Poetic Not Neutral Space, with a Text by Anakreon

Trying too hard for clarity, we speak casually of ‘space.’ I can say ‘the space of the poem’ and proceed. We think: well, I mean ‘negative space.’ Or ‘neural space. But the space of a poem is not ‘neutral’: it is full of promise. Think how quickly we play along with the potentialities of the space outlined by a fragment of Anakreon (Sixth Century B.C.). I open Davenport’s 7 GREEKS (New Directions) to Anakreon fragment 120:

‘Eros melting in the mouth.’

Full of possible meanings, some more likely than others. No point in assuming a zero-grade space. This isn’t geometry.

Author: Tom D'Evelyn

Tom D'Evelyn is a private editor and writing tutor in Cranston RI and, thanks to the web, across the US and in the UK. He can be reached at tom.develyn@comcast.net. D'Evelyn has a PhD in Comparative Literature from UC Berkeley. Before retiring he held positions at The Christian Science Monitor, Harvard University Press, Boston University and Brown University. He ran a literary agency for ten years, publishing books by Leonard Nathan and Arthur Quinn, among others. Before moving to Portland OR he was managing editor at Single Island Press, Portsmouth NH. He blogs at http://tdevelyn.com and other sites.

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