reading revival: a poetry book blog

reading revival is devoted to promoting australian poetry books and related discussion through reading one book - firstly, duty by geraldine mckenzie. i will choose a new book roughly every 3 months

Saturday, April 08, 2006

more about influence ... mckenzie reminds me of truffaut (ive been watching the last metro) in her dramatic intensity and unpulled punches. but i dont want to suggest mckenzie is just a tissue - not even a strong tissue - of influences. words may not be orginal - may suggest the fold, where theyve been before.. - but what we bring to writing those words - the force is its own thing: mckenzie is herself; duty is itself.


At 6:55 PM, Blogger S.J. Holland-Batt said...

Finally, time to say a little somthing on Duty. I think you're right--although there's a strong underweave of intertextuality in Duty, I think it would be reductive to try and pidgeonhole McKenzie as language, postlanguage, or surrealist, just as it would to suggest that just because her work is rich with its literary inheritance, it's a tissue of influence. What I like most about McKenzie's fleeting allusions is that, in the context of the poems, they become subsumed into something else entirely; into her own poetic project. She reminds me of Gertrude Stein in places--"Meadowbright, maystrife, newly swelled, a definite itch"--but somehow the experience for the reader in Duty is less estranging from lanugage than reading Stein. Language as a tissue is a nice metaphor; McKenzie is refolding the it, and crossing old creases from a new angle. Reading Peter Rose's review on the Paper Bark site, I think Rose is right- McKenzie is so suggestive, and her command of language so elastic, that the experience of reading will vary radically from reader to reader (and, of course, lazy readers won't get much out of it), but I don't think it's such a bad thing for poetry to demand a bit of rigor. Among the poems in Duty, I find some opaque, but I think there's a pleasure to be found in that opaqueness; in the text that resists the reader; in language as a wall.

At 4:52 AM, Blogger michaelf said...

language as an exercise yard ... what makes stein less estranging is her humour - but her serious project sets up ways of using language, of thinking about representation, that a wide stream of poetry & poetics owes something to - & her aphorisms are as good as wilde's tho they apply to writing more than to starting to think of duty as something resembling a new gnostic template .. tho that sounds like im straying into idiosyncratic blurbdom..


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