Gurlesque: the new grrly, grotesque, burlesque poetics

Lara Glenum, ed. Arielle Greenberg, ed.

A new anthology of wicked, subversive young women poets

$20.00 Paper, 978-0-9818591-4-9
2010 • 300 pp. 16 color illus. 6 x 8"

About the Editors


Gurlesque: the new grrly, grotesque, burlesque poetics brings together eighteen poets of wide-ranging backgrounds, united in their ability to push the aesthetic envelope through radical, femme, Third Wave strategies, and pairs them with visual artists who do the same. At the turn of the millennium, we are witnessing the emergence of a vital—perhaps viral—new strain of female poetics: the “Gurlesque,” a term that describes writers who perform femininity in their poems in a campy or overtly mocking manner, risking the grotesque to shake the foundations of acceptable female behavior and language. Built from the bric-a-brac of girl culture, these works charm and repel: this work is fun, subversive, and important. Poets include Brenda Coultas, Brenda Shaghnessy, Cathy Park Hong, Matthea Harvey, and Sarah Vap. 

Reviews: “I like these dirty poems.” —Eileen Myles

“‘It is not a movement, or a camp or a clique.’ So writes Arielle Greenberg in her introduction to the phenomenon now to be known as ‘the Gurlesque.’ So what is it? Think theory in fishnets, think beyond camp, think cute with claws, Plath with humor, passivity without pathos, think pink with a gun. Gurlesque is a sensibility and a style, a walking panic attack, a threat and a promise. Don't just read this book, ingest it, become it, perform it!”
—Judith Jack Halberstam

“Here comes a juicy volley of some of the most obstreperous, ill-behaved, ill-advised, detrimental, dismantling, dismaying poems out there – and I do mean ‘out there.’ The double introduction signals right away that the Gurlesque is nothing as centralized or self-confirming as a ‘movement,’ but Glenum and Greenberg make a potent case for the persistence of resistance in all its distributed, multitudinous, mutant and deviating femme and/or female forms.” —Joyelle McSweeeney

Gurlesque is a statement not only about feminism or the avant-garde, but about the rewriting of those concepts in response to a particular historical moment, a moment in which 20th-century visions of the future may seem more past every day.
—Morgan Myers, Rain Taxi

These poems tell you off and make you like it.
—Barry Schwabsky, Brooklyn Rail

The energy in the book is remarkable.
Thinking Again

The poets in Gurlesque are writing some of the best contemporary American poetry right now and deserve a wider audience.
Dan Magers, New Pages

...this is a daring, juicy read that bodes well for a new popular feminist poetics.

Ms. (Blog)

In an era when The Atlantic has postulated "the end of men," these poets have dispensed with concerns about gender equality and gone right for the jugular of a generation's assumptions about sexual behavior, bodily presentation, and the language of the erotic self.

Boston Review

I came away from the collection profoundly inspired to take more risks in my own writing...

—Jen Cross, make/shift

Lara Glenum is the author of The Hounds of No (Action Books, 2005) and Maximum Gaga (Action Books, 2008). With Josef Horacek, she translates 20th C. Czech poetry, most recently the selected poems of the Czech poet Vladimir Holan, a project that has received a Fulbright Fellowship and an NEA Translation Award. She lives and teaches in Athens, GA, where she curates the VOX Emerging Writers Series.

Arielle Greenberg's My Kafka Century (Action, 2005) and Given (Verse/Wave, 2002), the chapbook Far(t)her Down: Song from the Allergy Trials (New Michigan, 2003), and, with Rachel Zucker, Women Poets on Mentorship: Efforts & Affections (Iowa, 2008). Her poems have been included the 2004 and 2005 editions of Best American Poetry and a number of other anthologies, including Legitimate Dangers (Sarabande, 2006), and she is the recipient of a MacDowell Colony fellowship and other awards. She is assistant professor of English at Columbia College Chicago.

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