'Time Text Body Noise'

The way the line never ends

When I was thinking about a motif or query that could help focus my Commentaries here at Jacket2, I kept returning to a central question about time. The way that we experience and imagine time is directly shaped by the quality of our attention and the terms of our engagement. There are many areas of interest through which I could engage this experience of time (film, for example), but while commentating here, I shall limit myself to the way that language operates in poetic contexts.

I decided to title my series TIME TEXT BODY NOISE because these elements are all centrally linked in how I am coming to understand the production of time as a poetic experience. Embodied realities inform how time proceeds for us when we encounter a work, but there are also historical and discursive habits that engineer time for us as readers, watchers, and listeners of poetry...the short breaks on the page as synaptic observations mirroring the spoken phrase in Creeley’s work, for example, or the way Myung Mi Kim’s lines begin to “cohere” like fallout or debris from a slow-moving explosion in what constitutes a different sort of “dailiness” in her book Commons

One quick example of this that I'll use as a way of opening is from Truong Tran's 2004 collection, within the margin (Apogee). The title poem is composed almost entirely of one long line that becomes a horizon on the page. As a reader, I feel an interminabiilty in the line that suggests density. All events get thrown into this horizon together. The line reads and feels as if it will never end. This begs the question to me--what is complete? What has deeper "value" in this flattening, endless, running time?