The Macksey Journal


Oxford English Dictionary

Intact, adj.

Definition: “Untouched; not affected by anything that injures, diminishes, or sullies; kept or left entire; unblemished; unimpaired”

Etymology: “Latin intactus, <in- [prefix expressing negation or privation] + tactus, past participle of tangĕre to touch”

To be intact – to be unbroken – is to be untouched. Theodore Adorno defines lyrical language as an expression of an individual’s personal subjectivity into universality through specific concepts and signs. However, to render a minoritized subject into a language designed to oppress them is to make that subjectivity lose its intactness. By bringing in Paul Ricoeur’s conception of the metaphor as a discursive linguistic act which has to work on the level of the sentence as a thought-structure, this paper examines how line breaks and metaphors allow the expression of a minoritized subjectivity. I argue that the line break in the poetry of Ilya Kaminsky and Natalie Diaz disrupts the logic of the sentence and unsettles the metaphor, breaking the “wholeness” of the sentence while maintaining the “intactness” of the thought. This paper applies sociolinguistics to contemporary American poetry in order to theorize the place of the poetic line in Ricoeur’s rule of the metaphor. If “in the phenomenon of the sentence, language passes outside itself,” then the breakage of that sentence into the poetic line has the potential to decolonize that oppressive language.