Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Now that an awesome, busy semester in MU's Ph.D. program is done, I have some time to think about the symposium on Elliptical poetry that everyone's been so helpful with--Joan Houlihan has been phenomenal in contacting people and providing ideas, and Josh Kryah, Kazim Ali, Carolina Ebeid, Lucie Brock-Broido, and others have been tremendously helpful. Thanks to all of you, and the many more who are helping out with it--John Tranter has kindly agreed to post one of the symposia on Jacket, and he and Reginald Shepherd have both volunteered to participate.

All of the above have helped me to think about what currently constitutes Elliptical poetry, and that thinking, in true, Elliptical fashion, has generated more questions than answers. Does Ellipticism still describe the poetics that fit Steve Burt's criteria? Does it more closely fit the particular styles of poets he described as Elliptical, since Cole Swensen, Lynn Hejinian, in ways that may not be identified as Elliptical? Has the term become conflated with the adjective that describes punctuation marks, galaxies, and workout machines? It feels like a descriptor with an exact set of coordinates, but that sense may operate the way Elliptical poems may--hinting at infinity through the cracks made by their fragmentation, and what light plays across their surfaces, with their deeper specificities kept at that depth.

Any thoughts that you have about Ellipticism will be so welcome. One of the questions I'm looking at is whether there can be said to be a divide between two primary viewpoints, 1) that Ellipticism is a distinct poetic practice, and 2) that it's a term without a fixed set of criteria. But being so binary with it may not be very Elliptical of me. I do know that the snow and sunshine in Columbia, MO right now are combining to make a kind of shine that hint at their intermingling, and I hope that you're experiencing an equally dazzling holiday.


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