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Introduction

D. Gilson

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“That thus our everyday might never die,” Jordan Stein opines in the first entry to this collection, an echoing of not only Shakespeare, certainly himself consumed with (im)mortality, but also the 1984 hit single “Forever Young” by German pop group Alphaville. The latter has been covered and remixed many times over, used in films like Napoleon Dynamite, television shows like Queer as Folk, and commercials for Saturn and McDonald’s. And though we have many deliberate reinventions of Shakespeare’s plays — my favorite among them 1999’s 10 Things I Hate About You, an adaptation of The Taming of the Shrew staring a swoon-worthy Heath Ledger — we have decidedly fewer of his poetry.

It is easy to imagine many of us as subconsciously influenced by Shakespeare’s Sonnets in our own work; we find in these 154 “events” that which has consumed us long before their writing and long after: love and sex and death, bodies and birth and decay, the extraordinary and the everyday. Conversely, Freud describes consciousness as a “highly fugitive condition,” one which I welcomed contributors to more aptly explore in Out of Sequence: The Sonnets Remixed. If Shakespeare the auteur and his sonnets have influenced so much of how we think (and act) as humans, how might we be un- and redone by the conscious act of responding to (or through) these seventeenth century verses? Here you will find a wide variety of remixes; entries various by their form — poems, short essays, comics, songs, and art; and various by their remixer — poets, essayists, artists, musicians, and scholars. As such, I imagine these pages as a type of queer utopia, a place where things and people touch, though they are too often taught not to.

As both a poet and scholar interested in affect, I was most interested in editing this collection as a way of exploring how in a specific moment — today, the second decade of the twenty-first century — we might remix the most famous poetic sequence of all time, William Shakespeare’s The Sonnets, a sequence which constantly renders us obsessed with the past, yet out of order, misreading, responding, remixing. The submissions we received surprised me by not only their artistic value, but also their theoretical optimism. In responding to sonnet five, Jane Hoogestraat describes “a corner of the heart where summer / is always ending, but never quite.” Though in 97 we find the poet “dreading the winter’s near,” Jay Stevenson’s corresponding photograph renders the coming season a time when one may lounge in the bath, sip something warm, and be reborn. Even in the face of pandemic, like the AIDS-stricken Castro of 1986 which Alison Powell describes in remixing 119, we find ourselves returning to a pruned city, yes, but “welcomed / by the strong backs of a thousand orphaned horses, / a few kind widows who will have unmarked the doors.” Shakespeare wrote poems and plays before theory was a conscious act; and yet, what we find in his Sonnets allows for our own creative and critical work to meander not as separate, but coexistent, endeavors.

It has been an honor to curate the entries found in these pages. I must thank not only the 154 remixers, but also Ayanna Thompson for her beautiful afterword and generous mentorship. Additionally, thank you to the Department of English at The George Washington University for its support of me and for providing a home to queer exploration; thank you especially to Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, Holly Dugan, Jonathan Hsy, Alexa Huang, Connie Kiebler, Tony López, Robert McRuer, and Gayle Wald. This collection would not exist without the tireless efforts of and brotherly love given me by Will Stockton, whose remixes of scholarship and poetry not only inspire me constantly, but also make me a deeper, more creative thinker. I hope you enjoy the artifacts you find here, and that they inspire you to your own remixes in thought and on page.

D. Gilson holds an MFA from Chatham University and is completing a PhD in English at The George Washington University. He is the author of Crush (Punctum Books, 2014), with Will Stockton; Brit Lit (Sibling Rivalry, 2013); and Catch & Release (2012), winner of the Robin Becker Prize from Seven Kitchens Press. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Poetry, The Indiana Review, and The Rumpus. Find D. at dgilson.com.

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