Type of Document Dissertation Author Byrd, Brigitte URN etd-09212003-185934 Title Fence Above The Sea Degree Doctor of Philosophy Department English, Department of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title David Kirby Committee Chair S.E. Gontarski Committee Member Sheila Ortiz-Taylor Committee Member William Cloonan Committee Member Keywords
- A Collection Of Prose Poems
Date of Defense 2003-08-02 Availability unrestricted Abstract“Fence above the Sea” is a collection of prose poems written in sequences.
Writing in the line of Emily Dickinson, Gertrude Stein, and Lynn Hejinian, I experiment with
language and challenge its convention.
While Dickinson writes about “the landscape of the soul,” I write about the landscape of the mind. While she appropriates and juxtaposes words in a strange fashion, I juxtapose fragments of sentences in a strange fashion. While she uses dashes to display silence, I discard punctuation, which is disruptive and limits the reader to a set reading of the sentence. Except for the period.
Stein’s writing is the epitome of Schklovsky’s concept of ostranenie (defamiliarization).
Like her poems in Tender Buttons, my poems present a multiplied perspective. On the moment.
Like Stein, I write dialogical poems where there is a dialogue among words and between words
and their meanings. Also, I expect a dialogue between words and readers, author and readers,
text and readers. My prose poems focus on sentences “with a balance of their own. . . the
balance of space completely not filled but created by something moving as moving is not as
moving should be” (Stein, “Poetry and Grammar”). Repetitions are essential in everyday life, to
the thought process, and thus in this collection.
Like Stein, language poets are exponents from ostranenie, and the results are flatness of
tone, experimentation with syntax, and decontextualization of words. I work within the same parameters. Also, I am making a political statement with this collection by asking the reader to be active and react to the text instead of being fed a poetry that is made a commodity for
consumption. I particularly agree with Hejinian’s aesthetics and poetics: “the ‘open text’ often
emphasizes or foregrounds process. . . and thus resists the cultural tendencies that seek to
identify and fix material and turn it into a product” (Hejinian, The Language of Inquiry). Each
poem from “Fence above the Sea” is an experiment with the thought that each sentence is a story
and that a poem is an open text which is the mind.
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