I learnt a new poetry word this week: anaphora.
Anaphora is the ‘repetition of a word or words at the beginning of successive phrases, clauses, or lines to create a sonic effect.’ More about anaphora can be found on the poetryfoundation.org website.
‘Untitled’ by Anna Moschovakis is a poem that uses anaphora throughout the poem. She repeats ‘I can’t’ and ‘I can’t remember’ from the beginning of the poem a number of times. Later in the poem ‘I’d like’, ‘I seem’ and ‘I don’t’ are repeated.
Moschovakis’ use of anaphora emphasises the uncertainy of the I in the poem – the uncertainty which is shown to the reader in the first line: ‘I can’t remember what it is I’m supposed to be doing’.
The poem also takes us through a journey, although an oblique one – at the end the I ‘would be abstract/ with an inscrutable ending’. In other words the I would be something specific but not something exact or completely readable.
Here is a link to the Poetry Society of America where Moschovakis talks about her poetry: Anna Moschovakis
Untitled by Anna Moschovakis
I can’t remember what it is I’m supposed to be doing.
I can’t think of anything but lists I’ve made, lists I’ve broken
the spirit of. It’s always a fine time for breaking
things, like plastic forks and poetic trends.
It’s a damn good morning to imitate the world.
But I can’t remember what imitation is
or the difference between it and flattery
or an adage and an aphorism.
I’d better go back to school
he said, performing a gesture to alterity.
I can’t remember if alterity
has negative connotations
or is just another way of kicking
myself out the door. I’d like to try being
a man for once. I’d like to wear chaps and have it
be obscene instead of pornography. I can never remember
what I think of pornography when it isn’t in my
face. I wish I could be inanimate,
banged-up and appreciated
for all my surface qualities
without ethics getting in the way. I seem to remember
being ethical. I seem to act along some kind of line
albeit a kinky one. I wonder when kinky became
pornographic and whether that aspect is
subtractable. I don’t remember my grammar
rules. I don’t think English is very good
for a certain kind of inventioning. I gather
some readers don’t like being
confronted with the language in every word.
I want to be a word. I would be abstract
with an inscrutable ending.