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Close ListeningPoetry and the Performed Word$
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Charles Bernstein

Print publication date: 1998

Print ISBN-13: 9780195109924

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195109924.001.0001

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Toward a Poetics of Polyphony and Translatability

Toward a Poetics of Polyphony and Translatability

(p.178) 8 Toward a Poetics of Polyphony and Translatability
Close Listening

Dennis Tedlock

Oxford University Press

If a poem is supposed to consist of exactly the right words and no others, then there are multiple worlds in which poems are never quite finished. In some of these worlds poets use writing that requires a text to be fixed for all times and places. Each of the poetic moves in this first of all human sentences can be found elsewhere in Quiche and other Mayan poetry. There are times when parallel words or phrases converge on saying nearly the same thing, which also sheds light on how contemporary speakers of Quiche, constructing the relationship between language and experience. Whether parallel words or phrases refer to the same object, or else point to objects, they constantly work against the notion that an isomorphism between words and their objects could actually be realized.

Keywords:   poetics of polyphony, translatability, Quiche, Mayan poetry, parallel words

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