Harryette Mullen Analysis

Other literary forms

(Poets and Poetry in America)

Best known as an avant-garde poet, Harryette Mullen has also published short stories in Texas-based anthologies, including Her Work: Stories by Texas Women (1982), South by Southwest: Contemporary Texas Fiction (1986), and Common Bonds: Stories by and About Modern Texas Women (1990). In addition, Mullen has published critical essays and book reviews in a number of important journals, including Diacritics, MELUS, and Callaloo.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Harryette Mullen is the recipient of the Gertrude Stein Award for Innovative Poetry. Her 2002 book of poems, Sleeping with the Dictionary, was a finalist for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. She received a PEN Beyond Margins Award for Recyclopedia, her 2006 collection of three previously published books, and the Jackson Poetry Prize from Poets and Writers magazine in 2010. She received a grant from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts in 2004 and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation in 2005 and the Academy of American Poets in 2009.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Bettridge, Joel. “Sleeping with the Dictionary/Blues Baby: Early Poems.” Review of Sleeping with the Dictionary and Blues Baby. Chicago Review 49, no. 2 (Summer, 2003): 160-165. Bettridge argues that while Sleeping with the Dictionary expands Mullen’s range of formal devices, particularly her use of the paragraph, it also hearkens back to the autobiographical but complicated tenor of her early poems, collected in Blues Baby.

Frost, Elisabeth A. “’Ruses of the Lunatic Muse’: Harryette Mullen and Lyric Hybridity.” Women’s Studies 27, no. 5 (September, 1998): 465-481. Frost analyzes Muse and Drudge as a long serial poem that defends the lyric tradition, emphasized by its allusion to the minor Greek poet Callimachus. Frost argues that the book enacts the mongrelization that is American history and culture while yoking together Greek antiquity and contemporary American culture, as signaled by Mullen’s invocation of Sappho as a blues singer and of the folklore figure, Sapphire, as a lyric poet.

Mix, Deborah. A Vocabulary of Thinking: Gertrude Stein and Contemporary North American Women’s Innovative Writing. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2007. Contains the chapter “Domestic Economies: Harryette Mullen’s Trimmings and S*PeRM**K*T,” in...

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