Virginia Bell is the author of From the Belly (Sibling Rivalry Press 2012) and a Pushcart Prize nominee. Her poetry is also forthcoming in Hypertext and has appeared in Fifth Wednesday Journal, Cider Press Review, Gargoyle, Rogue Agent, Stirring: A Literary Collection, Spoon River Poetry Review, The Nervous Breakdown, Cloudbank, CALYX, Poet Lore, Pebble Lake Review, Wicked Alice, Ekphrasis, and other journals, as well as in the anthologies The Burden of Light: Poems on Illness and Loss, Brute Neighbors: Urban Nature Poetry, Prose and Photography, and A Writers’ Congress: Chicago Poets on Barack Obama’s Inauguration. Bell is an adjunct professor of English at Loyola University Chicago and DePaul University’s School of Continuing and Professional Education. She has a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature and has published articles on writers such as Anne Carson, Eduardo Galeano and Leslie Marmon Silko, as well as The Instructor’s Resource Manual for Beyond Borders: A Cultural Reader (Houghton Mifflin 2003).
“I am currently fascinated with poems like Harryette Mullen’s “Mantra for a Classless Society, or Mr. Roget’s Neighborhood,” which is composed exclusively of adjectives. This poem shows that all so-called rules of poetry can be broken, if broken well. Haven’t we all been told at some point to use few, if any adjectives in our poems? Anne Carson, on the other hand, insists that adjectives, “these small imported mechanisms,” are worth celebrating because they “are in charge of attaching everything in the world to its place in particularity. They are the latches of being.
“When I fall in love with a poem these days, it’s often because of adjective-noun combinations that prickle with meaning and emotion: “urine-colored eyes,” “satin throat,” and “slit-tongued questions” (Lee Sharkey in “The voice is the last we forget to remember” and “Sequestered”); “life-sized anatomical atlas” and “a matte mouse” (Mary Jo Bang in “The Three Lies of Painting”); or, adjectives that become part of a new noun (and vice versa), as in “Illegal-American” and “Angelbeast” (Eduardo Corral in “In Colorado My Father Scoured and Stacked Dishes” and “To the Angelbeast”).”