what puzzles me
after forty years
people think my words
fall accidentally
even close friends
see the pieces
and want them to fit
into parts they know
I too desire
an easy answer
to come to me
like love
when I was young
and fell quickly
like words
on this page
(March 2012)


  1. subtext says:

    Yes, New Criticism, I felt was always bizarre. It is, still, the default, although not so much dominant, lit-crit methodology (most definitely for AP testing). It is not normally spelled out as such, students are just taught to read literature that way. The main focus was close reading on the text without bringing in outside information, like bio, or time period etc. The text itself contained the meaning. Of course, what the reader brings to the text is just as important. One of the reasons I like Rosenblatt's reader response theory: Everything matters: the reader, the author and the text. I imagine it as a twirling triangle where the focus shifts from one point to another very quickly, until the meaning takes place somewhere in the middle. I suppose that is why I am also attracted to Bhabha' s cultural identity stuff; meaning occurs in the liminal spaces.
    The danger of course is over-interpreting, or under interpreting depending on what you bring to the text. Wallace Stevens was not an “occasional” writer, meaning he did not write about specific instances from his life, however, a specific instance/occasion was a catalyst for the poems. So yes, everything is bio, while at the same time, it is not. Everything moves in the direction of reality. But I think it lives in irreality, our twisted and warped epistemologies. (not to say there is an ontic base to judge the epistemes.)


  2. Carl says:

    I did not know about bio not mattering, but I have not formally studied schools in lit theory. Interestiing. Bizarre, even. I thought everything is bio.

    I have always thought the lines between fiction and non fiction were blurry, even as a teenager. After all, myth is always true. And your interest is fascinating to me because this is the issue about sacred poetry. E. G. I believe less and less in the Bible, but it is truer to me now than ever. Nice Stevens quote.

    “Subjective truth is precisely the daring venture of choosing the objective uncertainty with the passion of the infinite.” –Søren Kierkegaard


  3. subtext says:

    Absolutely: transactional reader response theory. But my first trainIng in lit theory was “new criticism:” where bio does not matter. Also one of my current poetics: is poetry fiction or non fiction? Or as Wallace Stevens wrote in “Notes to a Supreme Fiction:” “that everything tends to become real, or rather, that everything moves in the direction of reality, that is to say in the direction of fact.” it is the trends and movement and the direction before the “facts” which interest me at the moment.


  4. Carl says:

    Reader creates meaning, no?


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