You Asked For A Poem By Larry Levis

651 words - 3 pages

“A poem is true if it hangs together. Information points to something else. A poem points to nothing but itself” this quote by E.M. Forster alludes to the concept of metafiction in poetry as a whole. According to the Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms, “Metafiction is a kind of fiction that self-consciously addresses the devices of fiction…[M]etafiction does not let the readers forget they are reading a work of fiction.” Some common metafictive strategies include a story about someone writing a story, a piece of fiction that references specific conventions of a story, or characters that are aware they are in a story or work of fiction. The poems, “Functional Poem by Mark Halliday and “The Poem You Asked For” by Larry Levis, embody various conceptions metafiction.
The metafictional devices in Larry Levis’ “The Poem You Asked For” are found in overt and subtle ways throughout the poem. The first metafictional device is the poem is about a character writing a poem. The narrator references the odious poem in every single stanza. Despite the narrator’s best efforts, the poem refuses to blossom until the end of the story when the poem overcomes the author and abandons him. The poem with in the poem is an overt metafictional device. It could also be argued that the poem being written also acts as a character in the plot line. This could be seen as a second metafictional strategy in Levis’ poem. Lines such as “it drank up all the water, / beat me and took my money, / tore the faded clothes / off my back, / said Shit, / and walked slowly away, / slicking its hair down. / Said it was going / over to your place” demonstrates the personification of the poem itself (Levis l. 24-32). The use of the poem as a character dramatization is an outstanding feature of this poem.
Similarly to Levis’ poem, Mark Halliday’s “Functional Poem” embodies several metafictional...

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