Jena Osman

Andrew W. Mellon Regional Fellow in the Humanities

20052006 Forum on Word and Image

Jena Osman

Temple, Associate Professor, English and Creative Writing

Visual Poetics

Prof Osman's work, both creative and critical writing, has always been engaged with concepts of hybridity. She is currently involved with two projects, a photo essay-poem entitled "Public Figures" and a critical essay on visual poets entitled "Is Poetry the News?". 

"Public Figures" will be a long poem mixed with photo essay. Incorporating photos of public sculpture in Philadelphia—primarily figures carrying weapons—Dr. Osman will present two points of view: that of the gazing spectator and that of the sculpted figure itself. She hopes to awaken the reader to the narratives that are often invisibly situated in local public spaces. 

Dr Osman's essay "Is Poetry the News?" is one in a collection of essays on which she is currently working, tentatively titled "Combinatory Poetics: Essays in Hybrid Forms." In this piece, she begins with the contrast between Alfredo Jaar, a visual artist who uses text, and Cecilia Vicuna, a visual poet. While both look for a way for art to function politically and "poetically" without being deactivated by the aesthetics of their chosen forms, Jaar and Vicuna offer strikingly different responses. Dr. Osman concludes with an examination of four poets—Bern Porter, Hannah Weiner, Kenny Goldsmith, and Kristin Prevallet—who have created visual poems using the newspaper as their starting point.