CFP: [Poetry] Glossator 3: Commentaries on the poems of J.H. Prynne

full name / name of organization: 
Ryan Dobran
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Glossator 3: Commentaries on the Poems of J.H. Prynne
Call for Proposals

In darkness by day we must press on,
giddy at the tilt of a negative crystal.
                                J.H. Prynne

The poetry of J.H. Prynne has been the subject of numerous essays and
reviews, several dissertations and monographs, but it has rarely been read
with the type of explicit attention made possible by the commentary, a form
notably undertaken by Prynne himself. This is due in part to the
resistance one encounters in close reading these poems, in following the
etymological and syntactical pressures rendered by their logical extensions
into a formidable deep structure, and in attempting precise analysis of the
ambiguity stimulated by their unfamiliar terrain. Prynne’s poetry seems
fundamentally resistant to synthetic, thesis-driven interpretation. It
opens up a contested space of saturated linguistic experiences that elude
translation into conventional critical idioms. Commentary, with its
capacity for depth, reference, and conceptual inclusiveness, thus suits
Prynne’s poems particularly well. Imaginative, immanent, and rigorous
reading of these poems requires a form whose vantage and environment is one
of elliptical convergence with the text, which is an essential strength of
marginal, interlinear, and annotative commentary. For this themed issue,
the editors seek commentaries on single poems and books by J.H. Prynne.
Articles investigating relationships between Prynne’s work and commentary
will also be considered. Commentators may refer to the “Selected
Bibliography” on the Glossator website ( for a
sense of the range of possible approaches. Formal and disciplinary
innovation within the commentary genre are welcome. Commentaries may be
philosophical, critical, historical, philological, etc. or some combination
thereof. More generally “commentary” should be understood in light of the
following guidelines:
1. A commentary focuses on a single object (text, image, event, etc.) or
2. A commentary does not displace but rather shapes itself to and preserves
the integrity, structure, and presence of its object.
3. The relationship of a commentary to its object may be described as both
parallel and perpendicular. Commentary is parallel to its object in that it
moves with or runs alongside it, following the flow of reading it.
Commentary is perpendicular to its object in that it pauses or breaks from
reading it in order to comment on it. The combination of these dimensions
gives commentary a structure of continuing discontinuity, which allows it
to be consulted or read intermittently rather than start to finish.
4. Commentary tends to maintain a certain quantitative proportion of itself
vis-à-vis its object. This tendency corresponds to the practice of "filling
up the margins" of a text.
5. Commentary, as a form of discourse, tends to favor and allow for the
multiplication of meanings, ideas, and references. Commentary need not, and
often does not, have an explicit thesis or argument. This tendency gives
commentary a ludic or auto-teleological potential.

300-word proposals for commentaries are due December 15, 2008. Proposals
should be sent by email as Word attachment to

Publication date: 1 March 2010
Special Co-Editor: Ryan Dobran (

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Received on Thu Oct 16 2008 - 10:27:40 EDT