Terra (In)cognita: The Practice of Place in Postwar Poetics and Beyond
Siklosi, Catherine Mary Beth
MetadataShow full item record
In response to the spatial turn in critical and scientific discourses, this dissertation examines the reassertion of space and place in the work of Black Mountain poets Charles Olson and Robert Duncan, Black Mountain affiliate Amiri Baraka, and Tish writers Fred Wah and Daphne Marlatt. The critical reassertion of space in the postwar period produced poetries that rigorously explore the transgressive potential of the spatial subject and the spatial community in place. The most significant poetic counterpart to come about in response to the spatial turn in North America is Olsons and Duncans fundamental poetic theory of composition by field, wherein the poem is conceived of and created as a kinetic field of interacting elements. The field poetic influenced a New American open verse form that was highly influential in the United States in the 1960s and produced a new generation of projective poets in Canada thereafter. Primarily, this project traces the foundation and development of, and significant challenges to, the projective open field poetic as a means of producing place both on and off the page. As a mode of (re)producing locality, the field poetic gave Olson and Duncan a sense of poetrys reflection of, and participation in, the dynamic surrounding environment both within the poem and in the world. By means of projective verse, poem and poet became imbricated in a responsive system whereby the processes of the poem and those of the local environment are co-constructive, forming a dynamic hermeneutic of the place from which the poet writes. Composing poetry in this way extends beyond an aesthetic form to become, using Joan Retallacks term, a poethica practice of living and creating in place. The field model as established by Olson and Duncanand adapted and extended by Baraka, Wah, and Marlattthus links experimental poetic process with social awareness through a practice of place, a concept I adopt from Michel de Certeau and develop poetically in the project to mean the act of reading, writing, and producing place against structures of spatial control such as the nation, the multicultural agenda of the State, and patriarchy.