Poetic Dehiscence: Readings at the ‘Upper Limit’
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This essay uses Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s concept of phenomenological ‘deshiscence’ to perform readings of poems that happen at or around Zukofsky’s ‘upper limit.’ ‘Dehiscence,’ for Merleau-Ponty, describes an interface of subjective and objective modes of experience; in the essay I explore some of the ways in which poems enact dehiscence in language. I do this by close-reading particular syntactical and musical structures in which aural and semantic sense is doubled or conflicted. The techniques described include polyrhythm, counterpoint, and puns. Poets include Gerard Manley Hopkins, Wallace Stevens, Gertrude Stein, Louis Zukofsky, Hart Crane, Gwendolyn Brooks, Jennifer Scappettone, and Joyelle McSweeney.
- English