Content Category

Literary Criticism

Abstract/Description

Mary Szybist’s 2013 National Book Award–winning poetry collection, Incarnadine, re-envisions the encounter between Mary and the angel Gabriel, entering the same thematic space that early Annunciation artwork traditionally has in order to portray the human encountering the alien. In these poems, symbol systems—particularly metaphor and sometimes language itself—allow the speaker to approach understanding without full comprehension. In reexamining, rupturing, and recombining traditional elements of Annunciation representations and the respective tenets of Marian theology they signified, the poems in Incarnadine point to the persistent inadequacy but inescapable necessity of metaphor in the process of meaning-making. After briefly describing the history of Annunciation artwork and detailing its traditional iconography, I will explore Szybist’s feminist critique of Marian theology and relate her conclusion that metaphor is unreliable but ultimately necessary in order to approach the unknown.

Location

4101 JFSB

Start Date

20-3-2015 10:15 AM

End Date

20-3-2015 11:45 AM

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Mar 20th, 10:15 AM Mar 20th, 11:45 AM

“My wonderful and less than”: The Inadequacy and Necessity of Metaphor in Szybist’s Incarnadine

4101 JFSB

Mary Szybist’s 2013 National Book Award–winning poetry collection, Incarnadine, re-envisions the encounter between Mary and the angel Gabriel, entering the same thematic space that early Annunciation artwork traditionally has in order to portray the human encountering the alien. In these poems, symbol systems—particularly metaphor and sometimes language itself—allow the speaker to approach understanding without full comprehension. In reexamining, rupturing, and recombining traditional elements of Annunciation representations and the respective tenets of Marian theology they signified, the poems in Incarnadine point to the persistent inadequacy but inescapable necessity of metaphor in the process of meaning-making. After briefly describing the history of Annunciation artwork and detailing its traditional iconography, I will explore Szybist’s feminist critique of Marian theology and relate her conclusion that metaphor is unreliable but ultimately necessary in order to approach the unknown.