AQR & Genre Defiant Work
Flipping through the newest issue of Alaska Quarterly Review, from back to front, it only took a page in before I was stopped by the image on the page. I won’t explain it – has to be seen – “STRETCH IT OUT!” by Vis-à-Vis Society (Rachel Kessler and Sierra Nelson). Guest edited with an introduction by Elizabeth Bradfield, “Out of Bounds: A Celebration of Genre-Defiant Work” is pretty dang delightful. While AQR tries to bring it onto the page, the one piece connected directly from their website is really better in the e-version than in print. It’s worth having it preserved in the issue, though both forms seem transient to their own degree, but “The Christmas When You Were Nine” is best experienced in its originally paced “code poem” form. But this is the challenge of works that defy genre, and is nothing new, Bradfield tells us: “Work that defies genre and authorship is not, of course, new. Japanese renga of the 8th century were written collaboratively. One might consider Homer a mashup artist, making his poem from the many tellings and retellings of an oral epic. French Surrealists mixed visual art into their experiments. The ‘happenings’ of the 1950s and 1960s were even more multi-disciplinary and worked to break the fourth wall between performer and audience.” And what was once strange and new became mainstream. Strange and new, fun and playful, definitely worth checking out – with kudos to Alaska Quarterly Review for making efforts to harness that defiance for us to see – or have they harnessed the readers and brought them to this experience? Defiance indeed.