“The Punctum & The Phosphorus”: Seminar at Charleston Library Society
“The Punctum & The Phosphorus”
A seminar for the Poetry Society of South Carolina
Mar 12, 2022
We will discuss a selection of poems and other literary works (from the dead and the living), on the lookout for the ‘punctum’ and the ‘phosphorus’ —— the words, phrases, musical moves and formal choices that make the work indelible.
The lenses and touchstones of our discussion will be the punctum vs. studium concept, formulated by Roland Barthes in Camera Lucida, and the William Carlos Williams quote from In the American Grain:
“It has been my wish to draw from every source one thing,
the strange phosphorus of the life. . .”
We will consider examples from writers like Gwendolyn Brooks, Frank Stanford, Jamaica Kincaid, Tillie Olson, Grace Paley, Les Murray, James Agee, Tyehimba Jess, Diane Seuss, Dana Levin. . .among others.