Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Moving Scene: The Poetry and Poetics of Description

Ok kids, I'm up way past my bedtime, but wanted to share this with you, since chances are you couldn't or didn't make it to the live version. Herewith, my talk at UNB on Monday. Two mp3s: 1)the talk 2)the discussion that followed. Voices in the discussion that aren't mine belong to Ross Leckie, Ian Letourneau and UNB doctoral candidate Lisa Jodoin.

In case the embedded player doesn't give you both mp3s, here's the link to the page where the recordings are archived.


Brenda Schmidt said...

Ok, that is an outstanding talk. A published version is a must.

Would you recommend the book Self Comes to Mind?

Zachariah Wells said...

Thanks, Brenda. I'm planning to shop it around once I get a bit of time.

I would recommend it highly, yes. Very interesting stuff, the sort of stuff that I think anyone who is writing lyric poetry should read. The epigraph to the book is a quote from Pessoa--more proof that some poets were ahead of the neuroscience curve.

Brian Palmu said...

Thanks for the talk, and for posting it.

I like your inclusive attitude towards description as serving a variety of different purposes.

But I have trouble with your later assertion that "at least one can't argue about description". Wouldn't this depend -- as in the above paragraph -- on the ends to which description is employed? I'm thinking here of how much description is derided, not in a philosophic sense (the postmoderns' suspicion of creating honest images from remembered, subjective inscapes), but in not knowing if the poet/speaker has even been to the place the scene or physical detail is drawn from?

Here, I side firmly with the often derided Romantic position, most notably in Shelley's approach, of imagination over mimesis (but only when the poem calls for it). But this seems to be a finger-wagging admonition from many quarters -- that describing a place, an event therefrom, and especially any particulars, can't even be approached without the author having been steeped in a kind of Clarean familiarity.

Zachariah Wells said...

I think I actually said that you can't argue _with_ description, by which I simply meant that it presents no overt rhetorical position that can be countered.

Imagination/mimesis is a false binary.