POEM AS WRITTEN WORD AT BOUNDARY CONDITION

24 02 2009

By MICHAEL JOYCE

The poem exists under extreme conditions in our time, taking its place in a medial and societal discourse where language has been enervated, if not exhausted, by neo-fascism, terrorism, fundamentalism, and global commerce. At the same time poetry itself, or formulaic language appropriating its name, has perhaps never been more ubiquitous, with virtual (networked) texts as well as affordable just in time, insty-printing and distribution, as well as monopolistic transnational publishing saturating every market segment.

Under such conditions it seems useful to consider the poem independent of the poet or the institutional and cultural construct of poetry. That is, to consider the poem as something of a stochastic process, fully non-deterministic and conjectural and, if not explicitly random, appearing so when encountered in the midst of overly-determined, exhausted, even hostile, regimes and discourses of the sorts mentioned above. The poem in isolation is always adaptive, mutative, generative, self-organizing. As such it shows itself to be well-posed in the mathematical sense, i.e., data-dependent and of a reasonable topology, despite what on first glance may seem its porosity.

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