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Line and Phrase

For those interested in what Ann Lauterbach has to say about her own poetics, other online resources may be more comprehensive or intensive, but two reviews of  her 2009 collection Or to Begin Again address two of my current poetic preoccupations. (Oddly–at least from a Gray Wolf Press point of view–I’m talking about line and syntax.)

There’s more to be found in the reviews themselves; I’ve simply picked three statements that I thought were pithy enough to paste below. If I had hard copies of these, I would have already marked these passages with a highlighter:

Michael D. Snediker’s piece for Rain Taxi is centered on the geometry he sees at work in Lauterbach’s collection, but the following statements are more about the poetic line per se than its geometric or figural counterpart:

  1. “Linear vivacity is suggested in this poetry’s predilection for the parade—a line made raucous, celebratory, symbolic, navigatory (more simply, moving)…”
  2. “The line, as both collective and formal denominator, is uncontainable…”
  3. “The line is a path, a sequitur…”

Vincent Katz’s piece for Jacket contain what seems to me useful strategies for reading Lauterbach’s work. While he does talk about “want[ing] to graduate to reading her line by line,” he opts for a more productive starting approach that deals with “single words [that] stand out and can be read as a thread, apart from the safety of their lines,” as well as what I’d like to call the syntax of the phrase:

  1. “by paying close attention to its phrases, one finds them echoing and interlocking—or rather repeatedly locking and unlocking, in new iterations, with different possible readings”
  2. “Lauterbach’s method — composition not by field, though, as we have seen, she makes great use of the arena (or area) of the page, but rather composition by phrase”
  3. “Because no narrative is begun or concluded, each phrase begins from immediacy, that is, from some bodily, perceptual, calling or inkling.”

Katz also talks about Lauterbach’s use of parentheses, and I was struck by a remark he himself encloses in parentheses: “(parentheses, unlike ellipses, including instead of excluding).” It’s a simple, even obvious, statement, but one especially useful for emphasizing the “whole” in what Lauterbach has often called “the whole fragment.”

3 thoughts on “Line and Phrase

  1. Pingback: Levertov’s Line « Editions of You

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  3. Pingback: Standing in the Shower…Thinking « Editions of You

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