This essay explores ideas of materiality and affinity in poems through the kinds of things poets refer to or place into a poem, and how they place or structure things into poems. It considers three very different poets doing different things with things: Gertrude Stein, Frank O’Hara and Inger Christensen. It examines how these writers use things in their works to say something, variously, about connections and discontinuities, sensibilities and the indexical, and ideas of scale via the public and/or the private. These three writers do this via interpretative modes which raise questions about representation either by resisting signification, or by tracing materiality through objects either as systems of objects or as ‘found’ or encountered objects.
Keywords: Poetry – things – objects – materiality – Gertrude Stein – Inger Christensen – Frank O’Hara