One of the primary mode of inscriptional poetry, from the ancient to the
Romantic period, was to, at an epideictic level emphasize in its practice and
aim, the transitioning consciousness between Homo loquens and Homo scribens;
that is the shift from human speech to human writing. W. J Ong specifies this
connection to the eighteenth century mode of enlightenment philosophy, wherein,
it was held essential that literacy can only be defined when the individual
also knows how to enunciate his thoughts not only in speech but also
significantly, through writing in order to be identified as civilized. Hence,
inscriptional poetry, which emerged from the tradition of the pastorals and
made ordinary simpleton of rustic life as the addressee, was discursively
incorporating this enlightenment idea of civilizing them  by order of ensuring and testing the fruits
of literacy. For detail, see W.J Ong, Orality and Literacy, London: Methuen,
1982, pg 85


In his review of Marjorie Welish’s Casting Sequences; this has been put on the
blurb of the book.

We Will Write a Custom Essay Specifically
For You For Only $13.90/page!

order now


Stephen Greenblat, following the idea of Gilles Delueze, talks about this idea
of self- fashioning induced by repetition. “The repeated acts of self
fashioning are never absolutely identical… We can only speak of repetition by
difference or change that it causes in the mind that contemplates it. The
result is the object of desire, at first so clearly defined, so avidly pursued,
gradually lose their sharp outlines and become more and more like mirages.” (in
“Marlowe and the Will to Absolute Play”, Renaissance Self-Fashioning: From More
to Shakespeare, Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2012, pg 217)


Gilles Deleuze in his book, Difference and Repetition,
reevaluates Freud’s concept of the pleasure principle, and finds that egos or
the excitation of desire works through repetition; and these repetitions are in
nature driven by a narcissistic force which in turn forms the basis of
contemplation and results in an endless struggle of investing in self-image to
the point where all these objects of repetition becomes “hallucinatory” and
different from what one was or is. (Refer p 96 and 97 of Difference and
Repetition, trans Paul Patton, London: Continuum, 2001)



1  The word “fibula” is derived from the Latin


1  The word “tabby”


1  Here, I bring in the concept of fractal
theory as used in mathematical logic, and which, I see  can be traded and applied to semantic theory
by re-evaluating  the formulations
proposed by  Quine, Nelson Goodman and R.
M Martin. The only reservation in assimilating these two recondite
epistemological fields is to gather a framework that instead of proposing rules
of finitude, works toward understanding the infinite dimension of conceiving a
displaced poetics. Welish categorically does not affiliate to any single
tradition of philosophical thought and this practice of approaching earlier methods/
theories of compositions acts as a leverage in bringing novel ways of engaging
with theoretical boundaries and their consequent pragmatics in poetic language.


1  For further information on inscription and
concatenation, refer to R. M Martin, Truth and Denotation: A Study in
Semantical Theory. New York: Routledge, 2015, p 277 chapter XI- XII


1  For instance, the structure of the narrative
in Raymond Queneau’s Blue Flowers; the design of the labyrinth in Borges, ” The
Garden of Forking Paths”; and Ron Silliman’s “The New Sentence”.


While proposing his geometric proof on the highest quantifiable number, (which
was supposed to be more than the grains of sand collected from all the lands on
earth) Archimedes, in his correspondence to Gelon, King of Syracuse, uses a
tone so sonorous as to have never been exercised by any mathematician or
present day musician. He writes: ” And let the last number of the first period
be called a unit of numbers of the first order of the second period. And again,
let a myriad myriads of numbers of the first order of the second order of the
second period be called a unit of numbers of the second order of the second
period. Similarly—… And let the process continue up to a myriad-myraid units
of the myriad- myriadth order of the myriad-myraidth period.” Translated and
quoted by Robert Kaplan in The Nothing That Is: The Natural History of Zero.
New York: Oxford University Press, 1991, p 32.


1  Alain Badiou in his book Conditions, writes;
” I call philosophy’s inscription everything that turns the void of the address
into a subsisting mark… Inscription is the marking of this void, the
interminable procedure of a subsisting suture with the subsistent, the
effectivity, the void. The inscription is open to all…”  Alain Badiou, Conditions.Trans Steven
Corcoran, New York: Continuum, 2008, p28.


1  In an interesting and comprehensive study on
the history of zero, the mathematician Robert Kaplan notes: “… letting the
pleasures of doodling lead us to writing as decoration rather than to the
peculiarly abstract sort of representation it zero inclines toward: the
making of signs to look through rather than at.” Here, indeed, he is
considering mathematical investigation of different inscriptional forms of zero
(across civilizations) along with the practice of calligraphy. Since, the
difference in representation of zero was largely dependent on the use of
writing tools available to specific cultures. Here, both the writing tools the
surface of inscription as well as through which instrument it is inscribed and
handwork become determinants of the creation of different symbolic forms. See,
Kaplan Robert, Ellen Kaplan. The Nothing That Is: The Natural History of Zero.
New York: Oxford University Press, 1991, p 16


See, Lessing’s remark quoted in Geoffrey Hartman’s, “Inscription and Romantic
Nature Poetry” in the book, The Unremarkable Wordsworth, Minneapolis:
University of Minnesota Press, 1987 ,p 33. See, Roy Harris, Rethinking Writing,
London: Continuum, 2000, p 49 . See Paul Ricouer, Interpretation Theory:
Discourse and The Surplus of Meaning. Trans, Ted Klein. Texas: Texas Christian
University Press, 1976 (p 33, 43)


Parenthetical emphasis mine. The font size is in accordance to Welish’s
original format of the poem.


Refer to the interview of the poet conducted by Judith Goldman, November, 2008-


1  The page numbers have been indicated
according to sequence of publishing history: page 57 indicates the beginning of
the poem “The Signage That Was There” and page 54 indicates section “4” of
“From Dedicated To”.


This poem appears in Isle of the Signatories (2008) and all subsequent
citations are from this book, unless otherwise stated.


See Yi-Fu Tuan’s essay, “The Significance of The Artifact”, Geographical Review,
Vol 70, Issue 4, October(1980),p 462-472. Here, elaborating upon Hannah
Arendt’s, The Human Condition, he writes; “Artifacts are thrust into the world.
They have the power to stabilize life…the artifact has high visibility and
permanence in people’s awareness and enables mortals to savor immortality”
(463). In her interview with Bob Perelman, Welish said, “… as a fruitful way of
thinking about object— not in terms of their material properties but in terms
of their cultural properties, the object in this sense being not the thing that
has a morphology that can be traded and may end up in museums, but indeed that
which does have a material form yet is, culturally speaking, text.”(41) Levy,
Aaron and Jean-Michel Rabaté, eds. Of the Diagram: The Work of Marjorie Welish
.Philadelphia: Slought Books, 2003.


For instance, his work, Sacco and Vanzetti’s Reading Room (1987-94) includes  chairs and a large desk upon which lay a
number of open books pertaining to the American constitutional rights. Armajani
uses these inscriptions of law to suggest the vacuity of its truisms against
the execution of the two Italian immigrants who came to America for better
economic opportunities. His most recent works such as Written in Berlin : Tomb
for Bonhoeffer and Walter Benjamin (2014-15) Written Iran (2015-16)
inscriptions fill up the entire built environment, straining meaning in case of
the former, and in the latter, attempts being made to resurrect the political
exigencies of ancient Iranian revolutionary poets.


Marjorie Welish, “Inscriptions” American Poets, Journal of the Academy of
American Poets, 2009. Originally posted on 20th February, 2014. https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/text/inscription


























Ashbery, John. Selected
Poems. New York: Elizabeth Sifton Books, Viking, 1985

Deleuze, Gilles. Difference
and Repetition. Trans. Paul Patton, New York: Continuum, 2001

Derrida, Jacques. Of
Grammatology. Trans. Gayatri Chakraborty Spivak. Baltimore: John

 Hopkins University, 1997

——.”Signature Event
Context”, Limited Inc. trans. Samuel Weber. Evanston: Northwestern

Press, 1988

——.Writing and
Difference. Trans, Alan Bass. New York: Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd, 1978

Diggory, Terence. Encyclopedia
of the New York School of Poets. New York: Facts on File Inc,


Falconer, Kenneth. Fractals:
A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: University of Oxford Press,


Funk, Thomas. The
Poetry of David Shapiro. Cranbury: Associated University Presses Inc, 1993

Greenblatt, Stephen. Renaissance
Self-Fashioning: From More to Shakespeare, Chicago:

University Press, 2012

Guest, Hadley Haden.
Ed. The Collected Poems of Barbara Guest. Connecticut: Wesleyan

 University Press, 2008

Harris, Roy. Rethinking
Writing. London: Continuum, 2000

Kaplan, Robert and
Ellen Kaplan. Nothing That Is: The Natural History of Zero. Oxford: Oxford

Press, 2000

Levy, Aaron and
Jean-Michel Rabaté.eds. Of the Diagram: The Work of Marjorie Welish.

Slought Books, 2003

MacKay, John. Inscription
and Modernity: From Wordsworth to Mandelstam. Blommington:

 Indiana University Press, 2006

 Martin, R.M. Truth and Denotation: A Study in
Semantical Theory. New York: Routledge, 2015

Ong, Walter J. Orality
and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word. London: Routledge, 1985

Perloff, Marjorie. Differentials:
Poetry, Poetics, Pedagogy. Tuscaloosa: The University of

Press, 2004

 Ricouer, Paul. Interpretation Theory:
Discourse and The Surplus of Meaning. Trans, Ted Klein.

Texas: Texas Christian University Press, 1976

Stevens, Wallace.
“Inscriptions For a Monument”, Others: An Anthology of  The New Verse.

 Ed. Alfred Kreymbog, New York: Alfred A Knopf
Press, 1916

Welish, Marjorie. Handwritten.
New York: Sun Press, 1979

——.The Windows Flew
Open. Providence: Burning deck Press,1991

——. Casting Sequences.
Athens: The University of Georgia Press,1993

——.The Annotated “Here”
and Selected Poems. Minneapolis: Coffee House Press, 2000

——.Word Group.
Minneapolis: Coffee House Press, 2004

——.Isle of The
Signatories. Minneapolis: Coffee House Press, 2008

——.In The Futurity
Lounge: Asylum For Indeterminacy. Minneapolis: Coffee House Press,


——.So What So That.
Minneapolis: Coffee House Press, 2016

Walt. Leaves of Grass: The Death Bed Edition. U.S: Modern Library, 1993