On (& Of) My Aesthetics
As a practitioner of the poem, and essay and other literary nonfiction forms, my visual aesthetic intersects between the traditional and the experimental; the latter a favored place to linger while engaged with space as a movable and re-movable object particularly during acts of erasure and fragmentation. Within these conventional and unconventional forms, the image is often a central part of my work. I look for and embrace the challenge of the image (text, art, photograph, memory) and its representations of transgression. One of my recently published pieces, Hotel Pool, or, Gay Subject Matter , slips into a slow transformation while quietly considering David Hockney’s Study for Portrait for an Artist (Pool with Two Figures), and I attempt to find myself within Hockney’s piece, focalizing on art, gay culture, and identity.
Influences include Roland Barthes, Susan Sontag, Mary Cappello, Walter Benjamin, Claudia Rankine, Maya Deren, Stephanie Brown, Audre Lorde, Georg Perec, et al.
I am deeply invested in the essay form and its transcontinental history as a form beginning with Michel de Montaigne, whose assays
intersected the personal with the sociocultural and political, to German writers and thinkers such as Novalis, Friedrich Schlegel, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Theodor W. Adorno et al. The locus of my inquiry resides in the development of the American essay form during the nineteenth-century and the influence of German texts on its development. My reading and study began with the Massachusetts-based Transcendentalists, specifically Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Margaret Fuller, but I quickly found myself thinking deeply about contributions by Black and Native writers such as William Appess,
Frederick Douglas and others.
My secondary field of interest is human-animal studies, specifically the human-animal relationship in autobiography and memoir. I came to this area through my love and fascination with creatures and the public and private spaces we share with them— zoos, aquariums, domestic spaces, the wilderness, and how we view captivity and freedom in our lives among beasts.
To begin and continue, my study of the essay and its forms direct my observations of past and present worlds and circle back to my own aesthetics.