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1 - Attention and Play

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 November 2020

Eric Falci
Affiliation:
University of California, Berkeley
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Summary

This chapter begins from the premise that poetry affords specific modes of attention and linguistic play, and that both are central to poetry’s value. It is a truism that poems tend to require a slower, more deliberate pace of reading in order for their intricacies and meanings to become fully apparent. Our contemporary culture is deeply inattentive, with distraction, multitasking, and disengagement all symptoms of social and cultural life. Many contemporary poems push against these conditions, whether implicitly or explicitly, by offering a space for noncoercive attention. The compaction or density of poetry isn’t simply a sign of its difficulty or unapproachability, it is more centrally an index of readerly possibilities. Poems condense, arrange, and splay language. On top of language’s system of syntax and grammar, poetry places a rhythmic and sonic grid – whether based on a conventional metrical scheme or not. In part, this chapter exfoliates Roman Jakobson’s “poetic function” in order to suggest the various ways that contemporary poetry mobilizes an assortment of grids, patterns, and schemes as part of its compositional unfolding. It includes readings of poems by Paul Muldoon, Maggie O’Sullivan, Seamus Heaney, Jen Hadfield, and Harryette Mullen.

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The Value of Poetry , pp. 19 - 48
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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  • Attention and Play
  • Eric Falci, University of California, Berkeley
  • Book: The Value of Poetry
  • Online publication: 20 November 2020
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108676915.002
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  • Attention and Play
  • Eric Falci, University of California, Berkeley
  • Book: The Value of Poetry
  • Online publication: 20 November 2020
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108676915.002
Available formats
×

Send book to Google Drive

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

  • Attention and Play
  • Eric Falci, University of California, Berkeley
  • Book: The Value of Poetry
  • Online publication: 20 November 2020
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108676915.002
Available formats
×