Much of the writing by Claude Cahun, a heroine of E. Tracy Grinnell, is a struggle against masquerade. Cahun’s endless confession of her difficulties of confessing leads to an indeterminate or uncharted space outside the human, as when she removes her makeup and “my soul, like a flayed face, naked, no longer had a human form” or as when she observes that “Clothed at the foot of my bed I realize it would be necessary to peel my dress off—and that my skin would come off with it.” At issue here is the notion that masquerade, traditionally conflated with “womanliness” as an identity, also involves (as Judith Butler notes) becoming the object one forbids oneself to love. Cahun’s work stages a constant agon with this concept as a way to make space for articulating her desire as a lesbian woman. I think something very similar happens with the position of the “I” in E. Tracy Grinnell’s poetry. Inhabited partially by language, partially by the author, but mostly by avatars who refer to mythic historical women such as Helen or Sappho, Grinnell stages the slippage of this I as a struggle to speak given the cultural parameters she has to work with. The result is a “speaking from the beyond” effect, an odd furtive slippage of language which stages ecstasy through an acute attention to sound patterns, breath, and tonal inflection. Butler notes in Precarious Life that “To be ex-static means, literally, to be outside oneself, and thus can have several meanings: to be transported beyond oneself by a passion, but also to be beside onself with rage or grief. I think that if I can still address a ‘we’ or include myself within its terms, I am speaking to those of us who are living in certain ways beside ourselves.” I have been a great fan of Grinnell’s poetry for many years now, and it’s a honor to welcome her to the EOAGH Reading series today.