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Standing in the Shower…Thinking

Unlike the Jane’s Addiction song, I don’t shower with water that’s “so piping hot.” (I don’t piss on myself either.) Still, shower thinking time is something I look forward to every morning I wake up early to go to work. Fueled by that first cup of coffee, I have a blast with, well, that double blast of wetness and whatness.

Yesterday morning, perhaps triggered by my extreme reading of, among others, Listening to Reading by Stephen Ratcliffe and Eleana Kim’s essay “Language Poetry: Dissident Practices and the Makings of a Movement,” I found myself thinking once more about what might be called the page-versus-stage debate in poetry.

Less glibly, it’s what Ann Lauterbach calls, in the “Note to the Reader” in Or To Begin Again, “the differences between spoken utterance and written text.”

  1. Experiment: write as if every word is onomatopoeic, rendering the existence of onomatopoeia moot. Every word is its sound, sound is sense, what is sensible is material.
  2. Proposal: the poem as sensorium, appealing to both sight and sound, must be readable in both senses, be readable from the page to become a poem sounded and readable as a page to become a poem seen.

Giving credit to William R. Howe for the word “pagednesse,” I will use it from now on to mean the position of the page in poetry, as opposed to say, the position of the poetry on the page. The latter is the conventional view of the poem being the words on the page, while the former considers the poem to be the words and the page on which it is set (usually but not always, according to the left-margin linearity of conventional typography).

To be continued. This needs further development. Or a quick forgetting if it proves untenable claptrap that fails to result in some kind of making.

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