ROUND TWO, NORTH: MAURA STANTON, THE VEILED LADY V. MICHAEL PALMER, WHO DOES NOT SPEAK ENGLISH

poe

 The 20th century, for all its ‘modernism,’ was 19th century-besotted, and we have yet to confront all our 19th century demons.

Both poems competing today confront absence.

How many types of absence are there?  There is metaphysical nothing, mathematical zero, subatomic nothing, and linguistic nothing.  Then there is just nothing.  So at least five.

Palmer:

“I do not know English. Therefore I have no way of communicating that I prefer this painting of nothing to that one of something.”

Palmer’s voice throughout his poem “I  Do Not” is detached, academic, but “does not know English.” The Language experiment in a nutshell.

Stanton’s poem is also about nothing: the ghosts at 19th century seances.

Palmer:

“Nor can I utter the words science, seance,  silence, language, and languish.”

Stanton has Robert Browning reject the seance trick, and then her poem does a remarkable thing:

“But it was done with thick plate glass and lights,
A conjurer’s trick, just like the accordian
Played by a ghost in front of Robert Browning
Who shuddered when a spirit hand reached out
And put a wreath of flowers on Elizabeth
Though afterwards he called it sham, imposture.
But that’s what I am, that’s what we all are
To one another, a trick of light and glass
Projected before an audience of dupes.”

Stanton embraces the illusion of the 19th century and her poem dramatically realizes what Palmer only speaks of.

Stanton Moves Into the Sweet Sixteen With A 59-57 victory.

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