From Katy Evans-Bush’s “The Line”:
The line that ends misleadingly halfway through a phrase, which completely changes in meaning once the reader reaches the second half, is another. There is a significant tension between the ending of one line and the start of the next, and this tension can be pleasurably heightened by adding to the previously deduced meaning suddenly. If the second half of the phrase alters, rather than adds to, the meaning of the first half, it breaks the link between the two lines.
I do understand the line (pun foreseen but unintended) Evans-Bush draws here between how a line either alters or adds to the preceding one, but since the preceding line has already been read, doesn’t this mean that the succeeding line(s) will always add to it? I mean, I don’t see how it’s possible to unread a line, even if the next line appears to try to foreclose the original meaning.
I would like to read two books by Eleanor Cook: Enigmas and Riddles in Literature and Against Coercion: Games Poets Play. Both of them may, I suspect, play a role in my thesis. Here are the opening sentences from “Riddles, Charms, and Fictions in Wallace Stevens,” an essay from the latter book:
Among the many riddling poems Wallace Stevens has given us are some that are riddles structurally. That is, they cannot be read with much beyond pleasurable puzzlement until we have found the questions for which the poem provides answers.
I wish I could have cited Eleanor Cook for the last paper I wrote, since much of it was about “pleasurable puzzlement.”
Or, I could also find a copy of Northrop Frye‘s Spiritus Mundi (reviewed here), the essay collection of his that contains “Charms and Riddles,” which Cook acknowledges as a critical influence on her own work in the first of those books.
For being “the first poet in the Western tradition to take money for poetic composition,” or so claims Anne Carson in Economy of the Unlost: Reading Simonides of Keos with Paul Celan.
For being the seminal figure in the development of spatial thinking as a mnemonic aide, or so claims Joshua Foer in “Secrets of a Mind Gamer.”
For being a particularly contentious thorn in discussions of the dichotomy Plato establishes between poetry and philosophy, or so claims Adam Beresford in “Erasing Simonides.”
I am, at the moment, so intrigued by:
- Invisible Cities: not just the book by Italo Calvino (the first of his works I’ve read and still my favorite after nearly two decades), but the multimedia design project I just downloaded
- American Women Poets in the 21st Century: not only because of the poets who appear and how they’re presented in this anthology (a selection of poems is followed by a statement of poetics from the poet herself and then a critical essay about them by another), but also because its subtitle (“Where Lyric Meets Language”) is something I aspire to in my own work
- Ghostlier Demarcations: not only for borrowing (from Wallace Stevens) a great title for a book on “modern poetry and the material word,” but also because every poet Michael Davidson discusses is someone I find intriguing, if not inspirational in one way or another
- Living in Ballardian Times: not only for being the syllabus for a course on Ballard that I want to attend but one I want to teach
I think I love how online magazine Swink calls itself “a tiny light in the gloaming of literary obscurity” because I feel I could easily apply that same description to myself. Anyway, not too many poets up yet, but here are three I like a lot, with sample lines that delighted me:
- two poems by Timothy Liu (sample opening lines: “I know your mouth better / than your husband ever will.”)
- three poems by Melissa Broder (sample opening lines to “Dear Billy Collins”: “If I don’t stop using / the word fingerbang / I’ll never get to be // poet laureate.”)
- two poems by Sandra Beasley (sample lines: “I type ninety-one words a minute, all of them / Help. Yes, I speak Dewey Decimal.”)