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Reading Error

The Lyric and Contemporary Poetry


Nerys Williams

This book considers the development of the lyric form in recent American poetry of the past three decades. By concentrating on the writing of three poets associated with language writing, Charles Bernstein, Michael Palmer and Lyn Hejinian, the discussion considers the attempts of contemporary poetry to problematise the identification of the lyric as a static model of subjectivity. Central considerations motivating the discussion are: How do contemporary lyric poets negotiate the propositions posed by postmodern thought? What reading of lyricism can one formulate once the self is displaced from centre stage and an ‘experience’ of language takes its place? The book proposes that an aesthetic of error enables us to approach the reconfiguration of the lyric in recent innovative poetry. Drawing from elements of modernist poetic practice, psychoanalytic theory, language philosophy and critical theory this book pursues methods for understanding the demands placed upon the reader of contemporary poetry.
Contents: Language Writing and the Lyric – Error, Malapropisms, ‘Ideolects’ and ‘Knowing’ a Language in Charles Bernstein’s Dark City and Rough Trades – Whose Language: Charles Bernstein Reading Cavell, Reading Wittgenstein – Michael Palmer’s Lyric and ‘Nobody’s Voice’ – Ungrammaticalities and Intertextuality in Michael Palmer’s Sun and Letters to Zanzotto – Erring in Lyn Hejinian’s Poetry of the 1980s – ‘There is no one correct path’: Lyn Hejinian’s Prepoetics – Lyric from L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E into the 21st Century.