Open ground: American mythologies and Jorie Graham's "Pollock and Canvas"

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In the poem ‘Pollock and Canvas’, from her 1987 collection The End of Beauty, Jorie Graham describes Jackson Pollock's radical reinvention of painting as a struggle to ‘keep the gap alive’.1 This essay argues that whilst such a struggle articulates a desire (and a fear) that Graham sees as central to Pollock's painting, it can also be seen to animate her own poetics, her own sense of what it might mean to be an American poet at the turn of the twentieth century. Indeed, Graham's reading of Pollock in this poem depends on a poetic process of opening up America's mythological imagination of itself. Graham's attempt in ‘Pollock and Canvas’ to keep the gap alive signals an attempt to investigate the ways in which America has configured itself both literally and metaphorically as open ground.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)128-145
Number of pages18
JournalWord and Image
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2006

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