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Makarasana       of

terremotosLhasa             : : Lakshmi


(Loss Pequeno Glazier, “Io Sono At Swoons”)

Interested in breaking down with traditional syntax and in abandoning punctuation and linear arrangement of words, in “A Throw of the Dice” Mallarme invites the reader to follow the poetic text in a nonconventional format, which, at first sight, reveals itself as being devised under the sign of chance or random because words are left free on the page, verbs and adverbs, nouns and articles are no longer bound to each other, capital letters follow no orthographic rules, punctuation marks are almost absent, and sentences can be barely read and identified. The feeling of incidental organization is caused by the very first visual impact of each page that Mallarme had skillfully manipulated in an attempt to escape “the four extremities of the page by jumping the boundary of the spine to tie two conventional pages into one,” as Dorothy M. Betz beautifully describes the poet’s intention and writing strategy. In Betz’s opinion, “the generally-falling movement of the text across each page depicts the fall of the dice; the ship on page three, the hat on page six, and the constellation on page eleven depict objects named at those points” whereas the arbitrary position of the words translates the poet’s playfulness and intent to mock the limits of the book and to express his frustration in writing.  

An interesting poetic exercise on the idea of chance and random is Loss Pequeno Glazier’s poem-program entitled “Io Sono At Swoons.” The weirdness of its opening lines stems not only from the intricate and random mixture of bits of lexical materials with etymological roots in different languages from Mexican, Nahuatl, Quechua, English, French, German, Italian, Hindi, Sanskrit, Arabic to Tibetan languages but also from their particular arrangement in the stanza, which, it its turn, signals a complementary aesthetic complexity. Linguistically, what adds to the poem’s feeling of randomness is the title itself made of the Italian words “Io Sono” for “I am” and “At Swoons,” a phrase which, in the poet’s own words, encloses multiple connotations ranging from fainting, ecstatic joy or rupture, to the archaic “swounds,” a shortened form of the phrase “God’s wounds.” Often, the word selection for the title gives a clue about the content of a literary work, and hence, in the case of this poem, the Italian—English word combination should send to a semantic content related to its linguistic antecedents. And yet, there is not such an accurate correspondence between its title and its content because despite the poem’s collection of lexical elements from many other languages its subject matter does not address any of them in particular that is neither the words nor their arrangement in sentences highlights any specific information about the cultural context from which the linguistic components derive. Because “Io Sono At Swoons” “presents collages of lexical fragments from various languages, including medical terminology related to the brain, which come together in compound formations with multilingual inflection” (Glazier), it would be difficult even for a dilligent observer/reader to identify the cryptographic element necessary in order to turn these linguistic bits into a readable text. Additionally, its message tends to be unpredictable because, as Glazier remarks, in this poem, “languages overwrite other languages” and therefore, “language centers are disturbed.”

As if these idiosyncrasies were not enough, by spinning language and exploring the possibilities of the lexical ecstasy, the poem refreshes every forty seconds with a new iteration of text on the screen so that it would be hard both for reader and writer to ever see the poem twice. Indeed, in “Io Sono At Swoons” there is no describable deterministic pattern as chance equals randomness. In this respect, the poet’s confession on the composition process gains signifcance, “When I first make a piece that generates poems regardless of my presence, I often panic at the thought of all the poems that are getting ‘lost.’ I will hit the Print Screen key to try to archive versions of the text. But the program goes on and on, producing a new poem every forty seconds, and eventually, I come to terms with such loss. I eventually realize that the iterations aren’t the point. I become less attached. [. . .] I understand that, even as the writer, I don’t have to see every text that my code produces. Later, I become more fascinated with the poem’s endless ability to produce ‘my’ poem, and I just sit back and let it run.”