By Pauline Butling
Poet Phyllis Webb initiated new methods of seeing into the cultural “dark” of Western inspiration. via blurring the axis among “light” and “dark,” she redefined in optimistic phrases women’s subjectivity and sexuality, that are regularly assigned “dark” unfavourable values.
Seeing within the Dark comprises perceptive discussions on a couple of Webb’s collections, in particular Naked Poems, Wilson’s Bowl, Water and Light and Hanging Fire. Butling exhibits how Webb makes use of techniques of subversion, reversal and re-vision of triumphing traditions and tropes to facilitate “seeing within the dark.” She additionally presents a desirable research of Webb feedback — tracing it over the last thirty years and revealing a shift in serious paradigms. A bankruptcy on biography comprises interesting archival fabric.
Pauline Butling deals very important new methods of analyzing considered one of Canada’s most interesting poets. Seeing within the Dark is vital introductory fabric for the overall reader and offers provocative penetrating research for literary students.
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Additional resources for Seeing in the Dark: The Poetry of Phyllis Webb
21 For further discussion of intertextuality in Wilson's Bowl, see chapter 5. 2 Reading Water and Light W ater and Light, Webb's collection of Ghazals and Anti Ghazals published in 1984, dazzles the reader with poems that shimmer and shine like the water and light of the title, but it is also a difficult book to read because the reader finds herself, as in Webb's previous books, drawn into clusters of meaning particles rather than offered narrative paths or epiphanic lyric moments. 1 Water and Light thus invites a participatory reader who is willing to construct, dissolve, and reconstruct meanings as she reads; who recognizes that reading involves a "convergence of text and reader" (Iser, 1988, 212) rather than a direct transfer of information; and who recognizes her complicity in defining meaning and value.
The hooking together of "passive" and "resistance" with such a neat paradoxical click made a supremely useful political slogan that's had a long life. It tells me again that some kinds of passive behaviour are productive of real change, social and otherwise. (295-96) Like Gandhi's passive resistance, which successfully undermined and transformed the colonial system in India, Webb's passive/active listening provides an effective means of resisting and intertransforming established (and colonizing) knowledge systems.
Yet just "reading" the poems seems boring boring. March 25. Coming back to this chapter after a break I think I see the problem. As a reader/listener, I like being "inside" the poem, experiencing, drifting here and there. But as a feminist critic, teacher, writer, I want to look at political questions, see the poem in social and theoretical contexts. That puts me "outside" the poem (sort of) ... a mind/body split? . No, it's more that "doubling of the reader's subjectivity" that Schweickart speaks of.