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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Queer Confessional: Foregrounding the Discordant Poetics of Henri Cole Through the Troubling of Genre

  • Author(s): Rodil, Jan Leonard Maramot
  • Axelrod, Steven
  • et al.

This paper is a research study on a nascent American Poet, Henri Cole, whose scholarly archiveremains minimal, positioning itself as a fundamental starting point to which to begin a discussionaround a new, but critical voice within the field of American Poetics. The discordant poetics of HenriCole are informed by two distinct traditions within the canon of 20th and 21st century Americanpoetics, namely that of a queer and confessional mode to which he stands at the intersection ofboth movements. However, Cole’s scholarly archive is woefully small due to his recent publicationpresence in the literary field. Thus, research was focused on analyzing Cole’s chief poetic inspirations(Hart Crane and Elizabeth Bishop) as well as recursive forays into queerness and confessionalpoetics. In identifying that intersection, I argue that Cole is at the forefront of troubling poetic genrethrough the proposal of a ‘queer confessional’ mode of poetics. Cole troubles the notion of truththrough utilizing a queer perspective on the confessional genre that has historically fell to criticismsof histrionics and overt inwardness. Instead, this paper aims to subvert a long history of literarycriticism through instead focusing on how a queer confessional form ‘retrieves’ the confessional asa radical, poetic gesture that relishes in the instability of truth-making through a simultaneous reaffirmationof poetic genre. Cole thus disrupts and revises the notion of literary tradition through hisqueer perspective; in which his ‘queer confessional’ proposes a poetics of liberation.

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