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Book Title: Sleeping With the Dictionary|
The author of the book: Harryette Mullen
Edition: University of California Press
The size of the: 5.79 MB
City - Country: No data
Date of issue: February 22nd 2002
ISBN 13: 9780520231436
Format files: PDF
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Reader ratings: 4.9
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Harryette Mullen's fifth poetry collection, Sleeping with the Dictionary, is the abecedarian offspring of her collaboration with two of the poet's most seductive writing partners, Roget's Thesaurus and The American Heritage Dictionary. In her ménage à trois with these faithful companions, the poet is aware that while Roget seems obsessed with categories and hierarchies, the American Heritage, whatever its faults, was compiled with the assistance of a democratic usage panel that included black poets Langston Hughes and Arna Bontemps, as well as feminist author and editor Gloria Steinem. With its arbitrary yet determinant alphabetical arrangement, its gleeful pursuit of the ludic pleasure of word games (acrostic, anagram, homophone, parody, pun), as well as its reflections on the politics of language and dialect, Mullen's work is serious play. A number of the poems are inspired or influenced by a technique of the international literary avant-garde group Oulipo, a dictionary game called S+7 or N+7. This method of textual transformation--which is used to compose nonsensical travesties reminiscent of Lewis Carroll's "Jabberwocky"--also creates a kind of automatic poetic discourse.
Mullen's parodies reconceive the African American's relation to the English language and Anglophone writing, through textual reproduction, recombining the genetic structure of texts from the Shakespearean sonnet and the fairy tale to airline safety instructions and unsolicited mail. The poet admits to being "licked all over by the English tongue," and the title of this book may remind readers that an intimate partner who also gives language lessons is called, euphemistically, a "pillow dictionary."
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Read information about the authorHarryette Mullen is an American poet, short story writer, and literary scholar. She was born in Florence, Alabama, grew up in Fort Worth, Texas, graduated from the University of Texas at Austin and attended graduate school at the University of California, Santa Cruz. As of 2008, she lives in Los Angeles, California. She wrote poems such as Land of the Discount Price, Home of the Brand Name.
Mullen began to write poetry as a college student in a multicultural community of writers, artists, musicians, and dancers in Austin, Texas. As an emerging poet, Mullen received a literature award from the Black Arts Academy, a Dobie-Paisano writer’s fellowship from the Texas Institute of Letters and University of Texas, and an artist residency from the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico. In Texas, she worked in the Artists in Schools program before enrolling in graduate school in California, where she continued her study of American literature and encountered even more diverse communities of writers and artists.
Mullen was influenced by the social, political, and cultural movements of African Americans, Mexican Americans, and women in the 1960s-70s, including Civil Rights, Black Power, the Black Arts Movement, Movimiento Chicano, and feminism. Her first book, Tree Tall Woman, which showed traces of all of these influences, was published in 1981.
Especially in her later books, Trimmings, S*PeRM**K*T, Muse & Drudge, and Sleeping with the Dictionary, Mullen frequently combines cultural critique with humor and wordplay as her poetry grapples with topics such as globalization, mass culture, consumerism, and the politics of identity. Critics, including Elisabeth Frost and Juliana Spahr, have suggested that Mullen’s poetry audience is an eclectic community of collaborative readers who share individual and collective interpretations of poems that may provoke multiple, divergent, or contradictory meanings, according to each reader’s cultural background.
Mullen has taught at Cornell University, and currently teaches courses in American poetry, African American literature, and creative writing at the University of California, Los Angeles. While living in Ithaca and Rochester, New York, she was a faculty fellow of the Cornell University Society for the Humanities and a Rockefeller fellow at the Susan B. Anthony Institute at University of Rochester. She has received a Gertrude Stein Award for innovative poetry, a Katherine Newman Award for best essay on U.S. ethnic literature, a grant from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, and a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Her poetry collection, Sleeping with the Dictionary (2002), was a finalist for a National Book Award, National Book Critics Circle Award, and Los Angeles Times Book Prize. She received a PEN Beyond Margins Award for her Recyclopedia (2006). She is also credited for rediscovering the novel Oreo, published in 1974 by Fran Ross. Mullen won the fourth annual Jackson Poetry Prize from Poets & Writers in 2010.
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