Room 26 Cabinet of Curiosities

Gertrude in repose

Posted in Beinecke Library, Yale Collection of American Literature by beineckepoetry on April 26, 2012

On view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, through June 3, 2012: The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso, and the Parisian Avant-Garde.

Gertrude Stein in the Luxembourg Gardens, 1907.

Yale College Poets

Posted in Beinecke Library, Yale Collection of American Literature by beineckepoetry on April 20, 2012

The Buffet

Posted in Beinecke Library by beineckepoetry on April 18, 2012

Here at Room 26, we tend to think of this blog, and Beinecke Library, and, well, even Yale, as a big buffet . . .
with new items added every day!
Think of the choices!

Polaroid by Jonathan Williams.

P.P. by W.D.

Posted in Beinecke Library by beineckepoetry on April 17, 2012

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The Book of Skeletons

Posted in Beinecke Library, General Modern Collection by beineckepoetry on April 12, 2012

New Research in Beinecke Collections

Posted in Beinecke Library by beineckepoetry on April 9, 2012

(Re)Storing Happiness: Toward an Ecopoetic Reading of H.D.’s The Sword Went Out to Sea (Synthesis of a Dream), by Delia Alton, from Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and the Environment 2011, an essay by Cynthia Hogue, 2005 H. D. Fellow at the Beinecke Library — Full text PDF


The modernist poet H.D. described her postwar novel, The Sword Went Out to Sea (Synthesis of a Dream), as an “exploratory” roman vecu, a description which points to the work’s experimental structure and its basis in autobiography. Sword is a palimpsest; the contemporary plot and characters in the first section, “Wintersleep,” are layered over—and recast in earlier eras—in the second section, “Summerdream.” The novel’s subject, Spiritualism and reincarnation, is esoteric. H.D. wrote the novel under the name she also gave her main character, the Spiritualist Delia Alton, a nom de plume that she adopted, as Demetres Tryphonopoulos suggests in his scholarly edition of H.D.’s Majic Ring, “for her psychically ‘gifted’ and mystically inspired authorial alter ego.”1 Sword includes details not only about H.D.’s Spiritualist activities, but also about her acquaintance with Lord Dowding, a Spiritualist who had been Air Chief Marshal of the Royal Air Force during the Battle of Britain. The novel was drafted soon after H.D. recovered from a psychotic breakdown in 1946 that is often attributed to Lord Dowding’s repudiation of her psychic gifts, a series of events that has colored the novel’s reception.

In the essay that follows, I shift the terms in which this work has been placed. I begin with its esoteric context and proceed to its ecopoetic concerns, in order to explore the novel’s environmental awareness and what I argue is a gynocentric vision of a replenished natural world. Sword cultivates a precision of attention—an “ethics of looking,” to invoke Elizabeth-Jane Burnett’s definition of feminist ecopoetics3—brought into sharp focus by duress. The novel is a poet’s prose, so highly attuned to its environment—dramatically, insistently, a city under siege in a world at war—that H.D.’s experience of the intensity of civilian life in London during war-time is palpable even some 60 years later. To be sure, she testifies to that intensity more lyrically in Trilogy, written before the war ended, and the contrast between the two works is instructive. Sword spells out what Trilogy encodes, as if its author were too traumatized by war’s aftermath to sublimate the actual events, the personal and global devastation in the context of which she wrote. Sword does not transcend its circumstances, because the novel is grounded in them, literally thinking-through war’s aftermath. But in the end, I suggest, H.D. transposes what she construes from the Second World War into a profoundly ecopoetic vision of a healed and restored earth.

Read the rest of the essay here: (Re)Storing Happiness, Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment 2011 18: 840-860

Image: Bookplate from H. D.’s library

Susan Howe & David Grubbs: April 5 Reading & Performance

Posted in Beinecke Library, Yale Collection of American Literature by beineckepoetry on April 3, 2012

Susan Howe, Poetry Reading &
Performance with Musician David Grubbs
Thursday, April 5th, 4:00pm
Beinecke Library, 121 Wall Street
Yale Collection of American Literature Reading Series

Poet Susan Howe, winner of the 2011 Bollingen Prize for American Poetry, and musician David Grubbs will perform a collaborative piece based on Howe’s award-winning volume That This. This is the third collaborative work Howe and Grubbs have created together; they performed their second collaboration, “Souls of the Labadie Tract,” at Beinecke Library in 2009 (see a description of the event here:

Poet Susan Howe is the author of numerous books of poems including: That This (winner of the 2011 Bollingen Prize for American Poetry awarded by the Yale University Library) , Souls of the Labadie Tract, The Midnight, Pierce-Arrow, and Singularities.

Musician David Grubbs has made many solo records, played in a number of groups (Squirrel Bait, Bastro, Gastr del Sol, Red Krayola, Wingdale Community Singers), and frequently collaborates with writers and artists. He is an Associate Professor in the Conservatory of Music at Brooklyn College, CUNY. He teaches in Brooklyn College’s MFA program in Performance and Interactive Media Arts (PIMA) and Brooklyn College’s MFA program in Creative Writing, and is a member of the faculty of the Brooklyn College Center for Computer Music (BC-CCM).

Image: Susan Howe and David Grubbs performing in Cork, Ireland; photograph by Keith Tuma.