December 9, 2014 at 5:04 pm

PBS Weekly Poem: ‘J. Allyn Rosser Finds Deeper Meaning through Humor’

Dr. J. Allyn Rosser, Associate Professor of English at Ohio University, was featured on PBS Newshour’s Weekly Poem feature on Dec. 8 about her new book Mimi’s Trapeze.

Mimi's Trapeze book coverMimi’s Trapeze, a new book by J. Allyn Rosser, starts with a quote by Balzac in the original French. The poet translates it roughly as, “Being human — what an appalling condition! in which every happy moment depends on an ignorance of some sort.” Or in other words, ignorance is bliss.

“This is an awful thing to say and such a true thing to say,” Rosser told Art Beat.

“You think about elation over getting a promotion, or winning an award, or someone you love tells you they love you back. Well, what if the promotion was some political fluke, the award had nothing to do with our deserving it because of skill or effort and that this person you love is secretly seeing or longing for someone else. These things happen every day and yet our happiness depends on them.”

J. Allyn Rosser

J. Allyn Rosser

That perspective may be bleak, but Rosser hears humor in it, and that humor is essential to the way she tackles serious subjects.

“Humor is my version of when Emily Dickinson said, ‘Tell the truth, but tell it slant.’” Humor has a way of sidestepping reader resistance, she says.

Read the rest of Victoria Fleischer’s article.

Listen to Rosser read “Children’s Children Speech” from her new collection Mimi’s Trapeze.

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