2/28/15

This poem / Gets up / And does / Something


Tom Beckett's poem "This poem" is all about the question of who speaks in this poem. It is one of the better poems I know dealing with this subject. Who is the speaker? Beckett? Someone else? The poem itself? It opens as follows:
This poem
Proffers
Its ass.
Well, now you know there's not gonna be an easy answer. Which, thank goodness, didn't put off all people, Thomas Fink for instance -- "Beckett's poem is no primer of poststructuralist theory" -- and Nicholas Manning -- "poems too are unsure of themselves" -- and Steve Tills -- "one needs yards and yards of parentheses to contain and to extrapolate what meaning has become facilitated."

"This Poem" is an intriguing piece of work, in which Beckett pokes fun at one or two theoretical discourses. The poem creates a narrative situation in which the existence of an author is denied and in which it looks like if the text is operating on its own:
This poem
Wants to
Get to
Know you.

This poem
Is expedient.
But in the end, when confirmation of Barthes's "la mort de l'auteur" is almost inevitable, Beckett gets back in by the backdoor as the one and only author. The last stanza reads:
This poem
Pretends not
To know me.
Read the full poem at Otholiths. For sale here.

No comments: