Reading Experiments. A New Materiality of Language in Contemporary Finnish Poetry.
How does the expressional experimentation common to contemporary poetics alter the way readers perceive the meanings of a poem? In other words, how should the reader react to the ”new” in new poetry? For if – as the word ”new” seems to imply – something has radically changed in the way poetical texts confront the world, shouldn’t the reader also modify hers/his approach towards the texts?
Finnish poetry of late 20th century has been dominated by a notion of autonomous, modernist trope. Under the modernist regime, images, conceits, similitudes and metaphors have defined not only the way in which poetry is written, but also the ways in which poetry is read, analyzed and interpreted. The experimental practices of the new poetry in the 21st century have questioned the representational autonomy of the modernist image. The poetical experimentation has been defined, from a readers’ point of view, as breaking up of both a single voice and the overall coherence of a (modernist) poetic text.
One possible and – especially in the contexts of the new forms of expression that have emerged in Finnish 21st century poetry, e.g. in the works of Harry Salmenniemi and Henriikka Tavi – relevant approach is to stress the materiality of language as a starting point of a literary analysis. The notion of language as primarily material defies and questions the dictatorship of representation, the unparallel power of image as a path or a window to sublime meanings.
When framed within the context of new materialist (art) philosophy, the material language of the new poetry is conceived no longer as a means of representation (tropes), but as a plane or field of intensifications, affects and the sensational, transformative relationship between the reader-subject and the text-object. Poetic language transforms from figurative to figural, as the term introduced by Gilles Deleuze suggests.