Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Tough Love: Parody & The Song of Hiawatha

The following is a transcript of a talk I gave last Tuesday, July 24, as a part of the Mixtape Reading Series at the Casbah in Durham. It is actually sort of two talks in one, a treatment of parody and a Longfellow recovery operation, merged together with a twist in the middle.

Tough Love: Parody & The Song of Hiawatha
by Brian Howe

"With both hands his face he covered."

I believe that in order to truly love something, you have to perceive and rejoice in what is ridiculous about it. This is also a good description of one of my favorite arts, the art of parody. To be sure, some parodies are simply catty and cruel, coming from disinterested or even hateful places—and these can be quite fun. I want to warm up with an occasional doggerel by Byron, which he seems to have written in an absolute fury over Peter Bell, a notoriously awful book that Wordsworth self-published even though his friends begged him not to. I should note that I’m using the term “parody” broadly here, to also encompass burlesque and drive-by attack poems such as this:

Monday, July 23, 2012

Mixtape reading: 7/24, The Casbah, 8 pm

Years ago, I ran a small salon-style reading series called Mixtape, where poets read work that was not their own. Now my friend Chris Vitiello, in conjunction with the Hinge Literary Center, has revived and renovated Mixtape at the Casbah in Duhram.

Tomorrow night (Tuesday, July 24) at 8 pm, I'm reading in it with poet Fred Moten, filmmaker sarah goetz, and photographer M.J. Sharp. I'll be giving a presentation about the love/hate nature of parody, using Longfellow as a lens. Details on the Hinge website can be found here.