Thursday, July 13, 2006

I don't know, Rob. You might have a point. I think, though, that a titleless poem, especially if it's positioned near the centre of the page, asks the reader to imagine an uninflected space or silence around it (or, as you say, the poem produces "the feeling of nothing happening before you enter"), much as most books ask the reader to shut out extraneous thoughts or noise, at least momentarily. Of course performing this act of shutting out is artificial and likely an ideal that is never actually attained. And we don't have to do what we're asked.

And of course this request on the part of the poem and the conventions on which it is based are fair game for challenge or critique.

But I think it's possible.


Blogger gary barwin said...


And I don't think blank space (or silence) is used enough to set up poems. (It's like the conductor raising her hands, waiting, not a sound yet from the orchestra,just the expectant musical canvas waiting for paint.)

I think there are different types of "canvas." There's one with a title which colours it before the poem proper begins. There's the titleless one, as you've mentioned. There is also the inflected space created by the context of the book (the previous poems, the expectations set up by the book machine, and the poetry star-making machinery) and by what the reader brings to the reading.

I'm reading (actually listening to) Don DeLillo's Cosmopolis and he gives several lovely description of poetic white space -- his Billionaire Assets Manager protagonist loves poems with blank space.

G ary

Bar w in

4:48 PM  

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