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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Robert Sheppard: The Meaning of Form: From the Temporal to the Spatial (and Kamau Brathwaite)

I was writing about


the gradual re-forming of many contemporary forms of poetry from the temporal axis to the spatial axis. The ubiquity and ease of new technologies has made the visual disposition of text simpler to manipulate, to create complex effects, and there is a growth in ‘visual poetry’ that seems to owe little to classic concrete poetry. Attridge says such poems ‘use spatial arrangement to create effects in part by resisting the expectation that poems occur in time,’ which might be a formal shift of some consequence. (Attridge 2004: 72)


And later I find myself writing this analogous passage:


But perhaps the future lies elsewhere, in the example of Barbadian poet Kamau Brathwaite’s combination of his rooted ‘nation language’ with his deconstructions of page and screen in what he calls his ‘Sycorax Video Style’, which, deliberately ‘anti-elegant in shape’, in the words of Joyelle McSweeney, presents ‘an array of pumped-up lo-fi typefaces’. (MacSweeney 2013: np) Often re-moding his earlier poems, he escapes received pronunciation and the decorum of British ex- and neo-colonialist speech and language, as well as breaking the formal bounds of the equally imperial iambic pentameter, by adopting the visual aspects of word-processing (this being another shift from the temporal to the spatial in contemporary poetics, as noted earlier with reference to visual innovative sonnets).



See the rest of The Meaning of Form project here.