PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
News and Notes
Digital Access to PN Review
Access the latest issues, plus back issues of PN Review with Exact Editions For PN Review subscribers: to access the PN Review digital archive via the Exact Editions app Exactly or the Exact Editions website, you will first need to know your PN Review ID number. read more
PN Review Prize winners announced
Carcanet Press and PN Review are delighted to announce the winners of the first ever PN Review Prize. read more
Most Read... Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Drew MilneTom Raworth’s Writing
‘present past improved’: Tom Raworth’s Writing

(PN Review 236)
Alejandro Fernandez-OsorioPomace (trans. James Womack)
(PN Review 236)
Kei MillerIn the Shadow of Derek Walcott
1930–2017

(PN Review 235)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Kate BinghamPuddle
(PN Review 236)
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
Gratis Ad 1
Gratis Ad 2
Next Issue CELEBRATING JOHN ASHBERY Contributors include Mark Ford, Marina Warner, Jeremy Over, Theophilus Kwek, Sam Riviere, Luke Kennard, Philip Terry,Agnes Lehoczky, Emily Critchley, Oli Hazard and others Miles Champion The Gold Standard Rebecca Watts The Cult of the Noble Amateur Marina Tsvetaeva ‘My desire has the features of a woman’: Two Letters translated by Christopher Whyte Iain Bamforth Black and White

This article is taken from PN Review 237, Volume 44 Number 1, September - October 2017.

An Essay on Prosody
Beginning with Endings
Chris McCully
WHAT FOLLOWS IS AN ESSAY about versification – prosody, to give the subject its older title. The first two sections of the essay touch on linguistic metrics; these sections are precursors to the three final sections of the piece, all of which treat in different ways of the notion of metrical constraints, particularly as those have been expressed in a version of linguistic metrics current since the later 1990s, namely Optimality Theory (OT). I’ve written about this here because OT-based forms of thinking about metrical (and non-metrical) organisation seem intuitively quite satisfying to me as a writer of verse. It is primarily as a writer, secondarily as a writer-and-reader, and not at all as a linguistic specialist or critic, that I have put these thoughts into their present form.

So as not to clutter up the piece with foot- or endnotes I summarise here some of those works from which the piece derives. The source for OT is often and with justice cited as Alan Prince and Paul Smolensky, Optimality Theory: Constraint Interaction in Generative Grammar, Technical Report number 2, Rutgers Centre for Cognitive Science (1993), also available in the Rutgers Optimality Archive, ROA 537-0802. In the same period Alan Prince was also doing important work with John McCarthy, e.g. the paper ‘Generalized alignment’ in Geert Booij and Jaap van Marle (eds.), Yearbook of Morphology 1993 (Dordrecht: Kluwer, pp. 79–153). OT reached the textbooks in Diana Archangeli and Terence Langendoen (eds.) Optimality Theory: An Overview (Oxford: Blackwell, 1997) and in a fuller form in René Kager’s Optimality ...


Searching, please wait... animated waiting image