of its genres are conflictual (narrative and notes; sequence and
collage; sestina and letter). The absorption and transcending of conflicts in this poem’s
space would be this poem’s method. A writer may throw out a variety of analogies for the
work of encyclopedic form, analogies that are always right, of course, but always
incomplete. Despite the fiercely febrile performativeness of the work, Waldman has also
called it a temple (“Go Between Between”) meaning a plurality of nooks and crannies, a
“catholic” space in which the sacred dwells in every spot — and in which worship and
exorcism can occur. There are other analogies besides shrine or temple. In a lecture in
1996, she calls Iovis a totem pole. This last appealing in its frank phallicism — and in its
quasi-Jungian cast of poised characters stacked like masks on the pole. Both these are
very spatialized analogies and at interplay with the performative, aria/cantata sense of a
poem cut into time for performance.
 A little touch of Marjorie Perloff in her Futurist book, but I am mainly drawing on
Janet Lyon, Manifestoes: Provocations of the Modern, Ithaca: Cornell University Press,
 People sometimes call these poems epics. This is the subject of a very important
comment made by Alice Notley on the matter of Iovis, that it does have epic themes (love
and war). Notley makes two propositions. She says that it is conventional to call Olson’s,
Pound’s and Williams’ work Epic (as a metaphor), and therefore Waldman must be
accorded the same rights, as she emphatically works in this tradition. But Notley suggests
(and I have long agreed) that a strict definition of the term epic would exclude these
modern long poems, though not the work of H.D.: the definition of Notley’s is that it is a
narrative that does cultural service. By the way, this implicitly makes The Descent of
Alette an epic moment — that is using the “descent to the underworld” part of epics—the
nekuia — as the whole story. Scope is here
I use words as my table, as a kind of shrine
I sweep over the care of the words
They take care of themselves
I sweep them under my demand (Iovis I, 119)
Scope is here in conflict with being through-composed. This is the challenge, par
excellence, for the writer of the long poem.
Bloch, Ernst. “Nonsynchronism and the Obligation to Its Dialects (1932),” New German
Critique 11 (1977): 22-38.
Braidotti, Rosi. Nomadic Subjects: Embodiment and Sexual Difference in Contemporary
Feminist Theory, New York: Columbia University Press, 1994.
Cixous, Hélène. “The Laugh of the Medusa,” trans. Keith Cohen and Paula Cohen. New
French Feminisms, in Elaine Marks and Isabelle de Courtivron, eds. Amherst:
University of Massachusetts Press, 1980: 245-264.
Davidson, Michael. Guys Like Us: Citing Masculinity in Cold War Poetics. Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 2004.
Dienstfrey, Patricia and Brenda Hillman, eds. The Grand Permission: New Writings on
Poetics and Motherhood. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2003.
DuPlessis, Rachel Blau. H.D.: The Career of that Struggle. Bloomington: University of
Indiana Press, 1986.
———. The Pink Guitar: Writing as Feminist Practice. New York: Routledge, 1990.
———. Writing Beyond the Ending: Narrative Strategies of Twentieth-Century Women
Writers. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1985.
DuPlessis, Rachel Blau and Ann Snitow. The Feminist Memoir Project: Voices from
Women’s Liberation. New York: Three Rivers Press (Random House), 1998. Also,
rev. Rutgers University Press, 2007.
Eshleman, Clayton. Companion Spider: Essays. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University
Halberstam, Judith. Female Masculinity. Durham: Duke University Press, 1998.
Evans, Steve. “Introductory Note: After Patriarchal Poetry: Feminism and the
Contemporary Avant-Garde.” differences 12.2 (Summer 2001): i-v.
Fraser, Kathleen. Translating the Unspeakable: Poetry and the Innovative Necessity.
Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2000.
Friedman, Susan Stanford. “Craving Stories: Narrative and Lyric in Contemporary
Theory and Women’s Long Poems.” In Feminist Measures: Soundings in Poetry and
Theory, eds. Lynn Keller and Cristanne Miller. Ann Arbor: The University of
Michigan Press, 1994: 15-42.
Friedman. “Gender and Genre Anxiety: Elizabeth Barrett Browning and H.D. as Epic
Poets.” Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature 5.2 (Fall 1986): 203-28.
Friedman. “When a ‘Long’ Poem Is a ‘Big’ Poem: Self Authorizing Strategies in
Women’s Twentieth-Century ‘Long Poems.’” LIT 2 (1990): 9-25.
Frost, Elisabeth A. The Feminist Avant-Garde in American Poetry. University of Iowa
Grossman, Allen. “Summa Lyrica: A Primer of the Commonplaces in Speculative
Poetics.” The Sighted Singer: Two Works on Poetry for Readers and Writers.
Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992.
Hejinian Lyn. The Language of Inquiry. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000.
Hinton, Laura and Cynthia Hogue, eds. We Who Love to Be Astonished: Experimental
Women’s Writing and Performance Poetics. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama
Jehlen, Myra. “Gender,” in Frank Lentricchia and Thomas McLaughlin, eds. Critical
Terms for Literary Study. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995: 263-273.
Kamboureli, Smaro. On the Edge of Genre: The Contemporary Canadian Long Poem.
Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1991.
Kinnahan, Linda A. Lyric Interventions: Feminism, Experimental Poetry, and
Contemporary Discourse. University of Iowa Press, 2004.
Keller, Lynn. Forms of Expansion: Recent Long Poems by Women. University of
Chicago Press, 1997.
Keller. “The Twentieth-Century Long Poem,” in Jay Parini, ed. The Columbia History of
American Poetry. New York: Columbia University Press, 1993: 534-563.
Keller, Lynn and Cristanne Miller, eds. Feminist Measures: Soundings in Poetry and
Theory. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1994.
Lyon, Janet. Manifestoes: Provocations of the Modern, Ithaca: Cornell University Press,
Notley, Alice. The Descent of Alette. New York: Penguin Books, 1996.
Notley. Homer’s Art, Canton, New York: Glover Publishing, 1990.
Notley. “Epic and Women Poets.” In Disembodied Poetics: Annals of the Jack Kerouac
School, eds. Anne Waldman and Andrew Schelling. Albuquerque: University of New
Mexico Press, 1994: 103-109.
Notley. “Iovis Omnia Plena.” Chicago Review 44 (1998): 117-129.
Olson, Charles. Charles Olson and Ezra Pound: An Encounter at St. Elizabeths, ed.
Catherine Seelye. New York: Paragon House, 1975.
Parkins, Wendy. “Moving Dangerously: Mobility and the Modern Woman, Tulsa Studies
20.1 (Spring 2001): 77-92.
Perloff, Marjorie. The Futurist Moment: Avant-Garde, Avant Guerre, and the Language
of Rupture. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1986.
Pound. Ezra. The Cantos. New York: New Directions, 1971.
Retallack, Joan. The Poethical Wager. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003.
Riley, Denise. “Am I That Name?”: Feminism and the Category of “Women” in History.
Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1988.
Waldman, Anne. “Notes for a Public Forum,” 100 Days 30 April 2001, Barque Press,
———. Iovis I. Minneapolis: Coffee House Press, 1993.
———. Iovis, Book II. Minneapolis: Coffee House Press, 1997.
———. “Feminafesto.” From Kill or Cure. New York: Penguin Books, 1994: 142-146.
———. “Rocky Flats: Warring God Charnel Ground.” Disembodied Poetics: Annals of
the Jack Kerouac School, eds. Anne Waldman and Andrew Schelling. Albuquerque:
University of New Mexico Press, 1994: 482-490.
———. “‘I Is Another’: Dissipative Structures.” In Fast Speaking Woman: Chants and
Essays. San Francisco: City Lights Books, 1996.
———. Kill or Cure. New York: Penguin Books, 1994.
Waldman, Anne and Lee Christopher. “An Interview with Anne Waldman.” AWP
Chronicle 28.1 (December 1995): 1-6.
Waldman, Anne and Ed Foster. “An Interview with Anne Waldman,” Talisman 13 (Fall
1994/ Winter 1995): 62-78.
Wolkestein, Diane and Samuel Noah Kramer. Inanna: Queen of Heaven and Earth. Her
Stories and Hymns from Sumer. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1983.
Vickery, Ann. Leaving Lines of Gender: A Feminist Genealogy of Language Writing.
Wesleyan/ New England Press, 2000.
Virgil. The Eclogues of Virgil, trans. David Ferry. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux,
Williams, William Carlos. Paterson (1946-1951; 1958). New York: New Directions,