Truffle Hound

There is — I’ve come to feel — a text within the text, made up of the words and phrases that lodge most firmly in our minds as we read and the hidden relationships we sense between them. Can it be brought into the light and given at least a minimal coherence? If so, what if anything might it tell us about the parent text?

I think this shadow text is based in part on semi-conscious, momentary misinterpretations which we are continually correcting automatically as we read. It’s of a piece with those false ideas and associations we all harbor based on misunderstandings that were subsequently corrected, sometimes very quickly, but still too late to prevent such shadow ideas from persisting, showing up in dreams and sometimes even influencing conscious thoughts. (This is, in part, how propaganda works.)

If I were able to read with perfect focus, perhaps a shadow text would not develop, but the imagination is an unruly beast, and fluent reading gives it latitude to stray to one side or another as I proceed, like a dog on a long leash inspecting things of interest while its owner plods straight ahead. It has, in other words, its own agenda. To recover the text within a text, do we not also need to be dog-like and follow our ears and noses more than our eyes? Certainly we need to be more active. Investigation may even require that we bark and listen for a response.

*

I’ve come to feel
at least a minimal

coherence might tell
about the momentary

shadow showing up
in dreams

If I read
the unruly beast

fluent like a dog
on a long leash

inspecting
its own agenda

recover follow
nose more

than eyes and listen
for response

 

 

In response to Via Negativa: Delusions of an erasure poet.

7 Comments


  1. Oh, that’s wonderful.

    Several years ago I attended a poetry reading by Mary Ruefle, who read some wonderful erasure poems she had created out of her own manuscripts from years before. She would take her own poems (after years had passed) and black out most of what was on the page, reading aloud the skeletal poem which remained. They were wonderful.

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    1. Yes – and I have used Mary Ruefle’s LITTLE WHITE SHADOW in graduate poetry courses a couple of times – another fascinating variation on this theme.

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  2. Beautiful. I love the idea of making erasure poems from one’s own writing – must admit, I never thought of that before. Whole new vistas open up. Thanks!

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