Archive for the ‘Spinaflex Press’ Category

Sheila Fisher’s The Selected Canterbury Tales and Susan Hawthorne’s Cow on Woman-Stirred Radio   Leave a comment

Thismorning, as I was getting ready to write the post for this week’s show, Iwas struck once again by the fortunate fact that I get to read greatbooks and then talk to the amazing people who write them.
photo by: Sonia Brand-Fisher
Thisweek is no exception and I’m thrilled to welcome Sheila Fisher, who isgarnering some attention with her new TheSelected Canterbury Tales (Norton, 2011),  just re-issued in paperback, and poet Susan Hawthorne, whose collection, Cow, is a Lambda Literary finalist.


Sheila Fisher’s interview starts at 4:15 p.m. (eastern).
“In the tradition of Seamus Heaney’s Beowulfand Marie Borroff’s Sir Gawain and theGreen Knight, Sheila Fisher’s TheSelected Canterbury Tales is a vivid, lively, and readable translation ofthe most famous work of England’s premier medieval poet. Preserving Chaucer’srhyme and meter, Fisher makes these tales accessible to a contemporary earwhile inviting readers to the Middle English original on facing pages. Herinformative introduction highlights Chaucer’s artistic originality in hismemorable portrayals of surprisingly modern women and men from across thespectrum of medieval society” (WWN).
Chaucerhas long been known as the Father of English poetry, who had a directand significant influence on Will Shakespeare, but who does not enjoy  proportionate interest and popularity, let alone have a pop cultural resurrection. (I’mthinking Shakespeare in Love, thevarious Kenneth Branagh postmodern productions, Macbeth, King Lear, Midsummer’s Night Dream, et cetera.) 


But Chaucer is influential, and markedly so. Chaucer’s influence resonates throughout the labyrinths of literary and artistic production and Sheila Fisher is working to further underscore that. Fisher’s new translation of the Canterbury Tales is engaging and interesting, and in spite of the factthat the Church controlled every single aspect of a medieval woman’s or man’slife, Chaucer dishes up fascinating portraits into the medieval mind and character and insightsinto their life-circumstances. We also access the subtle and not so subtle social commentariesvoiced through the likes of the Prioress, the Pardoner, the Wife of Bath, theMerchant’s, Reeve’s or Nun’s Priest (sic) about their time and place in history. The Selected Canterbury Tales are really good stories and traces can be found in current culture (I’m sure to the angst of Hilton Kramer) via the endless variationsof heroes and knights against evil, dark villains, vulnerable maidens, andDisneyesque romances. Or the perfectly hilarious Knight’s Tale, with Heath Ledger.


Sheila Fisher, PhD teaches English and is associate academic dean at Trinity College. She specializes in Chaucer,fourteenth-century English literature, and medieval women writers.


That’s 4:15, Thursday March 29th, and if you want to join theconversation or have a question or comment, call 802.454.7762.
Thenat 5:00 I welcome one of favorite poets, Susan Hawthorne, whose recentlypublished collection, Cow (Spiniflex, 2011) is a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award inpoetry. 
Lastautumn, my dear friend Julie R. Enszer, sent me a copy of Cow, and several nights running, after reading another string ofHawthorne’s masterful reimaginations of a multitude of cultural myths, I would settle down to my nightlycigarette and let my own imagination out to pasture. There in the dark, grassessoft underfoot and fragrant, was Queenie, her long flanks and elegant horns,her face soft in the moonlight, her eyes waiting for me to accept herpossibilities. 


This is the effect of Cow: one wants to really go there


Hawthorne conjures such vitality and cleverness in her language that Cowbecome a cinematic emersion into a carnal, spiritual world without parametersand expectations; it’s as if the original myths of all our cultures have cometogether, reconfiguring the violence and calculated control of patriarchy intoa vast, quirky fantasia of imagination. It becomes a personal experience ofmyths exploded:
in anothertime
a later time
when godsand demons
hadforgotten to be immortal
they joinedforces to create a nectar of immortality
these boystook their time
they carriedin Mount Mandara
turned itupside down
placed it onthe back of the tortoise
demons onone side
gods on theother
and eachheld the world snake
twirled themountain top for a thousand years
backforwards
backforwards
again andagain
the bestthey could manage was deadly poison
So please join us at 5:00 for a live interview, all the way from Australie, for an interview with poet Susan Hawthorne. Feel free to call in with comments and questions: 802.454.7762, or email: merrygangemi@gmail.com.

Woman-Stirred Radio is underwritten by Sinister Wisdom, celebrating 35 years of  lesbian-feminist arts and letters. Woman-Stirred Radio broadcasts live on WGDR 91.1 fm and WGDH 91.7 fm, Goddard College‘s community radio station located in Plainfield, Vermont.