The first major collection of poetry written in English by the flabbergasting and flamboyant Baroness Elsa, “the first American Dada.”
As a neurasthenic, kleptomaniac, man-chasing proto-punk poet and artist, the Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven left in her wake a ripple that is becoming a rip—one hundred years after she exploded onto the New York art scene. As an agent provocateur within New York's modernist revolution, “the first American Dada” not only dressed and behaved with purposeful outrageousness, but she set an example that went well beyond the eccentric divas of the twenty-first century, including her conceptual descendant, Lady Gaga.
Her delirious verse flabbergasted New Yorkers as much as her flamboyant persona. As a poet, she was profane and playfully obscene, imagining a farting God, and transforming her contemporary Marcel Duchamp into M'ars (my arse). With its ragged edges and atonal rhythms, her poetry echoes the noise of the metropolis itself. Her love poetry muses graphically on ejaculation, orgasm, and oral sex. When she tired of existing words, she created new ones: “phalluspistol,” “spinsterlollipop,” “kissambushed.” The Baroness's rebellious, highly sexed howls prefigured the Beats; her intensity and psychological complexity anticipates the poetic utterances of Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath.
Published more than a century after her arrival in New York, Body Sweats is the first major collection of Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven's poems in English. The Baroness's biographer Irene Gammel and coeditor Suzanne Zelazo have assembled 150 poems, most of them never before published. Many of the poems are themselves art objects, decorated in red and green ink, adorned with sketches and diagrams, presented with the same visceral immediacy they had when they were composed.
About the authors
Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven (1874–1927) was an artist and poet in Berlin, Munich, New York, and Paris.
Irene Gammel holds a Canada Research Chair in Modern Literature and Culture at Ryerson University in Toronto, where she is also the Director of the Modern Literature and Culture Research Center dedicated to the study of modern women writers. The author and editor of 13 books, Gammel is the curator of the exhibit Anne of Green Gables: A Literary Icon at 100. Together with Suzanne Zelazo she has co-edited Body Sweats: The Uncensored Writings of Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven (2010) and Crystal Flowers: Poems and a Libretto by Florine Stettheimer (BookThug, 2010). Gammel divides her time between Toronto and Sackville, New Brunswick.
Suzanne Zelazo is a writer, editor, educator, and former professional triathlete who continues to coach cycling, running and triathlon. She holds a PhD in English with a specialty in female modernism and avant-garde poetry and performance. She has worked in commercial sport publishing, founded and ran the small press literary magazine Queen Street Quarterly, and has taught literature and writing courses at York University and Ontario College of Art and Design University. Her scholarly publications include the co-edited collections Body Sweats: The Uncensored Writings of Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven (2010) and Crystal Flowers: Poems and a Libretto by Florine Stettheimer (BookThug, 2010). She is also the author of two poetry collections, Parlance and Lances All Alike. Her projects seek to integrate creative expression and the body. Zelazo lives in Toronto.
Other titles by Irene Gammel
I Can Only Paint
The Story of Battlefield Artist Mary Riter Hamilton
New Directions in Multimodal Modernism
Poems and a Libretto
Looking for Anne
How Lucy Maud Montgomery Dreamed Up a Literary Classic
Gender, Dada, and Everyday Modernity-A Cultural Biography