Open Oppen: linguistic fragmentation and the poetic proposition
[in special issue: Thinking Poetry]
Textual Practice, 24, (4), . (doi:10.1080/0950236X.2010.499649).
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Discusses issues of semantics and intentionality arising from syntactic fragmentation in the later poetry of George Oppen. Oppen’s reception was initially uncertain despite his Pulitzer, and one reason was his apparent willingness to make unequivocal affirmations in propositional form. My discussion follows Peter Nicholls’s meticulous analysis of a poem from Seascape: Needle’s Eye, and takes up references to Hegel on the speculative proposition, as well as intertextual references to Wallace Stevens, and Robert Duncan. After brief discussions of the contrasting modes of poetic proposition in Wordsworth and Susan Howe, the essay concludes that modernist poetry’s visible disruptions of normative linguistic structures can be approached through a study of the role of the proposition in poetry.
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