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Cut With the Kitchen Knife


We conventionally use the period to punctuate a finished thought. But Rosmarie Waldrop, one of the most innovative poets in English, deploys the period as a rest, often musical, in which potential meanings multiply. The periods in her prose poems function like the line breaks in verse. This makes her work a powerful mixture of directness and disjunction: she conveys information at one moment only to shatter the method of conveyance at the next. A period that seems at first to indicate closure turns out to have opened a silence within a single thought. Or established an unbridgeable gulf between disparate thoughts. In Waldrop’s hands, a period is not the sign of authority but a tiny black hole within its logic.

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