What is amazing in Mary E. Galvin’s Queer Poetics: Five Modernist Women Writers is her ability to draw upon sources that might be disdained in academic or theory circles. Witness what she does accomplish with an image from Judy Grahn while discussing the figure of the Poetess in H.D. [of course she also draws upon Robert Duncan’s The H.D. Book). What emerges is a fuller understanding of the figure and its import.
Motivated by the need to open up social/intellectual/psychic space for queer existence, H.D. sought, in the freedom of modernism, to piece together the significance of her personal experiences through the techniques of imagism within the palimpsest of myth. This is the ancient role of the Poetess, the role H.D. recreated for herself. In Another Mother Tongue, Judy Grahn has described this office:
In tribal culture we often formed a pool of potential initiates some of whom became the shamans and medicine people, who can enter the spirit world, the wind, the mountains and rivers and the bottom of the sea; the worlds of the dead, or spirits, of other people’s minds, of the gods and their forces; we it is who bring back the strange and old messages, interpreting them for the benefit of our tribe. Anciently we were sometimes rewarded and esteemed for this (Grahan, 273)
The difficulty in reading H.D.’s poetry arises not because she was being intentionally obscurantist in regard to the facts of her life, but because she was attempting to convey “another state of emotional life or being, a life of being that contained the past and the future.”
Galvin is quoting from H.D.’s Paint It Today
The past and the future, morning and evening star, hung there, a beacon in the darkness between this world and the future, the present and the future. She had, through the clarity of her youth, through the intensity of her passion, and through that fate or chance that had thrown her in Josepha’s way at a curious psychological moment (at the moment when she had been touched by the shadow of an understanding, stirred by it, but not awakened), surprised a curious secret, surprised the secret and found the door to another world, another state of emotional life or being, a life of being that contained the past and the future.
Such transhistorical moves are of course of their time.
In its own reach, this discourse with its universalizing the of the interstitial function works in the context of some poets such as H.D. and Robert Duncan. Odd. As in queer.
And so for day 2052