The question of our respective and prospective thesis topics in my Poetics course was suddenly raised, pop-quiz style, last Wednesday. I babbled a bit about fragmentation and Chad Davidson calling poetry “the rebellion of language against the tyranny of meaning,” but all it did was remind me about how far I needed to go to think this through.
(I also thought about–but decided not to mention–Theodor Adorno, his suspicion of “identity thinking and instrumental reason,” his championing of art as “non-identity,” his decision to go aphoristic in Minima Moralia, his views on punctuation, etc.)
A classmate recommended Stephen Dobyns, but while I enjoyed reading some of his poems and this really long interview, I find myself puzzled. This is precise the kind of poetry and poetics that I don’t want to explore in my own work. (That said, he is rather entertaining, and I wouldn’t mind reading more from and about him.)
In terms of contemporary writing, I’m more interested in the poems of, say, Rachel Zucker. (I’m also trying to read Cate Marvin and Clayton Eshleman, but the jury’s still out on how relevant those two will be to the work I’m hoping to explore.)
The poetics of Lyn Hejinian attract me, too, for different reasons. Her philosophical approach to language and subjectivity and her views on closure seem to me relevant; I certainly need time to spend more time with her.
Another classmate recommended “the Ann(e)s,” as he laughingly put it: Anne Carson, especially work like this, and Ann Lauterbach, whose “Alice in the Wasteland” (excerpt) intrigues me but not as much as her essay “On Flaws: Toward a Poetics of the Whole Fragment” (God, I so want to read that!).
“Planchette Interpretation: A Short Guide to Reading Letters from the Dead” by Arlene Ang is a great abecedarius, and I like the somewhat Oulipian way she simultaneously works under a constraint without losing the fragmentary aspect.