KARASICK, Adeena




Author Tags: Jewish, Poetry

Adeena Karasick was born of Russian Jewish parentage in Winnipeg on June 1, 1965. After formative years in Vancouver where she was influenced by the Tish Group and the Kootenay School of Writing, she received her Master's degree from York University in Toronto and her Ph.D. (on Kabbalah and deconstruction) from Concordia University in Montreal. Her difficult-to-comprehend work such as Mêmewars is concerned with the interplay of poetry and theoretic discourses. Her "collage essays" blur the boundaries between poetry, socio-political commentary, pop culture and feminist theory. Her writing has been described as "electricity in language" (Nicole Brossard), "plural, cascading, exuberant in its cross-fertilization of punning and knowing, theatre and theory" (Charles Bernstein) "a tour de force of linguistic doublespeak" (Globe and Mail) and "opens up the possibilities of reading" (Vancouver Courier). Canadian Book Review Annual praised her third book as "an interlingual, intralingual, and inter-semiotic translation of various discourses (poetic, critical, autobiographical, feminist, and historical, with a special emphasis on the history of Jews and the Holocaust) and languages (English, French, German, Hebrew)." Publishers Weekly described Dyssemia Sleaze as "Her most visually compelling, over-the-top collection to date... an exhibitionistic, youthful, pseudo-hysterical display of ambition and desire."

On the other hand, it has been noted that her writing is radically exclusive while assuming a stance of beseiged marginality. As a conclusion to his page-long feature on Adeena Karasick's poetry in the the Autumn 1997 issue of B.C. BookWorld, Gary Geddes wrote, "Genrecide is ambitious and not without merit, but it's also radically exclusive, more exclusive than the tradition it seeks to displace. Ironically, while it strikes a formalist pose, 'language' poetry is actually as content-ridden as so-called nature poetry: Its exclusive content is poetry itself. Wallace Stevens admitted that all poems are, at some level, about poetry, informing us subtly, implicitly, about poetry's potential to grasp reality, but he knew that they had better also be about something else. Despite their liveliness and performance aspect, Karasick's poems seem intended primarily for a small group of academic converts who share a restricted, though highly charged, critical vocabularly, and who take comfort in assuming a stance of besieged marginality."

Formerly a Writer-in-Residence at the Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany, Karasick accepted a position as Professor of Poetry and Cultural Studies at St. John's University, in New York City. Her homolinguistic translation of the Kabbalistic text the Sefer Yetzirah is the basis for a multi-media performance piece, bridging the gap between L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poetry and Spoken Word. She has won a 1999 People's Choice Award: Electrolit Videopoem Festival - Alphabet City and a "Most Adventurous Publication" award at the 2000 Bumbershoot Book Fair Award for Dyssemia Sleaze.

Impenetrable to most, Adeena Karasick’s This Poem (Talon 2013) is described as a self-reflexive romp through the fragments of post-consumerist culture in the style of Facebook updates and extended tweets. The self-styled co-founding director (Minister of Semiotic Turbulence) for the KlezKanada Poetry Festival, Karasick is ostensibly “mashing up the lexicons of Stein, Zukofsky, Shakespeare, Whitman, the recent financial meltdown, semiotic theory, Lady Gaga, Derrida and Flickr streams.”

BOOKS:

The Empress Has No Closure (Talonbooks, 1992)

Mêmewars (Talonbooks, 1993)

Genrecide (Talonbooks, 1996)

Dyssemia Sleaze (Talonbooks, 2000)

The House That Hijack Built (Talonbooks, 2004) $19.95

Amuse Bouche (Talonbooks, 2009)

This Poem (Talonbooks, 2013) $19.95 978-0-88922-699-9

[BCBW 2013] "Poetry" "Jewish"