PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
Mark FordLetters And So It Goes
Letters from Young Mr Grace
(aka John Ashbery)

(PN Review 239)
Henry Kingon Toby Martinez de las Rivas
(PN Review 244)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Jamie OsbornIn conversation with Sasha Dugdale
(PN Review 240)
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
PN Review Blog
Monthly Carcanet Books
Next Issue Vahni Capildeo The Boisterous Weeping of Margery Kempe Paul Muldoon The Fly Sinead Morrissey Put Off That Mask Jane Yeh Three Poems Sarah Rothenberg Poetry and Music: Exile and Return

This article is taken from PN Review 7, Volume 5 Number 3, April - June 1979.

Matter for Thought:The New Poetries David Trotter

THIS ESSAY offers a means of approach to the hidden side of contemporary English poetry, to those modes of writing which are ignored by or keep their distance from the mainstream periodicals and publishing houses. It assumes that we need to be able to distinguish between various literary modes at the level of practice: in terms of their use of those linguistic resources which allow us to identify as a unity and so to interpret extended passages of writing. (1)

We recognize the unity of a spoken or written statement partly by the grammatical structure of clause and sentence, but more importantly by its semantic integrity; by cohesive relations established between an element in the text and some other element which is crucial to the interpretation of it. This is particularly true of passages containing more than one sentence, because here-the sentence being the highest unit of grammatical structure-semantic ties are the only source of unity. To take a trivial example from normal discourse: 'You see the paper over there? Pass it to me, please.' The texture of this statement (its property of 'being a text') is guaranteed by two types of cohesive relation: between elements in the text; between text and context. `It' in the second sentence refers back to 'the paper over there' in the first, and cohesion is thus effected by the presence of a referring item (it) and the item referred to. The former derives its meaning from the latter, and the presupposition ...

Searching, please wait... animated waiting image