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Additional info for Convention and Revolt in Poetry
What happens when we are constructed as adversary and ally, encumbrance and friend? In the next chapter, I will try to show how such doubling can occur within the writing of one student, Devlyn, who discovered a creative way to approach his rhetorical predicament. ” In the years since its ﬁrst publication, Elbow’s article has been cited, praised, disparaged by some, but generally acknowledged as an important counterstatement to a good deal of then-current thinking about audience. Elbow’s article proceeds from what he calls a “limited claim,” his view that “even though ignoring audience will usually lead to weak writing at ﬁrst .
These are composed of “that person who intimidates us” or those “people who make us feel dumb when we try to speak to them” (51) or even such 32 S AY I N G A N D S I L E N C E “readers with whom we have an awkward relationship” (52). Indeed, for Elbow, it goes without saying that inhibiting audiences are, by definition, impediments to a writer’s struggle to say something authentic and compelling to others. But they are something else too. Notice that, in Elbow’s descriptions, inhibiting audiences are almost always personal, immediate, overwhelmingly present.
Or, as the contemporary philosopher, Hilary Putnam, has pointed out: “We always speak the language of a time and place; but the rightness and wrongness of what we say is not just for a time and place” (247). If this were not the case, we would face the curious necessity of having to attach a subtextual rider to every utterance we make, a disclaimer of sorts that might be translated thus: “Of course, you must realize that the words I speak to you have no meaning beyond the here and now in which they are spoken.