Poetry and Breathing

Beyond Subject and Object

This paper will consider the ways in which the poetic form echoes a visceral experience of embodiment that re-imagines the relationship between subject and object. Through a focus on poetic elements such as the rise and flow of line, the vital pauses of punctuation and white space together with the slip of association and metaphoricity, this paper contends that the lyric poem in particular not only recreates the experience of the respiring body but offers us an inhabited insight into an interplay of inside and outside, self and other, what sustains and what speaks. In this way, both poetry and breath can be seen to provide a deconstructued paradigm for subjectivity -- a subjectivity that emerges from the flow of overlap and connectedness rather than differentiation. In this sense, the poem speaks the body as well as the body speaking the poem. Informed by a conceptual framework that includes Thích Nhất Hạnh’s concept of ‘interbeing’ as well as Levinas’ notion of the face as it meets the breathing face of the other, this discussion references the work of eco-poet Anne Elvey in addition to my own poetry project, ‘Remarkable as Breathing.’