Compos(t)ing Presence in the Poetry of Carl Leggo: Writing Practices that Disperse the Presence of the Author

Elizabeth de Freitas


This paper was presented as part of the Carl Leggo keynote address at the third annual CSSE pre-conference for the Language and Literacy Researchers of Canada. The paper explores the possibility of deconstructing “presence” in reflexive writing. The author examines Leggo’s “writing as compos(t)ing” as an example of arts-informed reflexive writing that problematizes the desire for presence, and argues that Leggo’s “clown” poetry interrogates notions of transparency in reflexive writing. Reflexive writing traces the presence of the writer in/through the text. It is a form of writing that celebrates the power of personal story to illuminate the intersections between self and society. The desire for presence, however, is never innocent and never without complication. In tracing that presence - in writing reflexively - the writer inscribes silence and absence while simultaneously making her/himself visible.

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