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.
Delighted to have written the featured article for this issue of Humanities about the pilgrimage connections between Geoffrey Chaucer and Jack Kerouac. This photo from our pilgrimage in 1994 from Winchester to Canterbury by Jim shows that pilgrims still walk to sacred shrines even in our modern world.
My mother grew up in Chicago and frequented the Art Institute of Chicago. She often wrote about the art there in her diary and poetry. The Song of the Lark, the painting by Jules Breton, was one of Joan's favorites. Today, on what would have been her 98th birthday, I would like to share a moment from her diary and a brief interview with Bill Murray. The interview is one my husband shared with me today and brought a tear to my eye. Please give the interview a listen–Bill Murray is quite moving. And my mom's diary entry belongs to a different mode of thought–still, the painting is very familiar to her!
Feeling rather dreary while waiting in the post office line for two hours, I got an email out of the blue with this message: "I'm a history student in West Yorkshire in England and I just wanted to tell you I loved your book. I quoted you several times as a secondary source for my essay and presentation in my module of Community & Identity in the Later Middle Ages. I loved the strong women you portrayed like Margery Kempe, Margaret Paston, and Margaret Beaufort."
What a lovely lagniappe! Suddenly, that post office line didn't seem so daunting.
It really does take a village to edit poetry. My mother–Joan Wehlen Morrison–was an accomplished writer and teacher. It was only at her death that her diaries and poetry were found which she had written in the late 1930s and early 1940s as a teenage girl. I edited her diaries which were published in 2012 as the award-winning Home Front Girl: A Diary of Love, Literature, and Growing Up in Wartime America. My next project became editing her poetry, just published as Another Troy. Editing poetry is not the easy task you might imagine. Read here to find out more about process.
I hope you enjoy my article, "Slow Practice as Ethical Aesthetics: The Ecocritical Strategy of Patience in Geoffrey Chaucer's The Clerk's Tale." It has just appeared in this Special Issue: 2020 Ecocriticism: In Europe and Beyond; 10th Year Anniversary Issue. Ecozon@ 11.2 (2020): 118-127. In it, I consider how ecocritical approaches concerning slowness and walking can illuminate this poignant and disturbing tale.
My article, "What it was like voting as an American in Germany right before the Berlin Wall fell," has just appeared in The Local.de, Germany's News in English. "In a time when US absentee ballot signatures are being questioned, author Susan Signe Morrison remembers the 1988 election and a vexed incident of signature recognition." Currently, I am working on a memoir about my experiences teaching in the GDR in the 1980s. I also recently talked about my experiences in an episode of the Cold War Conversations History Podcast.
As you have to subscribe to see the entire article, contact me if you'd like to see screenshots of the article.
Pilgrimage with Geoffrey Chaucer and Jack Kerouac: Ecocriticism, "The Canterbury Tales", and "On the Road"
With Geoffrey Chaucer and Jack Kerouac, we see how a contemporary American icon functions as a text parallel to something generally seen as discrete and past, an instance of the modern embracing, interpreting, and appropriating the medieval. I argue that The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer influenced Kerouac's shaping of On the Road. In the unpublished autograph manuscript travel diary dating from 1948–1949 (On the Road notebook), Kerouac imagines the novel as a quest tale, thinking of pilgrimage during its gestation. Further, Kerouac explicitly cites Chaucer. Read more of it here.