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Karen J. Ford

Phone: 541-346-3902
Office: 401 Tykeson Hall
Office Hours: By appt. through Jules Jones (


I work on nineteenth- and twentieth-century American poetry and poetics. I am interested in the politics of literary form--how writers employ poetic forms for social and political purposes. My first book, Gender and the Poetics of Excess, explores the extravagant writing styles of some women poets who simultaneously parody the stereotype of the gabby female and demand a place for their words in a literary tradition that is inhospitable to women writers. My second, Split-Gut Song: Jean Toomer and the Poetics of Modernity, investigates how Toomer and other modernist writers equated certain poetic forms with specific racial or national identities. I am currently at work on a book about race and poetic form, trying to understand the processes by which some forms--the sonnet, ballad, haiku, or free verse, for instance--are "racialized," given a racial content or asked to do racial work in the literary culture. How does Native American poet Gerald Vizenor, for example, come to view Japanese haiku as a form that can record his Anishinaabe oral heritage?


Publications include: Split-Gut Song: Jean Toomer & The Poetics of Modernity; Gender and the Poetics of Excess: Moments of Brocade; “The Sonnets of Satin-Legs Brooks”; “Marking Time in Native America: Haiku, Elegy, Survival”; and “The Fight and the Fiddle in African American Poetry.”