Semiotics and poetry – why the relational axes might yet increase our understanding of poetic practice

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The paper will consider syntagmatic and paradigmatic relations in the poetry of Michele Leggott. The syntagm is a sequential lexical unit, including anything from a compound noun to a line or stanza; it is seen as occupying a horizontal axis, and concerned with the positioning of words. The paradigmatic is a vertical axis and concerns possible substitution of words; it has much to do with the choices a particular poet makes which suggest the ‘other’, with aspects of composition that are less logical and more intuitive. The paper also considers the implications of the binary oppositions of this discourse and what the relational axes might say about the use of space in a poem. I argue that the use of space in the layout of a poem is paradigmatic rather than syntagmatic and that the use of space sometimes constitutes an act of substitution for language. The paper moves towards a wider understanding of semiotics with reference to deconstruction and assemblage theory.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalTEXT: Journal of Writing and Writing Courses
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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