By Pauline Butling
Poet Phyllis Webb initiated new methods of seeing into the cultural “dark” of Western concept. through blurring the axis among “light” and “dark,” she redefined in optimistic phrases women’s subjectivity and sexuality, that are often assigned “dark” damaging values.
Seeing within the Dark comprises perceptive discussions on a few Webb’s collections, particularly Naked Poems, Wilson’s Bowl, Water and Light and Hanging Fire. Butling exhibits how Webb makes use of thoughts of subversion, reversal and re-vision of triumphing traditions and tropes to facilitate “seeing within the dark.” She additionally offers a desirable research of Webb feedback — tracing it over the last thirty years and revealing a shift in severe paradigms. A bankruptcy on biography comprises exciting archival fabric.
Pauline Butling bargains vital new methods of analyzing one among Canada’s best poets. Seeing within the Dark is key introductory fabric for the overall reader and gives provocative penetrating research for literary students.
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Additional info for Seeing in the Dark: The Poetry of Phyllis Webb
Three poems later, "I" wryly observes that no one has noticed the change: I have given up complaining but nobody notices (FT, 92) And in the last poem, we find the limp body "falling / . . into the arms of the oppressor," a reminder that patriarchal systems have not disappeared. The narrative trajectory of the book—which traces a liminal woman's consciousness and voice(s)—remains "Non Linear" (that is to say, there is no resolution). Instead, social, historical, and linguistic vectors continually intersect the I/eye, producing a polyvalent and variously constellated subject.
This light (tuth) is changed by the lesbian coding, here signified by the purple colour of the curtains: Webb's Poetics of Resistance 27 "The sun comes through / plum curtains" (FT, 74). The speaker also distances herself from white as a symbol of female purity and innocence—represented in the poem in the white rose petals, the white painting, her white skin, and the whiteness of the moonlight. She declares: "My white skin / is not the moonlight" (FT, 86). ) a variegated collection of objects and colours appears: "green / moss weed / kelp shells pebbles / lost orange rind / orange crab" (FT, 87).
The poems are also formally quite different, with longer lines and larger, more varied structures. 18 While Webb eventually realized that anarchist theory in itself functioned as an authority structure (it was "totally unauthoritarian," she comments, "except I had my authority in Kropotkin, as a godlike or Christlike figure" [Sujir interview, 34]), it provided a useful impetus for her initial resistance to established systems. But when she read Adrienne Rich's Of Woman Bom in the 1970s, she turned to feminist analyses of societal structures as a means to overcome her dependency on authority figures of various kinds.