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Thomas Pinkhurst

Thomas Pinkhurst

Chaucer’s narrator of The Canterbury Tales told his audience to “turn the leaf [page] and choose another tale” if offended by certain stories such as the raunchy Miller’s Tale. This was the first known use of a metafictive device in English literature, and it surprised fourteenth century readers to be addressed directly by a literary character. But no doubt it engaged them. Seven-hundred years later, The Hayfield’s poet begins with a try at another metafictive device, and it’s a drunk trespassing over the boundaries of his poem.

But Demod Smith appears to have been ignorant of the 700 years—from Chaucer to Lawrence Sterne to Tom Stoppard–in which the metafiction contrivance developed.   With his amateurish poetry, the contrivance is nothing more than a crutch.  More than that, with his opening line, the poet has excused himself from verisimilitude and warned us that things will get sloppy.

All leading me to wonder if the late Mr. Smith had any discipline. I wouldn’t be surprised if the interrupted haiku was really just a limerick. And as I sit out here in the Ozark humidity of a late Indian summer swatting bugs, picking off ticks, waiting with down-spiraling expectations for more of The Hayfield to appear, it is unfortunate that I can’t simply “turn the leaf.” I, for one, am already “offended” but a contract, an investigation, and Dr. Leucas’ willingness to suffer some foolishness all require us to see this tale through.

One Response to “Line 1: “When a drunk enters your poem””

  1. [...] colleague’s calls for respectfulness to the recently deceased notwithstanding, I repeat my earlier concern that this poet uses contrivances such as drunks and eclipses that create just enough chaos to hide [...]

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