I've wanted to read Where the People Are: Language and Community in the poetry of W.S.Graham by Matthew Francis for a while. It arrived this morning and I've managed to read the first chapter (while nursing a sick baby). Language and community being very much 'my thing', I approach this with enthusiasm. However I am aware that I have quite worked through (or worked up) ideas about what poetry is and what it does. I find myself hoping that I don't bring to many preconceptions to the reading of this. Francis sees Graham's poetry as occupying a stance similar to Derrida's; there is an awareness that the act of writing creates a absence and distance in time and space. The act of writing about writing in a poem, Francis argues, is itself an act of deconstruction. (I am guessing that the trace of Graham's community of origin in his writing will be important in Francis' analysis.)
Francis illustrates the pain of separation in the poems, but resists the Lacanian spin that I dive into immediately; that Graham's poetry illustrates the experience of loss in language and an attempt to recover the lost object through the act of writing. Towards the end of the chapter Francis writes of Graham's writing as seeking control and love (isn't it true for everyone?). This feeds my fascination for Winnicott's theories about art forms as transitional objects; the poet experimenting with the 'not me' - forming relationships beyond the self- through poetry. Oh dear. Preconceptions alive and well.