Corporeal and Desiring Spaces
This chapter examines the experimental poetry of Denise Riley, with emphasis on how the self is to be worded and where those words come from, and what happens when the self words itself as lyric. It also asks whether the feminine-as-expression itself is an abrasive zone between instinctive accommodation to, and resistance of, expectant contexts. It considers expectant contexts that seem designed to invite or provoke failure in Riley’s poems, as well as her engagement with lyric. It discusses two bodies of theory that shed light on the relation between the expectant context, ostensible content and seeping affect of language: the work of Christopher Bollas on hysteria and the work of Julia Kristeva. It also offers readings of two of Riley’s poems: ‘The Castalian Spring’ and ‘Laibach Lyrik: Slovenia 1991’. Finally, the chapter analyses two distinct ways in which Riley’s poetry dramatises the confluence of yearning and rupture: imagery of bodily harm and the use of colour.
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