To Think of her Writing Awash in Light, winner of the 2015 Subito Press Lyric Essay/Creative Nonfiction Prize
[Purchase from Small Press Distribution]
Analysis, as this book’s epigraph from Gertrude Stein suggests, is how women discover “there are laws.” In these inventive, genre-bending literary and lyrical essays on five women writers – Dorothy Wordsworth, Emily Dickinson, Hettie Jones, Joanne Kyger and Anne Waldman – Linda Russo investigates the essayist-poet’s relationship to her subjects and their social and material geographies (in landscapes, archives, and domestic spaces, from Grasmere, England, to Harvard’s Houghton Library in Cambridge, Massachusettes, to Bolinas, California). As a result To Think of her Writing Awash in Light illuminates a history of women’s shifting relationship to the unwritten “laws” of literary production over two centuries.
The often thought to be ephemeral parts of a gendered writing life are made major in Linda Russo’s To Think of Her Writing Awash in Light. She spends time with the edits of Dorothy Wordsworth’s journals, with Emily Dickinson’s desk and her envelopes, with Hettie Jones’s typing of Yugen as editing, with reading out loud as she writes of reading from Anne Waldman’s epic Iovis with Joanne Kyger. In the tradition of Susan Howe and Lisa Robertson, it’s a book that might be essay and might be literary criticism and might just be a love poem too. It surprises and delights with its serious beauty.
– Juliana Spahr, author of Well Then There Now (2011) and That Winter the Wolf Came (2015)
I read Awash on a sunny windy day in West Texas from whence we “go” to Cambridge Mass to see Emily Dickson’s desk and later Mount Auburn Cemetery to Bob Creeley’s grave and later on Hetti Jones’s east village apartment that once held a press. At Joanne Kyger’s table we read Anne Waldman’s Iovis. Thanks to Dorothy Wordsworth’s diaries it seems we visit she. Each light inflected visitation holds writing not aloft but as an alive three dimensional thing where we are swaying alongside Linda Russo and a train of others. It’s pure being this reading, that’s its delight as we move about poetry and its moments like it were art, or history intimacy itself and as Russo succinctly puts it “the lack of an 'authoritative' reading frets no one involved in this occasion.”
– Eileen Myles, author of I Must Be Living Twice: New and Selected Poems 1975 – 2014(Harper Collins, 2015) and The Importance of Being Iceland: Travel Essays in Art (MIT Press, 2009)
"Seriously Vivacious Reading: A Feminist Poetics of Literary Inquiry," a little essay on writing Awash