Jeanne Heuving’s The Transmutation of Love and Avant-Garde Poetics is now out from the Modern and Contemporary Poetics series of the University of Alabama Press. Heuving claims that this writing of love is defining for avant-garde poetics, identifying how such important discoveries as Pound’s and H.D.’s Imagism, Pound’sCantos, and Duncan’s “open field poetics” are derived through their changed writing of love. This book places H.D. at the center of Modernist invention. There are chapters in the book on “Imagism as Projective Love” and on “Being in Love and Writing Love,” as well as individual chapters on H.D., Pound, Robert Duncan, Nathaniel Mackey, and Kathleen Fraser.
Jeanne Heuving has written an ardent study of the metamorphosis of Western love and its classic poetic tropes involving desire and the poetic objects of longing, by proposing an altered configuration of eros in modern and contemporary poetry. Resisting the attack on or the reduction of love as only a literary or social convention, and acknowledging changed relations of gender and altered knowledge of sexualities in modernity, Heuving treats the poetic practices of Pound, H.D., Duncan, Fraser and Mackey and offers serious theorizing on the poetics of Amor. This vibrant contribution to poetic criticism makes claims for love as ecstatic perception, the I as “othered” in love, and the affects and effects of this eros, all going beyond the poetry of the yearning gaze and the static beloved into a wider libidinal field. In fascinating readings and deft theoretical insights, she tracks the implications of this re-articulation of eros for poetic languages, formal innovations, textual subjectivities, and poetics.”
—Rachel Blau DuPlessis, author of The Pink Guitar: Writing as Feminist Practice, Blue Studios: Poetry and Its Cultural Work, and Purple Passages: Pound, Eliot, Zukofsky, Olson, Creeley, and the Ends of Patriarchal Poetry
“The Transmutation of Love and Avant-Garde Poetics proposes that the engagement of sexual love and its energies is the source of the creative power in some of the most interesting poetry written in the past one hundred years. Asserting the value of a ‘projective love and libidinized field poetics,’ Jeanne Heuving astutely draws our attention to the erotic transformations that animate the poetry of Pound, H. D., Duncan, Mackey, and Fraser, assessing changes through the psychodynamic propositions of Plato, Freud, Lacan, and Kristeva. The result is a truly enlightening insistence on the connections between these poets’ formal innovations and the topic of sexual love, whose permissions Heuving ingeniously finds submerged as a slowed down, introjective set of relations in Olson’s ‘Projective Verse,’ a discovery I find revelatory. The whole book, sharply written and superbly argued, should alter the way American avant-garde poetry is read.”
—Peter O’Leary, author of Phosphorescence of Thought and Gnostic Contagion: Robert Duncan and the Poetry of Illness