Light as air: a poetics of wonder in the work of Ron Padgett

Over, Jeremy (2020). Light as air: a poetics of wonder in the work of Ron Padgett. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This work consists of a portfolio of poetry, The Pencil Method, preceded by a thesis, ‘Light As Air: A Poetics of Wonder in the Work of Ron Padgett’. Chapter 1 sets out the historical context for an American poetics of wonder and situates Padgett within that, considering the central importance of ‘not knowing’ and how this resonates with Zen concepts of intimacy and awakening. The comparative use, by Padgett and Joe Brainard, of the image of headlessness is also examined and how this facilitates play with notions of the self / not-self. Chapter 2 considers Padgett’s active and tactical approach towards making openings in the known by comparing his experiments with creative mistranslation to Kenneth Koch’s creative misunderstandings of the French language. Links are explored between the nonsense tradition, Zen and the theme of wonder. Chapter 3 considers Padgett’s distinctive playful acts of inattention brought about by his practice of ‘creative reading’ and how these extend to swerving sidesteps away from the known. The critical thesis ends with reflections on some of the poems from The Pencil Method and how these read across to some of Padgett’s methods and the Buddhist inflected poetics of wonder outlined in the first three chapters.

Some of the poems included in this thesis were published in 'Fur Coats in Tahiti' (Carcanet 2019):

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of English, Drama and Creative Studies, Department of Film and Creative Writing
Funders: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BQ Buddhism
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0080 Criticism
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
P Language and Literature > PS American literature


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