The Hermit Poet

March 21, 2005

Fault, Fragmentation, and Formations

Filed under: General — Neil Aitken @ 12:53 pm

I’ve spent the last few weeks working on a rather involved paper exploring the composition and structure of Brenda Hillman’s Cascadia — a book of poetry that draws on California geology, post-feminist theory, and the ideas of alchemy. Any of these might have been sufficient to deal with, but what I wished to explore was the intersection of these things — the synnergy of their collisions and separations. In writing the paper I elected to follow Hillman’s use of geology as the main path while still looking at the other aspects (post-feminism and alchemy) as additional streams which feed the flow of the text.

I also realized that many of the ideas that were coming up had application to writing in general and so I thought it might be nice to include some excerpts of the paper for public consideration. I’ll offer these in short installments over the next few days.

As I wrote the paper, I also incorporated my own thoughts, misgivings, and doubts as a critic in right-aligned blocks — these are represented in the blog entries as block-quoted sections. It seemed to me that any linear approach to looking at Cascadia would ultimately undermine the post-feminist ideas of intertextuality and multiplicity — in order to better reflect the multiple possible readings of the text, I felt that as a critic I would also have to acknowledge my own guesswork and assumptions, proposing other reads as they occurred.

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