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Literary Categories are So Last Century

by Katie Leo 

Tags: Great Writing, literary journals, hybrid, genres, migration, Dislocate,


Increasingly, we are a global community of migrants. In this era of unprecedented mobility, boundaries seem more permeable, and indeed arbitrary, than ever.

Enter the hybrid. Not the car, the literary genre. Are genre categories like poetry and prose just so 20th Century? The spring issue of Dislocate magazine seems to say, yes. The editors have put together a collection of prose poems, lyric essays, and flash fiction that address the theme of migration through either form or content. By resisting proscribed boundaries, the writing opens up new possibilities in form and content.

Take Gregg Willard’s “Pop”, which gleefully straddles the line between poetry and prose.  It begins:

dislocateWhen I was a boy my father told me, “If you go to any more movies, you’re going to turn into a movie.” I kept going to movies. When I turned into a movie it turned out to be a Japanese science-fiction movie. The dubbing was very bad...

“We are interested in work that addresses form but also breaks away from it,” says Editor-in-chief Shantha Susman. “What does it mean to dislocate, to take it away from its natural place?”

The issue features poetry by Peter Johnson, Nin Andrews, and Todd Boss, an interview with author Ethan Canin, a never-before-published English translation of Haitian poet Jacqueline Beaugé-Rosier by Gabrielle Civil, and gorgeous photos by Kyle Rand.

Also featured is work by women of Chicago’s Grace House, a transitional facility for women recently released from prison. For this collaborative project between The Field Museum and Northwestern University, Grace House residents wrote responses to painter Jacob Lawrence’s “The Great Migration” series, which portrays the mass migration of African Americans from the South to the North in the early 20th Century. Their powerful, spare prose speaks to the unstable nature of migration.

As resident Racheal M. Harris writes, “Don’t ever be afraid of change—ain’t nothing constant but change.”  

Source: Dislocate (full text not available online)

Images courtesy of Dislocate and Kyle Rand