After my previous post on J.H. Prynne and John Bloomberg-Rissman's response to it, I went off and re-read Prynne's 'For the Monogram' (1997) and 'Pearls that Were' (1999). While this poetry is daunting, in fact baffling to most readers, if I analyse 'For the Monogram', it does become apparent that two techniques are involved (or appear to be - I could be wrong): first, cut-up, in the sense that sentences or phrases are chopped to produce a disjunctive effect; second, unnattributed quotation or borrowing (or possibly fake quotation). An example of the second is found in stanza 3, which resembles a spec for a computer program, albeit a form of programming that would have been antiquated in 1997:
if (set to true) a product goto top list, an object
otherwise (if else) remaining the same...
There may be other such extracts from technical sources - without any notes or attributions, it's hard to say. Who knows for example what this might refer to:
Fissile drag under gang profile
Is it it invented, or is it genuine technical jargon? While the language in 'For the Monogram' has a certain liveliness at times due to unexpected juxtaposition, I defy anyone to hold their attention on writing like this for more than a few minutes - my brain at least, can't deal with that level of abstraction in language - and overall, the whole exercise is rather heavy. It doesn't have the raciness of Raworth or the humour of Ashbery.
'Pearls that Were': when I bought this pamphlet in 1999 I remember enjoying the opening stanzas: rhyming (or half-rhyming) quatrains that had a certain pleasing lyricism, which, while abstract, gained something from the accidents of musical placing. Again, my attention wavered (another way of saying 'I got bored'?), but I was prepared to accept it as abstract lyric. Then I discovered that one of the stanzas was a spoof translation of a poem by the contemporary Chinese poet Che Qianzi. That threw me. What else was I missing? Maybe the 'abstract lyricism' was something more. At that point I gave up.