yesterday i visited this site, which features video of meena alexander reading her poems and must say that i felt very strange after seeing/hearing alexander read. there was a caricature-like quality to things-from facial expressions to accent. alexander comes across very different on the page than in person. her accent was reminiscent of my english teachers in India, who i imagined, imagining themselves in the victorian age, hair tied up in a bun, corsetted in a light colored tafetta gown sipping tea from rose embellished tea cups with guilded edges.
anyway, i respect MA as a writer/academic and feel that she can do so much more, expand her ideas so much further. i really am curiuos to see how she has evolved as a poet in raw silk.
in context of MA and her muse, i just came across a wonderful book called 'black lightening' which looks at poetry in progress of asian writers, among them, MA. in it, her muse is discussed, a white saree clad woman from the old country (kerala) whose legs have been severed. alexander talks about this muse coming to her as a ghost and about how she wrestled with this muse.
now i have come across the muse as a woman ghost in maxine hong kingston's writing too and find it fascinating how ghosts represent our past and how metaphorically they symbolize memory, etc..
but in the case of alexander the muse is hyperreal. in the essay in black lightening, MA describes her muse in a personal journal entry: "what does she have, this ghost to give me? perhaps when i see the dance performance tonight; of indian dance in the hunter playhouse, what she is will clarify. perhaps the dancer will come close to me with something in her hand."
i found this quite intriguing. it brings up the question of what a muse is and what expectations one can have from a muse. to me it really seems as if alexander expects her muse to come through in the dance she will attend that night and give her something tangible.
In this essay, alexander also talks about how she dreamt of the muse often and that the muse didn't approve of he/what she was doing. what the heck does this mean?
i alwasys looked at the muse as something intangible and feel that we force it into shape and form. yes, we go looking for it and haunting people is probably the muse's favorite past time, but for it to enter our existance as some sort of hyperreality scares me, because once it enters a person's writing and starts leaving its stamp, it's like a form of 'possesion.' if we are to believe that the muse is real yet ghost like, then we have to entertain the threat of it inhabiting the writer's body and using the writer for its own purposes. ok, i think i'm getting carried away;) and i am now going to enjoy the summer by eating some watermelon.
you know i'll be back;)