Stock Market is a Timely Muse for Prof's Poetry

Oct. 31, 2011

A UT Dallas professor's most recent work trains an eye on an unlikely subject for poetry:  Wall Street and financial volatility.

Two poetry collections this year by Dr. Susan Briante, assistant professor of creative writing and literature, confront economic themes, most recently The Market is a Parasite that Looks Like a Nest, which was published this fall.

It was preceded in the spring by Utopia Minus, which examines the often overlooked histories recorded in the American landscape. The poems in this book remember the Civil War ruins of the South as well as the ruins of more contemporary wars and our current economic crisis.

Excerpt from:

THE MARKET IS A PARASITE THAT LOOKS LIKE A NEST

The Market scowls,
crosses the street against traffic, settles, hovers
over a spread-sheet with his administrative assistant
as if it were an infant, sleeps in another bed
after 3 ½ years of marriage,
can only sleep on half of the bed
after 43 years of marriage, sees a coffin
in shop window, grows nostalgic
for shop windows on crowded city streets
where men made picture frames, repaired
television sets, piled tools in doorways, nursed
machines to roast and grind coffee,
a press to print newspaper. The Market wants to apprentice,
cannot apprentice, looks like a nest in a tree. The Market
is the parasite that looks like a nest in a tree, howls
through the ventilation system, hairless, blind, a newborn
calf sleeping on your chest, the curdling Market
whose milk has come in.

“Many poems in Utopia Minus specifically consider the economic ruins of the Great Recession, from abandoned factories to a ruined concrete foundry,” said Briante.

The Market takes the theme further.

“This book is a personification of the market – imagine the market as an aging baby boomer – that was inspired by a line from the first poem of my previous book, Utopia Minus,” said Briante.

Some of the poems published in the The Market can be found online.

Briante has started working on her next project, inspired by her growing interest in digital literature as well as her interest in the stock market and its influence over the economy.

“In May 2009, I began recording the closing number of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. I’ve plugged those numbers into Project Gutenberg, Bartlett's Quotations, and various search engines to reveal lines from Paradise Lost, phrases from the Bible and many unexpected sources,” said Briante.

“I allow those texts to exert their influence over a series of poems much in the same way the closing number of the Dow exerts an influence over our lives.” 

More than twenty poems from this collection, under the working title $INDU or Ghost Numbers, have been published in journals or are forthcoming. Others have been released in a limited-edition chapbook. They have earned Briante two Pushcart Prize nominations. One poem was selected by the Academy of American Poets for their high-profile Poem-A-Day program.

Briante is also working to produce an interactive web-based platform for this collection of poems.

Briante's poetry has appeared in more than 50 journals, including New American Writing, TriQuarterly and Indiana Review. She has also published a series of essays on the relationship between place and cultural memories.

Briante holds master’s degrees in comparative literature and poetry, and a PhD  in English from UT Austin. She teaches poetry workshops at the undergraduate and graduate levels at UT Dallas.


Media Contact: Chaz Lilly, UT Dallas, (972) 883-4461, charles.lilly@utdallas.edu
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu.

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Susan Briante

Susan Briante's poetry has appeared in more than 50 journals, including New American Writing, TriQuarterly and Indiana Review.
  
“Many poems in Utopia Minus specifically consider the economic ruins of the Great Recession from abandoned factories to a ruined concrete foundry,” said Briante.

Utopia Minus

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