P E R S O N A from SWANK BOOKS
Meet Bog Girl, Fishy Id, Canoehead, and Subway Bride. A constellation of diverse personalities - and poetic forms - that charts a landscape of identity for the 21st century. From post-9/11 New York City to 19th-century Scandinavia, from Pacific Northwest fish canneries to convents in Northern Brazil, PERSONA wrestles with notions of identity, gender, culture, and faith in real-world situations. Working within and against a variety of poetic forms, PERSONA examines who humans are and what they harvest.
Don Byrd, author of The Poetics of the Common Knowledge
"There are unique experiences here: people are visited by angels and see gods... Most of us, most of the time, see the dame dumb things, in the same dumb ways. Everything begins to look like TV. We must be thankful the the occasional person -- like Lori Anderson Moseman -- who tells us again how strange it all is."
Jan Ramjerdi, author of RE.LA.VIR and Heart of Sky
"Persona says: Let identity be a slide show -- each self a persona projected on the other -- the other is you, hungry, commodified, a transfinite metamorphosed persona, a performance of our mythocosmos in a real and dirty world. Read this great, important book. Lori Anderson Moseman is a visionary mystic guiding us with clairvoyant language toward a post-identity world filled with hope and humor."
Karin Sanders from Bodies in the Bog and the Archaeological Imagination published by the University of Chicago Press in 2009 AND from "Bodies in Process. Bog Bodies in Contemporary Art and Poetry." Edda. 4/04. Scandinavian Journal of Literary Research . Eds. Unni Langås. Norwegian University Press. Oslo, 2004. Pp. 276-285.
Bad Bog Babes: Lori Anderson Moseman
Sacrifice is not an option in the American performance artist and poet Lori Anderson Moseman's collection of poetry with the title Persona, 2003. Through a number of poems, twelve in all, with titles such as "Bad Bones," "Bog Girl On Belay," "Badland Babes" and "Bog Girl Goes Bowling," ranging from concrete poetry, over traditional prose poems to hyper poetry, Anderson Moseman stages Heaney's "little adulterer" Windeby Girl as a both unpretentious and self-confident Bad Bog Babe who responds to the projections that she and other bog bodies have been submitted to. "Shinbones showed how starved she was" we read in "Bog Girl" and with a sense of audacious futurism the poet suggests that the malnourished bog body from the past be sent to "Biosphere II for food."
Lori Anderson Moseman is concerned both with the materiality of the bog body and with its potential for posing questions about the subject. She is not glossing over the surreal, bizarre or anachronistic in the remains. Yet while she holds on to a perceived sense of unreality and artificially projected personas, she also sees in them aspects of our humanity. In the opening poem, Anderson Moseman fuses a contemporary girl called Hog Girl with Bog Girl and casts her as "a new container for the infamous resurrected peat body."
Hog Girl's favorite bag-o-bones in P.V. Globs The Bog People is Windeby Girl [...] This girl, Hog Girl thought, had to be more than the adulterer Seamus Heaney posits in "Punishment." Child labor could be the subject. Or . Pre-Christian fertility. Or . The way monopoly is played in the Iron Age: no plastic hotels for Park Place - just boulders and girls to bury.
The reference to Glob and to Heaney continues in a number of her other bog poems and her unsentimental approach can be directly compared to Heaney's pathos. Whereas Heaney saw moments of continuity (past-present) in the bog bodies, Moseman emphasizes discontinuity, the incongruous, and the absurd. While Heaney in "Punishment" tied the band around Windeby Girl's eyes to sexual fantasies, Anderson Moseman sees the same band ironically: "she started weaving a sprang band to bury as a cure for her husband's glaucoma" ("Mrs. Anderson Moseman rereads Mosefolket "). Like Heaney, Anderson Moseman relates explicitly to Glob's Mosefolket, (she deliberately uses the Danish title to plays off her own last name), but unlike Heaney she cuts directly and irreverently into the archaeological account.
She does so in a number of ways but none more graphically than in the poem entitled "Empirical Collar." Here, she uses lines from both Glob's text and from the Canadian poet Erin Mourés' O Cidadan (2003) and creates a typographically layered poem in which her own writing is supplemented by italicized cuts from Glob's text and by bolded cuts from Mourés'
Inside next to the skin her fur scalped then
sewn to ox-hide (Nerthus needs extension in space)
((this vertex of skin occupied the climate of order"))
Inside next to the skin no evidence of strangulation
Glob's " inside next to the skin " is cut from his depiction in The Bog People of how the leather collar touches Windeby Girl's skin, then repeated and stitched together with Anderson Moseman's own observations about the bog body.
In yet another poem with the title "Mrs Anderson Moseman rereads Mosefolket " the poet's own last name, acquired through marriage (Moseman in Danish means Bog Man) is employed with self-irony: "Having practiced both promiscuity and homosexuality without fatality, middle-aged newlywed Mrs. Anderson Moseman resumed her study of Bog Girl." And further: "The Mose Mrs. vowed to gather sufficient data to chart in ways her husband, the behavioral researcher, could respect." In front of the mirror she arranges her hair in a so-called Swabian knot, found on some male bog body remains; a hairstyle which Tacitus comments on in his Germania as characteristic of the freeborn from the North who used the coiffure, not as a means of vanity but to look taller and fearless in the eyes of the enemy (Tacitus, Germania , 28). Mrs. Moseman, in her poetic impersonation of bog person or persona, ponders whether she should become "A bog beautician?" or a "forensic cosmetologist?" but in "Bad Bones" any kind of direct narcissistic mirroring in bog bodies is challenged:
We crumble when names are etched upon us.
We undermine pedestals, dissolve
All plaster. We are fragile communicants
The plaster which crumbles is an implied reference to the archaeological face reconstructions, which has taken place in the past few years and by analogy to other sorts of plastic surgery in contemporary body culture (Windeby Girl was the first bog body whose face has been reconstructed). But in Anderson Moseman's universe and with the poem "Bad Bones," reconstruction is not simply attacked: "We are bad bones, and we hate our replica" but also seen as part of poetical imagination and the verbal attempt to humanize the bodies.
Literary fancy is
simple. Liberation is multiple. Reconstructed
from the grave: wax and wigs are guesses -
attempts to humanize -- as are words
Moseman sees the bog body as a "semiotic simian" but also as a mnemonic space, "Cell memory/making us mirrors" ("Badland Babes") which resist, almost like counter-memory, any fixed meaning or place.