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This project examines epistolarity— the interaction of the desire for exchange with the materiality of the letter—in the spiritually contemplative letter sequences of James Baxter and Lucie Brock-Broido. Exchange-desire and its indicators include such compositional devices as apostrophe, formal openings and closures, and the letter as prayer; materiality encompasses the paradox of static representation versus physical transfer, the meeting of speech act and property through writing, the potential to upset time through authorial effigy, and the vocabulary of a death language. The lyric poems of the Jerusalem Sonnets and The Master Letters, partly because of their epistolarity, further the endeavor Sharon Cameron describes in Dickinson’s verse; these poems also “attempt to cross boundaries, to blur distinctions between life and death, time and timelessness, figure and its fulfillment, or, to put it more accurately, to wear a passage between them—which is the poem—and, in so doing, to seek refuge in a presence whose permanence will withstand temporal change” (Cameron 135)
Porte, Rebecca, "Return to Sender: Epistolary Form in James K. Baxter’s Jerusalem Sonnets and Lucie Brock-Broido’s The Master Letters" (2005). English Honors Projects. 2.
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