Review of Edge of the Island, by Chen Li
Norbert Francis
December 2017

Experimental art forms in literature present a challenge to theory. For example, modern genres combine symbolic systems in ways that recast conventions and expectations. In the poems examined in this review the combining systems are linguistic and graphic. In the case of poets writing in Chinese, crossing boundaries and combining genres lead to us to reflect on the new forms in a way that appears to contradict assumptions about defining categories in poetics. An example of one such assumption is that the foundation of poetry is verbal, that its origin resides in the sound patterns of the human voice. We might be able to show that this assumption is correct: as in all cultures, for thousands of years poems were composed and learned without knowledge of writing, prior to their invention as a means for recording language. Then, how do we account for new developments in art that appear to be extraordinary?
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/004925
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: China Review International
keywords: formalism, recursion, poetics, russian futurists, chinese writing, semantics
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