Trinie Dalton

  • culture June 30, 2011

    The Beginners by Rebecca Wolff

    Poet Rebecca Wolff’s first novel, The Beginners, draws on a long lineage of American stories either riffing on witchcraft in American history (Nathaniel Hawthorne, Shirley Jackson) or witchy fairy tales (Lorrie Moore’s “The Juniper Tree,” short stories by Kelly Link and Aimee Bender). In all these works, including Wolff’s, the possibility of witchcraft looms specter-like in the background, and it’s the text’s job to parse out how deeply magic actually informs reality. The balance between fantasy and realism in The Beginners (it ultimately leans toward the latter) is its greatest sophistication,

  • Bodies of Work

    Since the 2007–2009 “WACK!” exhibition in Los Angeles and New York, there has been a passionate reinvestigation of feminist art. Amelia Jones, to give just one example, wonders in a recent X-Tra magazine essay whether feminist artists have regressed to a desire to “make money out of the bodies (and the bodies-of-work) of women.” What better time, then, to publish Correspondence Course? This letter collection offers insights from many of the artists who started these debates in the first place, Carolee Schneemann in particular. Since the late ’50s, her paintings, installations, and films have

  • culture December 17, 2009

    The Tanners by Robert Walser

    Robert Walser’s prose exudes fluorescence, if words on the page can be described as color. His protagonists have such brightly sharpened tastes and manners, and such blindingly astute observational skills that to read their ways of seeing is as enlightening, and at times as painful, as staring into the sun. Reading Walser fortifies me to notice, to study, and to transform into art those moments that I hope never come. But come they will, Simon Tanner notices repeatedly in Walser’s first novel, The Tanners, published in Switzerland in 1907 but only recently translated into English. “Long live

  • Girl Zines: Making Media, Doing Feminism

    Few things herald the end of a subculture like the book-length critical study. Yet it’s thrilling to see zines taken seriously in Alison Piepmeier’s Girl Zines, which explores the world of handmade magazines created by women as a kind of social activism. The idea of an academic treatise on “grrrl zines”—grrrl with its triple r referring to the Riot Grrrl movement of the 1990s—is probably what compels Andi Zeisler, a founder of feminist magazine Bitch, to warn humorously in the foreword that “it can be difficult to talk today about the impact of the medium without giving off a whiff of the . .

  • culture October 08, 2009

    The Importance of Being Iceland by Eileen Myles

    During a recent reading for her new book, The Importance of Being Iceland, Eileen Myles observed that pitching articles to magazines and museums left her with copious work to collect into a book “about how I’ve made a living.” The Importance of Being Iceland, while serving as a tongue-in-cheek record of these endeavors, is also a series of personal ruminations about what it means to be a poet at large in the world. “The poet is like the earth’s shadow,” Myles writes in “Universal Cycle” (1998). “The sun moves and the poet writes something down.”

    If The Importance of Being Iceland reinforces

  • Bad Seeds

    The first time I thought of a plant as wicked, I realized I had crossed over into some fanatic realm of botanical empathy, joining ranks with plant enthusiasts so allied to particular species that it had become their personal responsibility—destiny, perhaps—to protect good plants, those susceptible sentient beings, against leafy villainy. By contract, of course, a gardener is a guardian assigned to protect a chosen plot from its hostile environment. But I discovered just how fervently humans impose a moral construct on the Plantae kingdom when a docent, in whose education program I was enrolled,