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The Pequod
Dr Alistair Brown
Associate lecturer in English Literature; researching video games and literature

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Through exploring the psychopathology of Capgras syndrome, in which a patient mistakes a loved one for an imposter, The Echo Maker offers a sustained meditation on the ways in which we project our own problems onto other people. As a reflection on the mysteries of consciousness, the novel offers some interesting if not especially new insights into the fuzzy boundaries between scientific and literary interpretations of the mind. Read more

The Word Parrot

I am the polyglot, my son.
Obvious pun! Obvious pun!
Pied I pipe my eavesdropped tunes
picked up from this spine-filled room
of poet fathers, learned men
who grained the stone with chisel pen.

Pickpocket of words the things Iíve found
Go in one ear and outward bound
To moulding pages read before
Recycling from tradition raw.

Phoenix fire from phoenix dust
All I do is scrape the rust
And rearrange the marks of thought
Not forging iron, but iron re-wrought

Stuffed with seeds of speech and rhyme
syllables I cannot get out in time
muted and caged I scrawl on this page.

Dearest reader, cover me quick,
Shelve me now, these words are...

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About This Poem

Glutted with the great canonical works pressed into my mind by an English Literature degree, I sometimes wish I could escape from the inevitable influence of the old on my writing. I am hesitant in pointing towards that masculinist and imperialistic argument of T.S. Eliot in "Tradition in the Individual Talent," but I cannot help but feel there he was right in pointing towards something inevitable about the infection of the works of the past on the new, in which (as the third stanza of this poem describes) no art work is necessarily better than its predecessors but it is merely its form which changes. In the case of this poem, though, I tried to draw the structure of influence as flippantly as possible, by using Lewis Carroll's "Jabberwocky" as a template for the opening line and the rhythm.

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This page was published on June 15, 2008 | Keywords: parrot, words, speaking, repetition

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