the Baroness

Subject: Re: Baroness
To: (cevans-ed2000)
Date: Wed, 20 Oct 1999 08:59:25 -0400 (EDT)
Precedence: bulk

Chris and all:

The Baroness life story is indeed fascinating. But there is no biography
and no one, so far as I know, is currently researching for a biography.
Why? There is *plenty* of archival material available--scads of
unpublished poems (some of which are being published here and there in
avant-garde magazines) and some letters to and from the Baroness.

She *enacted* modernism, some would say. She *was* modernist. Williams may
be a more complicated (and thus finally a more interesting) person,
because he led a life that was
part-modernist-experimentalist/part-suburban-conventional while his poetry
strove almost always to be experimental, to make it New. Wallace Stevens
was even more conventional personally. But the Baroness lived out the
spirit as well as (as it were) the letter of modernist theory.

It's interesting, I think, to be introduced to the Baroness in the context
of a few poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay, who was thought by some many
Americans to epitomize the 1920s high-modern free spirit or "flapper."

As I mentioned toward the end of the webcast on Monday evening, Millay's
modernism is in using traditional stanza forms (like the sonnet--one of
the most intense poetic conventions) but seeking ways to undermine or
ironize the form through slight modernist "interventions" (e.g.
anti-sonnet "modern love"/free love themes "inside" the sonnet). The
Baroness obviously chooses a different strategy. Free form is for her a
part of defiance against not just the themes of American conventions and
conformity but against the LANGUAGE of such conformity: e.g. "Say it with
flowers," and the alleged high-spirited twenties hilarity of "Yes, we have
no bananas"--a happy expression of idiocy typifying *false* middle-class
flapper "experimentalists" that is the *real* nonsense, according to the


|     The Baroness is quite the exhibitionist.  I would like to her

Status: O

ense, according to the


|     The Baroness is quite the exhibitionist.  I would like to her
| She really seemed to embrace extremism, exhibitionism and modernism in
| action.  She is the paradigm of flamboyence!