Octobert 10, 2018 The Signal page 21
Close reading explores 17th - century poet Discussion delves into premodern British taboos By Camille Furst News Assistant
A poet ahead of his time, Thomas Traherne was a pioneer in 17th century British lyric poetry. He dared to write about what others would not, to give a voice to what others would only whisper about and change the way people interpreted poetry. As cataclystic as his work may seem, Traherne left only a light footprint in the pathway of progressive poetry. The faculty of the English department hosted a poetry reading on Oct. 2, from 12:30 – 1:50 p.m. in the Physics Building Room 101 to discuss Traherne (1637-1674). Little is known about the poet, other than what can be salvaged from the written works he left behind, but his poetry was greatly influenced by topics like sexuality and gender fluidity, which were often considered taboo during his lifetime. Jean Graham, associate chair of the English department, held the lecture after recently publishing her essay, “High Delights That Satisfy All Appetites: Thomas Traherne And Gender.” The paper discusses the recurring theme of homosexuality and gender fluidity not only in Traherne’s poem “Love,” a poem she cited during the lecture, but in other works of his as well. She was inspired to write her article and hold the poetry reading after
analyzing some of Traherne’s work. “Love,” particularly intrigued her — while she saw themes of homosexuality and gender fluidity in his piece, she was surprised to learn that her interpretation was not one that was shared by many others. “When I started researching it I found that ... very few people — fewer than five — had written about the poem as a homosexual love poem.” Graham asked audience members if they have heard the name Thomas Traherne before. Out of the audience of approximately 40 people, only the three other faculty members raised their hands. “There are not currently a lot of records kept about Traherne,” Graham said. “(He) is not your most commonly read poet. I’m actually not expecting many of you to have read a poem by him.” Despite an almost nonexistent reputation, Traherne wrote about rare subjects of conversation at the time, including gender fluidity. “Women cannot attend university or become clergy, men cannot care for small children, and, legally, married women are non-persons,” Graham said of the time period in which Traherne lived. “Most people would say that (these poems are) unusual.” Graham then explained that despite various forms of oppression against
women in the pre-modern era, gender fluidity still existed to a certain extent. She presented a treatise from 1860 that prohibited cross-dressing in any form. However, since women were not allowed to act in plays, men cross-dressed and played female roles. “I am His image and His friend, His son, bride, glory, temple, end,” Traherne’s poem “Love” reads. By having the speaker characterize himself as both a son and a bride toward
God, Traherne began a conversation on gender fluidity. Poetry at the time was described as metaphysical, where metaphors, imagery and harsh expression were favored writing techniques. Traherne used those techniques to talk about issues that were forbidden at the time. Poets like Traherne “want people to pay attention, they don’t want to be forgotten,” Graham said. “For Traherne to be forgotten is unusual for a metaphysical poet.”
Meagan McDowell / Photo Editor
Graham dissects Traherne’s references to gender fluidity.
‘Hinowa ga Crush’ gears up readers for war
Action-packed Manga follows story of young soldier
Left: Hinowa is determined to avenge her fallen mother. Right: The sequel brings a fresh set of characters and new plot twists.
By Nina Brossa Correspondent
Takahiro is best known for writing the manga “Akame ga Kill!” It tells the story of Tatsumi, a boy from the countryside who joins a group of assassins in order to rid the empire of corruption. The final manga volume of “Akame ga Kill!” brought the series to a satisfying close in July. Now, from the same author, along with new artist Strelka, comes its sequel, “Hinowa ga Crush!” While there are a few flashbacks to the original, fans and newcomers alike will be able to enjoy this new action series. The manga takes place in an era of warring states on the island of Wakoku. Twenty-four countries are at war for leadership of the island, but the story mainly focuses on the conflict between the Soukai and the Tenrou nations. After Hinata’s mother, a Soukai captain, is murdered by a
formidable Tenrou commander, she adopts her name, Hinowa, and vows to end the war. She and her friends, all of low socioeconomic status, train under an elder in the hopes of entering the battlefield and distinguishing themselves. They are finally able to join the army, but will they be prepared to face the challenges of war? The characters have developed well, considering this is only the first volume. They have already distinguished their own personalities, goals and backgrounds. From just the first five chapters, you can tell that they already have good compatibility and mesh well with one another. In addition to the main group of friends, there is also a very important secondary character, Akame — the title character from the original series washes up along the Soukai shore and briefly trains Hinowa. Unfortunately, Akame watches the action from the sidelines in
this volume due to injuries. Takahiro’s story writing has also improved since, “Akame ga Kill!” While there are still scenes containing violence and sexuality, “Hinowa ga Crush!” does not solely rely on that kind of grit to tell its story. This may be attributed to this series’ lack of focus on corruption and depravity, unlike its predecessor, though such things certainly exist in the world of the second book. Although there is a new artist behind the second book, the change was not so jarring and I welcome a new artist for this new story. However, I do miss some aspects of the original artist, Tetsuya Tashiro, and his work. He gave the first story a distinct style that can’t be replicated. The start of the series is promising. If you are a fan of war stories or action comics, “Hinowa ga Crush!” just might be the manga for you. Even if you have never read or have an interest in reading “Akame ga Kill!” the plot and characters are fresh enough that you will enjoy this series.
The 10/10/18 issue of The Signal, The College of New Jersey's student newspaper