Friday, February 23, 2007

Punctuation in The Angel of History

Angel mostly lacks punctuation at the end of lines. To some extent it seems purposefully disorienting. It mirrors the experiences and tragedies discussed, while mimicking the style of what she labels the carnival of resistance. The lack of punctuation allows us to insert commas and periods where we want/need them, giving the poem a meaning personal to each reader. Basically, we are condemned to freedom. I'm starting to see how the lack of punctuation opens this poem up. Without the constraint of commas and periods, it blooms, but only to an energetic and interested reader.

The reader is key. She turns the poem loose on us and says, make your own meaning. That is something I can appreciate: a poet who knows her role. To borrow a term from CvT, this poem is a mirror. The reader takes something from it the first time. The second time, after the reader has collected new experiences and knowledge, the meaning is not the same. No reading will ever be the same. She wrote those words. But since she published them, shared them with us, those words are just as much ours as they are hers.

This book is a concrete mirror.

And a risk.

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