I'm delighted to share my poem, "Resurrection Fern," which recently appeared in ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment]. It stems (no pun intended!) from several trips I made to an East Texas Sunday House owned by a dear friend PJ. There were resurrection ferns there and I was utterly taken by them and their resilience. I hope you'll like this poem!
I'm so delighted that Another Troy has been recognized yet again. It has been chosen as a finalist for the 2021 Eric Hoffer Award! Congratulations to my mother Joan, whose verse I edited in this chapbook!
I'm delighted to announce that Another Troy won the Gold Medal for the 2021 Human Relations Indie Book Awards. The book won in the category of Wisdom Poetry. Despite her youth, my mother, Joan Wehlen Morrison, wrote wise poetry. As she ponders shortly after the start of World War II, "Did I Make the World?"
Here are we two and the night is white clouded
And the dream-music drifting out the window
Punctuated at the hour by themes broadcast
And we return to Träumerei.
I can hardly believe
Even now the pulp of flesh is draining white
In Poland, that there is any life anywhere
Save this dream life of ours.
Perhaps all this world is only 'I imagine.'
All mine. I made it.
(September 25, 1939)
I first began writing about Patient Griselda from Geoffrey Chaucer's The Clerk's Tale in the 1980s. A chapter of my dissertation addressed what I called her negative poetics. That dissertation I finished in 1991. Now it is 30 years later and that chapter has finally been published as an article in Medieval Feminist Forum–but in a much embellished and improved form. While originally I just focused on a feminist approach to Griselda's uses of variants of "no" in her replies to her abusive husband, Walter, I was now, after exploring theoretical fields not even imagined in their present forms at the time, able to produce a much richer piece. Here is the current abstract:
This essay argues for silence as a dynamic actant and vibrant rhetoric. While Walter commits slow violence against her, Griselda in Chaucer's Clerk's Tale resists the predatory practice of exploiting nonhuman objects, which, within misogyny, women embody. Ultimately framed within an ecocritical paradigm, this essay is grounded in lessons from trauma studies concerning silence, as well as new materialist and ecocritical approaches. Whether focusing on emotional distress, environmental devastation, or the agency of materiality, these critical approaches cohere by making manifest and heard what has been repressed, silenced, or overlooked. Griselda writes her own narrative, patiently and resiliently enacting agency through her poetics of negation.
Trauma studies, as I understand it, didn't even exist as a field then. New materialist and ecocritical paradigms such as plant studies–which I draw on–likewise did not exist in their current forms. There is something called "Slow Scholarship," which argues against the academy's urgent desire for immediate production. Much better scholarship can occur over the long term. I have been working something I call "slow pilgrimage ecopoetics," which looks at medieval–and more contemporary–pilgrimage texts as exemplifying a slow process, leading to an ecocritical perspective. My pilgrimage to having "Insistent, Persistent, Resilient: The Negative Poetics of Patient Griselda" published was slow, but ultimately so rewarding. It is a much better piece for having taken so long. Patience in scholarship as with Griselda's [in]famous patience deserves attention. Silence does not mean inactivity or lack of thought. It can be a form of agency as well as a form of resistance.
"Insistent, Persistent, Resilient: The Negative Poetics of Patient Griselda." Medieval Feminist Forum, vol. 56 no. 2 (2020): 73–92.
Susan Signe Morrison on Slow Pilgrimage Ecopoetics
"Slow Practice as Ethical Aesthetics: The Ecocritical Strategy of Patience in Geoffrey Chaucer's The Clerk's Tale." Special Issue: 2020 Ecocriticism: In Europe and Beyond; 10th Year Anniversary Issue. Ecozon@ 11.2 (2020): 118-127.
"[A]n exterior air of pilgrimage": The Resilience of Pilgrimage Ecopoetics and Slow Travel from Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales to Jack Kerouac's On the Road," in Special Issue of Humanities (2020) 9, 117: 1-11. Special Issue: Keep on Rolling Under the Stars: Green Readings on the Beat Generation.https://doi.org/10.3390/h9040117
"Slow Pilgrimage Ecopoetics." Special issue on Randomness and Design. Ecozon@: European Journal of Literature, Culture and Environment 10.1 (2019): 40-59. http://ecozona.eu/article/view/2527/3110. Accessed May 13, 2019.
"Dynamic Dirt: Medieval Holy Dust, Ritual Erosion, and Pilgrimage Ecopoetics." Open Library of Humanities [Waste: Papers on Disposability, Decay and Depletion]. 5.1 (2019): pp. 1-30. DOI: https://doi.org/10.16995/olh.373.
"Walking as Memorial Ritual: Pilgrimage to the Past." Featured Article for M/C Journal: A Journal of Media and Culture 21.4 (2018). Special Issue: Walking. http://journal.media-culture.org.au/index.php/mcjournal/article/view/1437
On slow scholarship: see Hannes Bergthaller,, Rob Emmett, Adeline Johns-Putra, Agnes Kneitz, Susanna Lidström, Shane McCorristine, Isabel Pérez Ramos, Dana Phillips, Kate Rigby and Libby Robin. "Mapping Common Ground: Ecocriticism, Environmental History, and the Environmental Humanities." Environmental Humanities, vol. 5, 2014, pp. 261-276.
Deeply honored and humbled to be designated Texas State University Distinguished Professor. Many thanks to all who supported me throughout my career! 🙏 And special congratulations to my fellow designee, Rodney Rohde! Here's more about the award: "This award honors individuals whose performance in teaching, research, and service has been exemplary and recognized at the state, national, and international levels. Dr. Morrison will retain the title of "University Distinguished Professor" for the duration of her service at Texas State. She will also receive a one-time $5,000 award, a commemorative medallion, and recognition during the fall convocation. Finally, Dr. Morrison has been nominated for consideration by The Texas State University System (TSUS) Board of Regents for the Regents' Professor Award."
It is so interesting when one's own novel becomes fodder for literary scholars to analyze. As a literary scholar myself, it is really fun to read. For example, I came across an MA thesis which analyzes Grendel's Mother: Jolene Witkam's MA Thesis in Philology from Leiden University. One of her advisors is none other than Dr. M. H. Porck, whose blog on Early English material and Old English is fantastic. Then there is Kathleen Forni's Beowulf's Popular Afterlife in Literature, Comic Books, and Film (Routledge, 2018). Forni calls my novel "a realistic and lyrically poetic version of a story….As Morrison's elegant retelling attests, high art can also embody the experiences of the marginalized." I'm delighted academics are able to take this novel and read it from theoretical and linguistic perspectives. I'm looking forward to seeing more in the future! Let me know if you come across any other such works.
For International Women's Day, listen to these women's Cold War stories, including mine! Mine is the 5th one on this list at Cold War Conversations.
I hope you enjoy this poem of mine, "Cathedral." Recently published in The Taj Mahal Review, it was inspired by a glorious trip in the rain, November 2017, with my two dear children to the Rodin Museum in Paris.
I hope you can join me virtually "at" BookWoman, one of the last of the valiant feminist bookstores in the USA. It takes place at 7:15 CST on Thursday, February 11th. We're blessed in Austin to have this store here! They are so supportive of the community and I've given a number of readings of my books there. Now, it's time for a reading of my mother's poetry. Joan Wehlen Morrison was a historian and writer. After her death, we found her diaries and poetry from the late 1930s-early 1940s when she was a teenager. I edited the diaries which were published as Home Front Girl. This past year, Finishing Line Press published some of her poetry in a chapbook entitled Another Troy. I'll be doing a reading of some of these poems. It will be followed by an open mic poetry reading. So you can participate, if you like! The event is organized by the wonderful Cindy Huyser, who interviewed me here. Here is the link to register--it's free and sure to be fun. I hope to "see" you there!
My essay, "Consent and Lemman in Geoffrey Chaucer's The Reeve's Tale," has just been published in Notes and Queries. If you would ike a pdf, do let me know! The article begins:
The use of the Middle English word lemman—loved one, paramour, or sweetheart—by Malyne, daughter of the miller Symkyn in Geoffrey Chaucer's The Reeve's Tale, complicates an already fraught speech (I.4240–4247). It is uttered after her sexual encounter with the university student Aleyn. Their intercourse remains charged in Chaucer studies because of (1) the nature of how coitus is initiated and (2) Malyne's reaction afterwards—a speech followed by weeping. Understood within Chaucer's own biography—his release from charges of raptus by Cecily Chaumpaigne—this tale has inevitably generated charged controversy. The word lemman occurs over a dozen times in the Chaucer corpus, mainly in The Canterbury Tales. Most notoriously, it occurs twice in Malyne's sole speech. This essay reads the use of lemman within the Chaucerian corpus, concluding to concur with other scholars who interpret Aleyne and Malyne's sexual encounter as rape.