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Entries on a Post-Language Poetics in Harryette Mullen's Dictionary

Entries on a Post-Language Poetics in Harryette Mullen's Dictionary J E S S I C A L E W I S L U C K Choice voice noise. Harryette Mullen, Muse & Drudge quick perusal of the table of contents in Harryette Mullen's Sleeping with the Dictionary (2002) reveals that Mullen has left the letters I, U, and Y out of her abecedary. This erasure becomes the punning subject of a poem in the book titled "Why You and I," which begins, "Who knows why you and I fell off the roster?" and ends, "who can stand to reason why you and I let / our union dissolve to strike the orderly alphabet?" (78). Though Mullen's barrage of punning questions in the poem is certainly playful, her choice of deleted letters is significant. These poems are not the product of a traditional lyric "I" shaping the language to evoke the epiphanies of an essential self. Instead, Mullen conspicuously puts that "I" under erasure. Confirming this goal, "All She Wrote," the first poem of the book, consists of a list of excuses for why she is not writing: "Forgive me, I'm no good at this. . . . By the way, my computer was stolen. Now I'm unable http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Contemporary Literature University of Wisconsin Press

Entries on a Post-Language Poetics in Harryette Mullen's Dictionary

Contemporary Literature , Volume 49 (3) – Jan 10, 2008

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University of Wisconsin Press
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Copyright © University of Wisconsin Press
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1548-9949
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Abstract

J E S S I C A L E W I S L U C K Choice voice noise. Harryette Mullen, Muse & Drudge quick perusal of the table of contents in Harryette Mullen's Sleeping with the Dictionary (2002) reveals that Mullen has left the letters I, U, and Y out of her abecedary. This erasure becomes the punning subject of a poem in the book titled "Why You and I," which begins, "Who knows why you and I fell off the roster?" and ends, "who can stand to reason why you and I let / our union dissolve to strike the orderly alphabet?" (78). Though Mullen's barrage of punning questions in the poem is certainly playful, her choice of deleted letters is significant. These poems are not the product of a traditional lyric "I" shaping the language to evoke the epiphanies of an essential self. Instead, Mullen conspicuously puts that "I" under erasure. Confirming this goal, "All She Wrote," the first poem of the book, consists of a list of excuses for why she is not writing: "Forgive me, I'm no good at this. . . . By the way, my computer was stolen. Now I'm unable

Journal

Contemporary LiteratureUniversity of Wisconsin Press

Published: Jan 10, 2008

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