I was 40,000 words deep when I realized that my book was not working. Titled Poet’s Calculus, it was a tour of the concepts of calculus, connecting each to a topic in the humanities. Interested in mathematical limits? Check out the fluid meanings of Adrienne Rich’s poetry. Curious about velocity and acceleration? Turn your attention to these paintings by Edgar Degas. The flaw that has taken you 30 seconds to see—my connections were strained, baffling, and defiantly obscure—took me ages to accept. Finally, my editor told me that the titular word “poet” wasn’t playing well with the marketing team. Also, she added delicately, they weren’t crazy about the word “calculus.”
I’m sure the three experimental poets reading this website are rolling their eyes already. Guy applies some constraints to generate a viable work of prose. Huh.