Reprise from Touch by Gabriel Josipovici:

For it is never possible to tell in advance where the boundaries will be or even if they exist.

Which resonates nicely with this opening line from “The Surprises of the Superhuman” by Wallace Stevens:

The palais de justice of the chambermaids

The straining after sense is a habit hard to break; it keeps one reading even in the allusive style but elusive syntax offered up by Clint Burnham in this excerpt from Buddyland which frustrates as much as it rewards:

under each when man gut daschshund
Handel man, he’s the greatest
take the money and run has an approval
I sit known no emerald city

This is writing that is enticing and stand offish — it’s whorish. The delivery depends on what you pay: sit city become sin city or arisen out of it. Similarly counting Stevens among the whorish poets may seem like a rebuke but it is not — it is an acknowledgement of its reeling you in to make you pay more: attention to what has been cast off or what would be valued less (but not valueless). [JUST try and make sense of the two stanzas that compose the classic “The Emperor of Ice-Cream” — see how the lines from the first (“Let be the finale of seem.”) comment in some sort of foreshadowing upon the corresponding line in the second (“Let the lamp affix its beam”).]

If poetry resists understanding it is for a purpose. Or so the critic leads us to believe. Even if that purpose is a Kantian repurposing of the purposeless. Ends for themselves.

And to conclude with prose! And a paean to work…

If the canon turns out to be subversive, and a slogan turns out to be literature, then the work we do as critics, as teachers, as readers, turns out to have implications for our everyday lives, as well as for the social world that we inhabit.

From Clint Burnham The only poetry that matters: reading the Kootenay School of Writing.

And so for day 882

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