A Mosaic Patterning: Space, time and the Lyric Essay

Rachel Robertson, Paul HETHERINGTON

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    7 Citations (Scopus)


    This paper arises from a collaborative practice-led research project between an essayist and a poet/prose poet that theorises the lyric essay as mosaic-like in terms of its form and patterning. The project involves on-site creative practice in four cities and examines five primary themes–time, hands, identity, brokenness and risk. Raymond Edouard Isidore’s highly suggestive pique assiette mosaics are our initial point of departure for this paper, representing as they do the joining and juxtapositioning of material that would otherwise be dispersed and fragmented. We read Isidore’s work as an analogue for the fragmentation and juxtapositioning of the texts of lyric essays which, in turn, enables us to consider the lyric essay’s positioning between narrative explicitness and poetic compression, and the relationship between time and space within such essays. We make use of Mikhail Bakhtin’s concept of the chronotope to tease out ideas of literary time and space, and also employ Erwin Straus’s idea of ‘presentic’ space and movement, ‘free of direction or limits’. We discuss lyric essays by Paul Hetherington and Brenda Miller to illustrate and exemplify our key points.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)36-46
    Number of pages11
    JournalNew Writing
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2017


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