Literary reviews by Tim Love.
Warning: Rather than reviews, these are often notes in preparation for reviews that were never finished, or pleas for help with understanding pieces. See Litref Reviews - a rationale for details.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

"Broken English" by Heather McHugh (Wesleyan Univ Press, 1993)

Her main point is that poetry is fractured -

  • "[Poetry] is a broken language from the beginning, brimming with non-words: all that white ... the making of lines is the breaking of lines" (p.3)
  • "If you yearn for wholeness, maybe you need fiction" (p.4)
  • "All poetry is fragment: it is shaped by its breakages, at every turn ... The poem is not only a piece, like other pieces of art; it is a piece full of pieces" (p.75)

She points out that "Valéry is like the Picasso in Gertrude Stein's declaration that "Most of the time we see only a portion of the person with us, the other parts are hidden by a hat or clothes or by light or shadow. Every one is accustomed to completing the whole entirely by memory. But when Picasso saw a single eye, the other ceased to exist for him." And so with Valéry: each is all, there is no MISSING wholeness", (p.66)

She spends a chapter on Tom Phillips' "A Humument"

She deals with some other matters too, e.g. that 1st person is very different to 2nd and 3rd, just as the present is very different from the past and the future. Though each concept is compartmentalised into 3 parts, the parts aren't at all equal.

In "A Genuine Article" she considers the use of "a" and "the" - "When "the bear comes out of the woods", he'd been known or mentioned before; when "a bear comes out of the woods", it's somewhat more alarming", p.87. She have several examples of the distinction from Beckett.

She quotes a Yoruba poem called "Death" which impressed me.

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