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Volume 34, Number 2 (2009)

Inhabitable Spaces in Claire Harris’s She

February 23, 2010


Claire Harris’s poetry has proven remarkable not only for its eloquence and its challenging subject matter but also for its use of a visually experimental form. In Harris’s She, the visually experimental form is used to perform the protagonist’s pursuit of a non-constrictive space, where she can function as a productive adult. Constructing herself as the marks on the page rather than the creator of those marks – the written instead of the writer – Penelope reveals that the page does not ultimately offer her the welcoming space she seeks. She is left wondering, “i am fiction / so who writes me?” The hegemonic imperial control of language renders it impossible for Penelope to write herself on a clean slate. Rather than a space where she can freely construct a representation of herself and her experiences of colonialism and immigration, the blankness of the page is infused with her sense of lost history and loss of self.