Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Tracie Morris, "Hard Kore" [L1]

Morris, Tracie. “Hard Kore.” PennSound. Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing at the University of Pennsylvania, 2004. MP3. [L1]

(This is part of Morris' reading for the 3rd Annual Caroline Rothstein Oral Poetry Program at the Kelly Writers House, University of Pennsylvania, October 28, 2008. A recording of the complete reading can be found here, courtesy of PennSound's awesome audio archive. My responses to the other poems Morris performed at this reading are here.)

Pronounced hard KOHR-ey, Kore being another name for Persephone. To me this title implies at least two things: 1) Persephone's stubbornness and 2) her sexual ripeness—Kore is, after all, the goddess of fertility. Both traits are emphasized in the poem and Morris' performance of it. In the beginning, Kore refuses to yield to her situation (i.e. being given over to the underworld) and to Pluto and his extra-ordinary body. This stubbornness and rebellion come through in the poem's explicit language and imagery and through Morris' halting performance of this language: she pauses mid-phrase in several places (which I would transcribe as an enjambed line break) and picks up speed in others. I take this performative ebb and flow as a reflection of the ebb and flow of desire, of the body's rhythms. This ebb-flow movement is also reflected in the language of the poem's concluding lines in which the ebb of Kore's stubbornness flows into her pent-up "hunger" to receive in return for what Pluto has r(e)aped from her and her body.

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Image source: Wikipedia