Carolyn Yalkut

The Writer

Carolyn Yalkut's newest play is Everywoman, a comedy about catastrophe.  Last summer, she conducted research in France and Italy for her next play, Bastards, whose characters include the twelfth-century philosopher Peter Abelard; his wife, the remarkable Heloise; and the nineteenth-century opera composer Giuseppe Verdi. An excerpt from her book-in-progress,Egocentric and Invisible: Innovation and Tradition in American Journalism, will appear in the Fall 2013 Norman Mailer Review.  Her poems have been published in Confrontation, West Hills Review, Northeast Journal, Webster Review, and Poet and Critic. She is the former Director of Journalism and Director of English Honors at the University at Albany, where she is an Associate Professor.

headshot of Carolyn

Excerpts

  • from The Solace of Summer Is the Solstice :

                      Without pause
    the plane peals a parabola
    of speed like a bell over
    England. The bicycle balances
    and rests by leaning into the air.
    The birds find the entrances
    to the hemisphere. The solstice
    is 55 North and 1 West,
    England, or y = x square.

  • from Etymology :

    Outdoors & indoors, everything is unmowed:
    the universe is sloppy, harvesting
    its ambers, saffrons, golds and yellows
    once a year only. There are fields
    mowers have left unmowed
    all around the world, leaves
    no one will ever harvest,
    an uncollected anthology
    of yellow
    yellow, yellow, yellow, yellow!

  • from Bastards  (Prologue -- A Medieval Mime) :

    A schoolroom, table, two chairs. Enter MAN (ABELARD)  dressed in scholar's robe, carrying a book. Declaims to multitudes (in audience's direction).  OLD MAN in church vestments enters , applauding, then brings YOUNG WOMAN (HELOISE)  onstage. OLD MAN presents YOUNG WOMAN to MAN.  OLD MAN waves forefinger in YOUNG WOMAN''s face, warning HER to be good, then pushes YOUNG WOMAN toward MAN and exits. MAN offers YOUNG WOMAN a chair at the table. Both sit and read book together. With each page she turns, MAN is increasingly impressed. MAN rises to declaim. YOUNG WOMAN mimics MAN's gestures. Ecstatic, MAN declares his love. YOUNG WOMAN declares her love. THEY embrace. OLD MAN enters, facing away from couple. MAN and YOUNG WOMAN hastily resume places at table. Observing such proper studiousness, OLD MAN exits. Immediately, MAN sweeps book off table and lifts HELOISE onto table. MAN and YOUNG WOMAN make love — on the table, in the chair, leaning over the table-edge, under the table — always declaring love in between each change of position. MAN and YOUNG WOMAN are passionately conjoined when OLD MAN re-enters. OLD MAN separates them violently.  YOUNG WOMAN reaches under skirt, presents DOLL to MAN. MAN flings DOLL away. OLD MAN produces cleaver, lifts MAN's gown, strikes. Triumphantly bearing penis aloft, OLD MAN EXITS. YOUNG WOMAN dons nun's wimple and exits, stage left. MAN dons monk's hood, exits, stage right. Empty stage, except for abandoned DOLL.

  • from The Tickbird's Song to the Rhinoceros :

    Love poems, farewell!
    Who hears the tickbird's song to the rhinoceros?
    Not even the rhinoceros listens.
    Love poems, farewell!

  • from Egocentric and Invisible: Innovation and Tradition in American Journalism :

    In the manner of the metaphysical poets and the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century English divines, and the American Puritans and their descendants the Transcendentalists, Mailer sees universes of meaning in minutiae, infuses everyday events with cosmic meaning. Mailer is as much a microcosm as John Donne.

  • from The Double Helix in Mailer and Hemingway's Work :

    Devout as any religious about what he has "instead of God," treating artistic integrity and the purification of style as a kind of individual salvation attained only through renunciation in the life and the work — so many components of Hemingway's credo are inescapably Puritan. Immersed in the water, fishing, casting his sandwich bread on the river, drinking the coffee according to Hopkins, solemnly intoning "Geezus Crise," Hemingway suggests a Puritan reformer of literature. Ernest Hemingway concluded his most journalistic fiction where Norman Mailer arrived: with a religious impulse, with reverence. The strands of the Hemingway and Mailer helixes come together.

  • from Rebellion and Prophesy in Norman Mailer's Journalism :

    Mailer's sentences are not only the final polished products of his pen, but contain his thought processes leading up to the final version. His sentences are improvisatory in structure, clause tumbling after clause, skidding against each other, the rhythm slowing and quickening as Mailer's thoughts race to a finish, sidestepping because of a digression or an association, arriving finally at the end of the sentence, and the period.

  • from Tall-Tale Journalism: How H.L. Mencken Told the Truth By Lying :

    Whether we have this pudgy, pugnacious provocateur to thank for our own pudgy pundits, whether Mencken's aggressive verbal pyrotechnics predestined the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, overlooks what may be his major influence on American journalism: not only is Mencken the feisty grandaddy of conservative punditry, he is also the prevailing spirit behind the previous generation's liberal New Journalism. It is Mencken we have to thank for some of the excesses of trash television as well as the successes of some of the best literary nonfiction of our time.

  • from Building a Skyscraper :

    A helicopter circles and drops
    a mile-long cable:
    the work begins.
    Derricks swing, bullwheels spin, men shout,
    clanging their wrenches on the girders, one for "yes," two for "no," three for "thanks,"
    the clear clang of a single wrench on a steel plank
    singing over the roar of compressors, jackammers, ironwork.

  • from Everywoman :

    MIDWIFE

    Touch. Nothing is more intimate than touch. Every patient responds differently to touch. The lithotomy position can be frightening and painful. Never met anyone who liked it. A guy at the proctologist's? (gestures)  Bends over. Simple. But a woman takes off all her clothes and lies back. Nothing on but a backwards rattyass rag flappin' in the breeze. Her head's down, her feet are up, and her ass is somewhere in between. Then you take this vaginal vise and screw it into inner organs. Tighten the screws. Then you pry apart . . . her parts. For a woman who has been abused sexually, it must feel like gynecological rape. So the first time I see the patient, I touch her, the lightest of touches, noninvasively, to see how she responds to . . . touch.

Contact

Call or write:
Carolyn Yalkut
Humanities 317
University at Albany
1400 Washington Avenue
Albany, NY 12222
518-442-4065