Lyric↔L/language: essaying the poetics of contemporary women’s poetry.
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Using the deliberately provocative strategies of “essaying” and “error”, which have become central to the poetry and poetics of women experimental writers such as Kathleen Fraser, Lyn Hejinian and Rachel Blau DuPlessis, this essay charts the writer’s slow understanding that lyric voice and linguistic-formal experimentalism in writing by women poets form a problematic, yet productive, interrelation. Lyric, suggests Kinnahan, is at once an apparently unmarked, naturalized poetic mode and, for women poets, a curiously over-marked, gendered category. At the same time, female experimental poets have not found a comfortable space within the avant-garde poetics loosely derived from L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E. The essay moves to explore the challenges of the lyric-language conjunction in relation to the writer’s second collection, open season (2006), and suggests, through a method of trial and error, that a re-turn to lyric through the lens of international scholarship on contemporary experimental poetry by women writers can invigorate our take on the persistence of lyrical voice in poetry by South African women writers.