Deconstruction and Poetry

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OLR 33.2: Deconstruction and Poetry

Poetry: that can mean a turning of breath.
(Paul Celan, 'Meridian')

If we understand, if we reach an edge of meaning one way or another, it's poetically.
(Jean-Luc Nancy, Résistance de la poésie)

What is most true is poetic because it is not stopped-stoppable.
(Hélène Cixous, Rootprints)

This issue of Oxford Literary Review wants to stake a claim for poetry as indispensable to deconstruction. It invites submissions (usually of 6000 words maximum) that investigate or seek to invent a way of talking about such topics as: experience; the poematic; poetic thinking; poetic freedom; poetry, language and politics; poetry and animals; technology; poetry and sexual difference; psychopoetics; poetico-literary performativity; inspiration; poetry beyond genre; breath or blood in deconstruction; poetic encounters within or between or affecting national languages; capital and capitalism; the earth; the environment; poetry or the poetic or poematic (not necessarily just as a theme) in Derrida's writing, or in that of Hélène Cixous, or Lyotard or other thinkers associated with deconstruction. The deadline for submissions will be May 1st 2011. Contact Sarah Wood at

… thing beyond languages …
(Jacques Derrida, '"Che cos'è la poesia?"')

If we could at least discover in ourselves or in people like ourselves an activity which was in some way akin to creative writing! An examination of it would then give us a hope of obtaining the beginnings of an explanation of the creative work of writers. And, indeed, there is some prospect of this being possible. After all, creative writers themselves like to lessen the distance between their kind and the common run of humanity; they so often assure us that every man is a poet at heart and that the last poet will not perish till the last man does.
(Freud, 'Creative Writers and Day-Dreaming')

… the enigma of the great poetics, not of a single individual but of an entire and extended family, rightly or wrongly called by the collective name "manic-depressive psychosis." It has been a long while since the two of us joined forces to establish its semantics and formulate its prosody.
(Nicolas Abraham and Maria Torok: '"The Lost Object – Me": Notes on Endocryptic Identification')

You will call poem a silent incantation, the aphonic wound that, of you, from you, I want to learn by heart.
(Derrida, '"Che cos'è la poesia?"')

For after means "poematic," after will come the time of blood. Because -ema in Greek means blood, and because po-ema should mean
blood after.
(Antonin Artaud, Letter to Henri Parisot (Letter known as "Coleridge the Traitor"))

… paradoxically, inscription alone – though it is far from always doing so – has the power of poetry, in other words has the power to arouse speech from its slumber as sign.
(Derrida, 'Force and Signification')

Tell X that speech is not dirty silence
Clarified. It is silence made still dirtier.
(Wallace Stevens, 'The Creations of Sound')

There are ways of writing French that are ways of writing "good" or proper French in setting up its borders and defending at all costs French nationalism and nationality. There are, on the contrary, ways of degrammaticalizing or of agrammaticalizing French, of working in syntax for it to be an open, receptive, stretchable, tolerant, intelligent language, capable of hearing the voices of the other in its own body. And this is a great revolutionary tradition of French poetry - in this sense I feel myself to be in the lineage of someone like Rimbaud - a certain breach of the limit, a certain unfurling of language, above all, a certain work on the signifier and, of course a necessary political attitude. One could well imagine that power could be taken over by "good French" in Academia and the media, and in that situation there would no longer be freedom of thought, quite simply.
(Cixous, 'Guardian of Language')

We are only beginning to understand how [an] oscillation in the status of the image is linked to the crisis that leaves the poetry of today under a steady threat of extinction, although, on the other hand, it remains the depository of hopes that no other activity of the mind seems able to offer.
(Paul de Man, 'The Intentional Structure of the Romantic Image')

… this experience of writing is "subject" to an imperative: to give space for singular events, to invent something new in the form of acts of writing which no longer consist in a theoretical knowledge, in new constative statements, to give oneself to a poetico-literary performativity at least analogous to that of promises, orders, or acts of constitution or legislation which do not only change language or which, in changing language, change more than language.
(Derrida, 'This Strange Institution Called Literature')

And the poem, if there is any, and thought, if there is any …
(Jacques Derrida, The Beast and the Sovereign)