This month for our first send of 2021 we are going to be sending Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson alongside an artwork by Clem Macleod. Worms is a female focused literary project that creates a diverse space for the discovery and exploration of female writers old and new. We spoke to Clem about her inspirations and he favorite writers that include Kathy Acker, Chris Kraus, Clarice Lispector and Anne Carson, who loosely inspired the next issue of her magazine which you can pre-order here.
At a time of intense accessibility, being able to know virtually everything about anything can sometimes take away from the mystique and allure of authors. Carson has managed to retain an air of mystery around herself and is famously private about her personal life, yet her work is imbued with a distinctly personal mood exploring desire, love, tragedy and death. While she refutes any overly personal interpretations of her writing their poetic and comedic style give parts of her writing an intimate and almost confessional tone while remaining untainted and uninfluenced by any context of the writer.
She currently teaches in America and specialises in Ancient Greek mythology, the stories from which serve as the main inspiration for most of her books. Autobiogpraphy of Red blends classical literature with modern tropes. Loosely based on the myth of Geryon and the Tenth Labor of Herakles, Carson metaphorically reimagines the Greek monster Geryon as a moody, artsy, gay teenage boy navigating the difficulties of sex and love and identity to create this distinctively original work that is unparalleled by any other writer.
Carson is famously enigmatic and private, which I think is so admirable at a time where you can literally send authors instagram messages and see what they're eating for breakfast (not that I don't absolutely love seeing the contents of Eileen Myles' bedside table). But I love this quote from a New York Times article in which the journalist has an email exchange with her and she says about writing "we’re talking about the struggle to drag a thought over from the mush of the unconscious into some kind of grammar, syntax, human sense; every attempt means starting over with language. starting over with accuracy. i mean, every thought starts over, so every expression of a thought has to do the same. every accuracy has to be invented. . . . i feel i am blundering in concepts too fine for me"
I discovered Anne Carson because The White Review published this brilliant interview with her https://www.thewhitereview.org/feature/interview-anne-carson/ one week later I found 'A Biography of Red' at Shakespeare and Co and curled up to read the entire thing in a corner of the bookshop. Now I know more and continue to learn and be inspired. Warren just told me 'I just want to speak to her.' Her work is limitless, vibrant and concise and we can't recommend it more. x -Gemma
"Throughout her prolific career as a poet and a translator, Anne Carson has been concerned with combatting what she calls ‘the boredom of storytelling’. As she explained to Michael Silverblatt on stage at an event last year, ‘When your thinking is still, watching TV or whatever, thinking the same thing you’ve always thought, you might as well be dead… Living happens when your thought moves.’ To read Carson is to feel the parameters of poetry, translation and story-making move and unsettle. Or, to borrow a phrase of Carson’s, to watch someone ‘undo the latches’ of ordinary understanding."
"Was it Ovid who said, There is so much wind here stones go blank"