Fat Art, Thin Art

Fat Art, Thin Art

Book Pages: 168 Illustrations: Published: August 1994

Gender and Sexuality > LGBTQ Studies, Literature and Literary Studies > Poetry

Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick is best known as a cultural and literary critic, as one of the primary forces behind the development of queer and gay/lesbian studies, and as author of several influential books: Tendencies, Epistemology of the Closet, and Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire. The publication of Fat Art, Thin Art, Sedgwick’s first volume of poetry, opens up another dimension of her continuing project of crossing and re-crossing the electrified boundaries between theory, lyric, and narrative.
Embodying a decades-long adventure, the poems collected here offer the most accessible and definitive formulations to appear anywhere in Sedgwick’s writing on some characteristic subjects and some new ones: passionate attachments within and across genders; queer childhoods of many kinds; the performativity of a long, unconventional marriage; depressiveness, hilarity, and bliss; grave illness; despised and magnetic bodies and bodily parts. In two long fictional poems, a rich narrative momentum engages readers in the mysterious places—including Victorian novels—where characters, sexualities, and fates are unmade and made. Sedgwick’s poetry opens an unfamiliar, intimate, daring space that steadily refigures not only what a critic may be, but what a poem can do.


“Any new book by Sedgwick is a gift in and of itself and Fat Art, Thin Art is no exception.” — Jean Noble, icon

"Fat Art, Thin Art is a wrenchingly honest account—or enactment—of a writer’s relation to her gift. . . . filled with hesitations, self-cancellations, erasures, and gratifying fireworks. The pleasure of Fat Art, Thin Art is witnessing Sedgwick discovering, again and again, the wonders—gorgeous shames and vindications—of what she can say." — Wayne Koestenbaum

"How often the fiercest, the most autonomous American critics have been poets; from Emerson to Blackmur, from Burke to Hartman, many a discursion could be illustrated, even illuminated by reading the ulterior verse. Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick is such another, and it will enrich certain enigmas she has proposed, as well as appeal to certain appetites she has awakened, to immerse in this element—fragmentary at its widest reach (a deconstructed Victorian 3-decker), healing at its most abrupt (‘the yard, the mud, the morning / in their new, punished clothes’), and ever searching for the makings of the dilemma. Such is the true poetics of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, and of course it is the poetry as well." — Richard Howard

"Reading Fat Art, Thin Art is a thrilling experience. The publication of these poems will help to complete our picture of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick who, already recognized as one of the most extraordinary critics of her generation, now proves herself one of its truly innovative poets." — Maud Ellmann

"This is poetry of a great soul which presents to mind shapely and unmistakable presences brought very close to the eye. Fat Art, Thin Art is a work of poetic distinction and indispensable human use." — Allen Grossman


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick is Distinguished Professor of English, CUNY Graduate Center. Her many publications include A Dialogue On Love (Beacon, 1999); Tendencies (Duke, 1993); and Epistemology of the Closet (California, 1990).

Table of Contents Back to Top
"Who fed this muse?" 3

Joy. He's himself today! He knows me! 9

"Grave, never offering back the face of my dear" 10

"Guys who were 35 last year are 70 this year" 11

The Navajo Rug 12

A Vigil 13

The Use of Being Fat 15

"For years it drove me crazy" 16

Performative (Toronto) 17

Performative (San Francisco) 18

"What I would be when I grew up" 19

"Not like the clownish, friendly way you talk" 20

Sh 21

"I can tune my mind today" 22

"All I know is I woke up thinking" 23

Snapsh 24

"Crushed. Dilapidated." 25

The 58 1/2 Minute Hour 26

How Not to Be There 27

"Mobility, speech, sight" 28

"A scar, just a scar" 29

"When I got so sick it never occurred to me" 30

"Little kid at the airport practicing" 31

"In dreams they're interchangeable" 32

Our 33

"It seems there are two kinds of marriage" 34

"One of us falls asleep on the other's shoulder" 35

Not 36

Nicht Mehr Leben 37

"I'm safe so long as the single feather of our wing" 38

"In dreams on which decades of marriage haven't" 39


Trace at 46 43

An Essay on the Picture Plane 72

Everything Always Distracts 74

Sexual Hum 76

Penn Central: New Haven Line 80

Poet 82

Sestina Lente 83


The Warm Decembers 89

Note on "The Warm Decembers" 153

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-1512-4 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-1501-8
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