The Energy in Poetry

4 February 2008 at 9:04 pm Leave a comment

I recently read the YA “verse novel” Your Own, Silvia by Stephanie Hemphill, an excellent introduction to the life of Sylvia Plath, which got me into her poetry as well as the poetry of Ted Hughes, her husband.  I checked out the Modern Critical Views (edited by Harold Bloom) on Sylvia Plath and found an essay in there titled “Aspects of Energy in the Poetry of Dylan Thomas and Sylvia Plath” by D.F. McKay.  McKay introduces a conception of literary criticism which can be aligned with my concept of energonomics:  his goal is to discover/uncover the energy at the heart of the poem as a speech-act of meaning.  He writes in the introduction that

most modern experimental poets have been preoccupied with the charge of language, the energy with which meaning is conveyed.  In extreme instances, to extend the generalization, energy consumes meaning the way fire feeds on matter… (17).

Some poetry, according to McKay, “concentrates upon energy–its generation, control and unleashing,” and he suggests that we “keep another metaphor uppermost in mind:  meaning as a conductor of energy, serving to deliver it as a wire conducts electricity” (18).

 In my conception of energonomics, as in Deleuze and Guattari’s philosophy, this process is not a metaphor but a literal, ontological fact.

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Entry filed under: Deleuze, energonomics, poetry.

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