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Kathy Acker - JPop.com
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Kathy Acker

Kathy Acker

Kathy Acker


Kathy Acker (née Karen Lehmann) (18 April 1947 – 30 November 1997) was an American experimental novelist, punk poet, playwright, essayist, postmodernist and sex-positive feminist writer. She was strongly influenced by the Black Mountain School, William S. Burroughs, David Antin, French critical theory, philosophy, and pornography. Born to a wealthy Jewish family in Manhattan, New York City, Acker took her last name from her first husband, Robert Acker; though born as Karen, she was known as Kathy by her friends and family. Read more on Last.fm
Kathy Acker (née Karen Lehmann) (18 April 1947 – 30 November 1997) was an American experimental novelist, punk poet, playwright, essayist, postmodernist and sex-positive feminist writer. She was strongly influenced by the Black Mountain School, William S. Burroughs, David Antin, French critical theory, philosophy, and pornography. Born to a wealthy Jewish family in Manhattan, New York City, Acker took her last name from her first husband, Robert Acker; though born as Karen, she was known as Kathy by her friends and family. She studied classics as an undergraduate at Brandeis University and aspired to write novels but moved to San Diego to further pursue her studies.

Acker's first work appeared in print as part of the burgeoning New York literary underground of the mid-1970s. She claimed that her early writings were profoundly influenced by her experiences working for a few months as a stripper. She remained on the margins of the literary establishment, only being published by small presses until the mid-1980s, thus earning herself the epithet of literary terrorist.[citation needed] 1984 saw her first British publication, a novel called Blood and Guts in High School. From here on Acker produced a considerable body of novels, almost all still in print with Grove Press.

She wrote pieces for a number of magazines and anthologies, and also had notable pieces printed in issues of RE/Search, Angel Exhaust and Rapid Eye. Towards the end of her life she had a measure of success in the conventional press—the Guardian newspaper published several of her articles, including an interview with the Spice Girls, which she submitted just a few months before her death. Acker's formative influences were American poets and writers (the Black Mountain poets, especially Jackson Mac Low, Charles Olson, William S. Burroughs), and the Fluxus movement, as well as literary theory, especially the French feminists and Gilles Deleuze. In her work, she combined plagiarism, cut-up techniques, pornography, autobiography, persona and personal essay to confound expectations of what fiction should be.

She acknowledged the performative function of language in drawing attention to the instability of female identity in male narrative and literary history (Don Quixote), created parallelism in characters and autobiographical personas and experimented with pronouns, upsetting conventional syntax. In In Memoriam to Identity, Acker draws attention to popular analyses of Rimbaud's life and The Sound and the Fury, constructing or revealing social and literary identity. Though she was known in the literary world for creating a whole new style of feminist prose and for her transgressive fiction, she was also a punk and feminist icon for her devoted portrayals of subcultures, strong-willed women, and violence. In April 1996 Acker was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a double mastectomy. In January 1997 she wrote about her loss of faith in conventional medicine in a Guardian article, "The Gift of Disease." In the article she explains that after unsuccessful surgery, which left her feeling physically mutilated and emotionally debilitated, she rejected the passivity of the patient in the medical mainstream and began to seek out the advice of nutritionists, acupuncturists, psychic healers, and Chinese herbalists. She found appealing the claim that instead of being an object of knowledge, as in Western medicine, the patient becomes a seer, a seeker of wisdom, that illness becomes the teacher and the patient the student.

After pursuing several forms of alternative medicine in England and the United States, Acker died a year and a half later from complications of breast cancer in an alternative cancer clinic in Tijuana, Mexico. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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