Thursday, 2 November 2000

From "Unfree verse: John Wilkinson’s The Speaking Twins"

By Simon Jarvis.

It is, in fact, almost as though the writing were setting out to refuse two competing ideas of metrico-rhythmic expressiveness, ideas which had mostly managed to operate an excluded middle through twentieth-century Anglophone poetry—an idea, in the first place, according to which rhythmic expressiveness is absolutely dependent upon the prior existence of metrical constraints which alone make rhythmic micro-structures even perceptible, let alone expressive or significant; and another, opposite idea, according to which metre is and can only be a system of restrictive constraints which must rule out sectors of the spectrum of rhythmic expressiveness which could otherwise be allowed to become available. Few poets, and perhaps, few living individuals as such have ever believed exclusively in either of these options; rather, the questions of metre and rhythm in contemporary poetics and poetry feel permanently unsolved yet immovably blocked, rather as the fundamental questions of metaphysics have sometimes been left blocked yet unsolved by the claims of professional philosophers that these questions are ‘poorly formed’ and should therefore be deleted from the roster.

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