Friday, 7 April 2000

From "Poetics"

The purpose of the term impasse as a description of contradictoriness during or before acts of writing is to provide a new optic for the interpretation of individual poems and authors, an optic that reemphasises what “formalist” criticism uninterested in psychology might decide to pass over in silence, namely, the ways in which a poem can be read as frustrated, as incompletely expressive, and as a window on “the momentum of the poet’s mind.” (40). This seems more accurate—which is to say, less sympathetically fallacious—than taking the poem in some sense to be her mind, and more accurate too than dismissing or suspending the problem of minds altogether. Contradictory, then, because the silences or contortions and shortcomings of poetic language are read as part of the poem; and contradictory too because those silences and contortions are representative of what is sometimes the specifically ethical work of generating and sustaining, or failing to generate and sustain the momentum of lyric.

No comments: