How to Write a Paper About a Play

The dramatic performance presents a dynamic literary work. This means that information, visual, and aesthetic factors are equally important. Academic writing can also become a challenging but exciting task. If you are an audience enjoying theatrical performances, you are also a critical analyst to evaluate the quality of the script. You want to summarize the plot of the drama, make a detailed analysis and evaluation of the drama performance, and also consider the standards of performance, guidance, stage background, and many more. If you are asked to write a paper about a play, the mentor should clearly indicate which type of play is needed. In this article, we will discuss how to write a paper about a play.

  • Analyze The Plot: Write A Short Script Summary.

Examine each character and its performance. Whether the performers’ body movements and gestures can accurately convey the characteristics of the characters, and whether their performance is faithful to the original script. You should evaluate stage design elements like costumes, actor makeup, lighting effects, sound effects, and soundtracks. You should also assess the Language used. Whether the actor’s expression of hints is clear, whether the audience can easily understand it, and whether the actor uses prose or poetry in language expression. You can also examine the views on the stage scene. Whether a suitable stage atmosphere has been created, and whether a clear time period and place have been set for performance. Examine the arrangement of the play and indicate whether the scenes are coherent and whether the plot of the play is complete.

  • Writing The Play

To write a play, in the beginning, the writer must have a tendency and love for theatrical art. One must have the desire to write the play. After that, he or she must observe the conditions of writing the play. They consist of three main elements: the story, plot, characters, and dialogue. Here, we will learn the method and steps of writing the play.

  • Steps To Write The Play

When writing the play, it is necessary to adhere to the elements of the play, and we will explain each of the elements of the play separately. In the beginning, we must have a story that we can convert into a play. Usually, not all stories can be converted into plays, especially those that take place in more than one area, unless the writer decides to reduce the multiple places to only two or three. Sometimes I do pay someone to write my paper, whenever I find it difficult to do so. However, while placing the order, I do make sure that the writer has the ability to convert the plot in the story into a plot of the play. This is essential to be able to define the boundaries of each chapter of the play and its scenes, as for expressions.

  • Dialogue

You should have the ability to compose the dialogue. Here, you must pay attention to many things, such as improving the reincarnation of various personalities and multiple patterns by thinking about their way and behaving as they appear in real life. Such as the role of the policeman, the farmer, the poet, or the artist. The personality should relate to a way of thinking, talking, and behaviors that differ from others. However, sometimes the writer must pay attention to the exceptions imposed by the text on him. On the other hand, the writer must have the ability to play the text and change it from intensity to flexibility and from sadness to happiness and so on.

  • Characters

The writer must specify the dimensions of each character in the play, in addition to the way it deals with events and its role in the theatrical work. So that all the characters reach a peak and then reach the end, just as the writer must not reduce the characters as he could, and not leave any character on the stage without a goal or dialogue. It is also preferable for the writer to mention the place of the exit and entry of all the characters on the stage during the performance of the play, as it facilitates the director and the actors a lot. Mention the most important psychological expressions that the actor recoils. State how they are performed. You may mention things such as when the policeman writes (emotionally) you are the criminal, so do not resist. Just submit yourself to justice. Finally, the writer must pay attention to the thrill and suspense in the text to attract the viewer to continue the play.

  • Writing Process

Do not forget to indicate the name of the director, the time of the show, the place of the show, and the name of the performance group. A brief overview of the script plot. Indicate the main thrust (revelation or theme) of the script. Put forward an argument. Focus on what has been shown or not shown to the audience in one or two scripts. Express personal opinions on what the director and costume designer is trying to achieve. Why do they design performance costumes, lighting effects, and sound effects like that? What thoughts or feelings do they want customers to get? Indicate whether the script deviates from the original in terms of plot. Emphasize what you think is the most important aspect of the script, and use arguments to support your point. If you notice the negligence of the script director or costume designer in your work, point it out boldly. Also, explain how to improve.


Remember, in the conclusion section, do not try to restate your arguments mechanically. Base your argument on why the response is important and effective. In the paper about the play, you must show your ability to analyze, evaluate, and think about the script you are watching. Do not cover everything (every change in the costume, every decision of the director, every action of the actor, among others.) Instead, focus on the most important aspects of your work. Now you know how to write this type of academic paper and what tips you must follow. You can understand the relationship between theory and practical skills by taking a closer look at the paper about the play.

Effects of European Invasion and Colonization on Native American Populations

European civilization has changed the sense of community and tribal ties for the Native American populations. The Chippewa, poem, civilization is introduced by a letter written by John Wayne on how the drive-in picture is packed. Symbolism is used to refer to the colonization of North America, by the introduction of the aspect of mosquitoes (Erdrich 238). Regardless of the spirals surrounding the Pontiac, the mosquitoes still manage to break through the window screens baying for blood. This means that despite the efforts put into place by local natives of North America in protecting their culture, history, and norms, the colonizers still manage to find their way through to disrupt their lives. In the resistance, natives lose their lives in a bid to protect their roots. They are being described as dying beautifully, that the clouds created an environment of vengeance. Colonizers always fought to take away or be in complete control of everything that they found in a colony. However, it is not through resistance that one acquires what has been forcefully taken away from them because it only leads to death. A symbolic phrase “the eye sees but the heart is blind” has been used to demonstrate the extent to which civilization has taken root in the North American society. Natives want to put up a resistance to protect their land and everything in it, but their efforts are scampered because of the lack of belief, they submit themselves to the effects of colonization. You can read how it was in other countries in this global history essay.

Louis Erdrich introduces Susy, who stays in Alaska, and when she takes Henry and the brother to her home, there are aspects of stereotypes, the children in that place could not get over him (Erdrich:108) because they looked different and this made them be viewed in a different way. Colonizers who came into the place were considered in a different way; they were viewed as embodying different values, norms. Growing up in ethnic America, there are services which cannot be accessed by locals, and this is shown by the incident when Henry’s brother suffers an injury; blood was dripping from his mouth (Erdrich 108). Henry’s mother reiterates that they cannot be given access to the regular hospital and that he would not be fixed in that hospital (Erdrich 109). Colonization has brought different systems, where there is discrimination in the provision of services in North America. The fact that Henry’s mother has many husbands shows the impact colonization has had on the locals; that women are allowed to practice polyandry (Erdrich 109). The poem is centered on the lives of Indians, who to an extent, were the first occupants of the United States of America. The car in the poem is used as a symbol to demonstrate the ethnicity that brewed between the Indians and the colonizers. Despite the car being new, Henry tried to fix the car to make it more appealing to his brother, but his efforts did not make any significant change (Erdrich 114). Regardless of the adverse effects of colonialism including discrimination of services, people still tend to blend in by copying the values, norms, and practices of colonialists.

Sherman introduces victor, who after losing his job, dies from a heart attack in Phoenix, and the tribunal council could not do much to help him meet the costs of his father’s burial. His childhood friend, Thomas has known his father all his life. Thomas once told Victor that his father had a weak heart and that he feared his own family as he watched television late into the night until he heard white noise. Victor’s father wants to run away and does not want anyone to find him (Alexie 59). Thomas claims that he heard about the death of Victor’s father on the wind, from the birds, and in the sunlight. This piece of article brings in the fears of Indians over the influence of whites in their native state. They were too old to become warriors, to defend their traditions, their history, their culture, and their resources. White influence sets in where Thomas was flirting with a white woman on the plane, something which was not allowed in the Indian culture. Thomas begins denying his roots when asked by Cathy whether they were Indians, which he denied by stating that he is the half magician and half clown. It is clear that Indians and whites do not share a lot in common judging from the joke of Thomas where nobody laughed. Victor concedes that not everyone is nice, and when they accidentally killed a jackrabbit, Victor claimed that it was the only thing that was alive in the whole state. Civilization had driven sense out of the community, had broken tribal ties, and Victor conceded that the only thing he could share with people was broken dreams and a bottle.

History of Dance

The essay was about the history of dance and how it is related to the history of societies. As such, a connection was established between social history and dance history in society.

The primary purpose of dance has been to express the emotions and thoughts of human beings in society. As such, dance has evolved as the human societies have been changing to a point where it has become a popular means of communication, competition, health, and expression. This includes acting as a ritual and ecstasy in society.

The three things that I learned today are: the evolution of dance has occurred in the same way as the human societies have evolved over time. Secondly, dance is as old as the human societies. Finally, human societies have undergone tremendous changes over time.

The greatest impact is the value that human societies have given to dance. Thus, dance is considered as the key means of expressing emotions and thoughts of individuals in society.

In reflecting, dance has been given significant importance since the ancient times. As such, people cannot do without dance. However, modern dance is considered as a means of erosion of cultural values and ethics in society.

This essay teaches the importance of dance in society. Thus, dance has to be appreciated in all form and manner as it is seen in the modern social environment.

This essay is important because it helps in understanding the connectivity that exists between dance evolution and the development of human societies. Further, this lecture advocates for the value of dance in the community and society since the ancient times of human development and evolution.

From Miracle to Psycho Drama- The Evolution of British Theatre in a Nutshell

Life is all about evolution, and evolution refers to a process of constant expansion and branching. Being a light which illuminates all facts, it is a curve that all lines must follow. Theatres are a great example which portrays the importance of architecture and literature contemporarily and historically in British culture.

British theatre possesses a rich history, from playwrights such as William Shakespeare to actors like Laurence Olivier. In the modern days, audiences still love to challenged and entertained once they go to theatres, and getting to hear ideas which may not be expressed anywhere else, you can read about this in essays about poetry.

Drama in Britain emerged from church services from the 10th century onwards at Easter. Mystery cycles of plays basing on the Bible were performed by the 14th century outside the church by members of craft guilds in such cities as Chester and York. So how has the British Theatre evolved from miracle to psychodrama?

  1. Early Theatre and Religion, the beginning of British theatre (1350)

During the medieval period, religious stories were used by the church to control and distract the country. Religious storytelling was the root of theatre which essentially grew out of this. It was necessary to entertain the public after the Black Death trauma. These plays were in the form of miracle plays and mystery cycles. Mystery cycles dramatized stories sourced from the Bible, whereas miracle plays stories were about the saints’ lives.

  1. Royalty and entertainment (1576)

Henry VIII banned all religious performances after centuries of spiritual inspiration for theatre, preventing plays from the spread of Catholicism. Setting up his own ‘Church of England,’ he demanded people follow the faith instead. Theatre, later on, flourished in the 16th Century, building playhouses and opening its doors in 1576 in London.

  1. Elizabethan Theatre, The Globe Theatre (1599)

In the late 16th century, besides royalty, all classes of society visited the public theatres. Audiences developed a voracious appetite for new plays, and thus the theatres became popular. Writers were employed as new companies flourished, satisfying the novelty demand.

Theatre was still under playwrights and royal control, and if they went too far, they faced imprisonment. The possible repercussions playwrights faced did not bar the industry from growing, in 1599 the iconic Globe Theatre was built. It was purposely constructed for the Lord Chamberlain’s company with William Shakespeare being amongst its members.

  1. 17th-Century Theatre, more royal restrictions (1660)

This was a turbulent time for British theatre, from the closure of the theatres and lavish court masques under the decadence of Restoration drama and Cromwell. Patented theatre became familiar with non-patented theatre and legitimate theatre as illegitimate theatre. Progress was witnessed in 1660 when Margaret Hughes became the first woman on stage.

  1. 18th-Century Theatre, Censorship (1737)

Theatre flourished as new playhouses were built in London and the provinces, and many theatres enlarged. Among the most successful shows being the ballad opera The Beggar’s Opera. Theatre began satirizing the government, and politicians tightened theatrical censorship in response.

With dramatic creativity effectively stifled, writers turned to illegitimate theatre or novels for creative freedom. Regardless of an amendment in 1843, the act remained in use and place until 1968.

  1. Innovations in acting (1747)

Theatrical innovations of David Garrick marked the point when writers, actors and other theatre-makers began taking control. He introduced sweeping changes, and actors were subjected to intensive and new rehearsal. He was also responsible for radical stylistic advances in acting, bringing more realism and emotion to the time exaggerated expressions.

  1. 19th Century, Naturalism on stage (1867)

New theatres opened satisfying a demand for entertainment from the workers flooding into the major cities with the Industrial Revolution taking hold. In the Victorian era theatre’s popularity meant the patent system was no longer functional. It was therefore ended in 1843 and allowed more opportunities in drama. With its end enabling the theatre to develop artistically.

  1. Kitchen sink dramas (1947)

Interest in the arts became bigger in post-war Britain, as audiences were keen seeing stories with which they identified with. ‘Kitchen sink’ dramas provided them.

  1. Power of the director (1955)

The director’s role became the vital creative force. The directors’ theatre notion began in Europe, spreading to Britain. Sir Peter Hall in 1955 directed the first Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot English language production, cementing his reputation.

  1. End of censorship and Club theatres (1963)

The power of theatre was in the hands of theatre-makers, begun challenging authority. Until it ended in 1968, theatres were avoiding government censorship constraints and traded as private clubs.

  1. Contemporary theatre (2006)

Theatre kept evolving as a vehicle for pushing boundaries and challenging establishment. Black Watch, premiering at 2006 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, told the Iraq War story through the soldiers’ eyes from the Black Watch regiment; theatre at its arresting and controversial.

  1. Contemporary controversy (2015)

The religious outrage caused the closure of Behzti at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre in 2004. The play sparkling riots due to a rape and murder staging in a Sikh temple. In 2015, Homegrown Play about Islamic radicalization was canceled days before opening. Regardless of all the difficulties, British theatre is reflecting modern life, to tell stories and challenge taboos.


Guest Editor for issue 8

Ok, issue number 7 is queued up and ready to go so we’ve decided to take a short break while we pass the editorial duties over to someone else for issue number 8. To make it interesting we’re opening it up to all of you; anyone who thinks they’d like to try their hand at editing a literary publication is free to apply. If you would like to be considered please send us an email sketching out why you want to edit an issue of the Burning Bush 2 and, equally important, why we should let you!

Things you might like to know:

1. We hope to have the issue out in February 2015.
2. We’re open to discussing themed issues or special features.
3. We’ll look at all applications received before November 16th 2014.
4. All queries to [email protected]

That’s it, we look forward to hearing from you.

The Editors.

Interview with Christodoulos Makris

In the penultimate interview of this series, we talk to poet Christodoulos Makris.

How long have you been writing?
With various intentions, from a very young age. A sustained engagement with the act of writing as an artistic discipline began in early 1997. Since then it’s been constantly shifting in terms of intensity and motivation, as well as form and approach.

What was your first publication?
A report on a school sports event for a national newspaper when I was about 10… In poetry, it was either a short piece in west47, Galway Arts Centre’s now defunct (& seemingly vanished without trace) online literary magazine, or two poems in my own translation into Greek for the Nicosia-based journal Άνευ. Both around the same time in 2004. A first collection, the chapbook Round the Clock, came out in 2009.

What have been the most significant developments, negative and positive if you like, in poetry in Ireland over the last 10 years or so?Without a doubt the grassroots movement in spoken word / performance poetry. In the general absence of radical poetics, this is where a welcome challenge to some longstanding hierarchies, and to a monolithic understanding of what poetry can do and be, is coming from.

What do you think needs to happen, and what would you like to see happen, in Irish poetry over the next few years?
I’m wondering whether the shortcomings we perceive don’t in fact form a necessary part of the conditions that each of us responds to or even writes against. For me these include: the closed, inward-looking environments (territorial, linguistic, formal) pervading the vast majority of the poetry written/published here – also contributing to a stale critical culture; the scarcity of outlets (whether in terms of regular events or publications) encouraging the development of material that’s of its time, with the hybrids and fusions in form, content and medium that this implies; the almost nonexistent exploration of conceptual writing strategies and ideas of process; and so on.

We often hear in Ireland of the pull from either Boston or Berlin: broadly speaking, are Irish writers European writers in the English language or wholly steeped in the Anglosphere?
I find the notion of a unified writing community that works within some imagined collective mode hard to accept. A rather alarming notion, in fact.Finally, if you had to recommend one regular poetry event in Ireland to someone, what would it be?
Wurm im Apfel: after a year’s absence the worm is returning to reoccupy Dublin’s poetry apple. Judging by the poets it introduced to audiences here in the past (derek beaulieu, Jaap Blonk etc) we’re in for a renewed treat!

Christodoulos Makris was born in Nicosia and has lived in Manchester, London and since 2001 in Dublin. His collections include Spitting Out the Mother Tongue (Wurm Press, 2011) and the artist’s book Muses Walk (2012). He also made the short film Safe as Houses (2013). Tw: @c_makris

Interview with poet & critic Michael S. Begnal

The final interview in the series is, fittingly enough, with poet, critic & founder editor of the original Burning Bush magazine, Michael S. Begnal.

How long have you been writing?
I started writing song lyrics in my teens, and not-very-good poetry in my late teens up to around age twenty. So maybe it’s better to ask when I started writing good (or at least readable) poetry, and I would say that would be from age twenty-one on. I am presently forty-seven.

What was your first publication?
It was a poem in an American journal called Endless Mountains Review in 1988 or ’89.

What have been the most significant developments, negative and positive if you like, in poetry in Ireland over the last ten years or so?
Well, it’s been almost ten years since the last Burning Bush print edition (Spring 2004). I’d like to think that TBB played some small role in opening up the Irish scene to new or different modes of poetry than what had been the norm for all intents and purposes up to that point. Of course there were other things going on. I think the publication of Trevor Joyce’s with the first dream of fire they hunt the cold (New Writers Press / Shearsman) in 2001 was a signal event, in that it was perhaps the first “experimental” collection to gain notice on a wider scale at that time. Michael Smith’s editorship of Poetry Ireland Review was also a big deal. He brought to public view some very important poets who had not had such a platform for a long time, along with new poets who might otherwise not have appeared there either. So, Joe Woods (former Director of Poetry Ireland) handing PIR over to Smith in 2002 was extremely significant. Wild Honey Press began in the late 1990s I think, and they continue to publish some really great stuff. I know I’m leaving out many people who have contributed positively to Irish poetry in recent years, but I would say that anyone who does something — puts out a book, a pamphlet, organizes a reading, takes a critical stand in an essay or review perhaps — without necessarily waiting for outside support or government funding — all of this stuff matters.

What do you think needs to happen, and what would you like to see happen, in Irish poetry over the next few years?
Following on from my previous comment, I think people just need to do what they want to do. It’s great to have a publisher, for example, and believe me, I’m very thankful to have one – but if you don’t have one, or maybe perhaps as a prelude to getting one, there’s nothing wrong with forming a collective of sorts and putting out your own stuff, for your own circle, and perhaps in the process of sending that out it will get notice. It would be ideal to have Arts Council funding for your journal or project, but you don’t have to give up if you don’t have that. Poets existed for hundreds, thousands of years, with or without official support. If you want to write, write. It’s great that the Arts Council exists and that the state even supports the arts at all, but if you don’t have funding, you just do it anyway, somehow. Bear in mind that I am not talking about vanity publishing. I’m talking about a group of writers getting together on a grassroots level to make something happen. And who knows where that will lead. Also, number two, people need to understand that coming down on a side in poetry and making an argument for it is a good thing. It doesn’t mean you ought to be insulting or disrespectful, but making a case for your position is a part of life, in my view. Don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but aesthetics is something that is contested and necessarily lends itself to debate.

We often hear in Ireland about the pull of either Boston or Berlin: are we European writers in the English language or are we wholly steeped in the Anglosphere?
I don’t think it’s an either/or situation. What’s wrong with an Irish writer identifying as an Irish writer? It’s tough enough trying to figure out what that means. That said, since English is the majority language in Ireland, it’s a given that both American and other English-language poetries are easily available to Irish poets. Nothing wrong with that. There’s great poetry to be found everywhere, if you look hard enough. In regard to language, Continental poets are a bit further away for most, though I know that Ireland in general identifies with Europe far more than, say, England does. Of course, translation more or less obviates that difficulty, and I know some Irish poets who would strenuously assert their interest in French, Russian, Spanish, or Italian poetry. A further way to look at the question, instead of positing two outside poles, is to consider additionally the native Gaelic tradition, which is extremely rich, and the whole body of contemporary Irish-language poetry. Irish poets can draw on that too. But whatever it is that gets you going, you don’t necessarily have to categorise yourself as one thing or the other. We can draw on all sorts of influences and still be Irish, or (also in my case) American, or European, or just ourselves. “Irish” can mean many things, and it does.

What was the best or most memorable reading you’ve attended?
There are any number of great readings I’ve seen at festivals like Cúirt or reading series wherever, in Ireland and America both. But I’m going to go back to a more local Galway history and say that the open-mic nights at the now long-defunct café Apostasy in the late 90s were memorable for reasons I suppose I’ve just mentioned earlier. While a lot of it was mind-numbingly bad, which you’ll have at any open-mic night, it provided a platform that allowed a grouping of sorts to come together and work some things out — our own poems in progress on the one hand, and larger questions on the other, for those who were serious anyway, like what next?

Michael S. Begnal has published four collections of poetry; his most recent is Future Blues, (Salmon Poetry, 2012). His poems, essays and reviews have appeared internationally in numerous journals and anthologies, in print and electronically. He blogs at

Interview with poet Afric McGlinchey

Continuing our interviews this Friday lunchtime with some of the writers who have contributed to the Burning Bush 2, we have award winning Irish poet Afric McGlinchey.

How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing sporadically since my teens. When I returned to Ireland in 1999, I started attending workshops at the Munster Literary Centre, and that increased my commitment. But it became an obsession after I did a six month Faber Academy course in 2010!

What was your first publication?
It was The lucky star of hidden things, a poetry collection, published by Salmon in 2012.

What have been the most significant developments, negative and positive if you like, in poetry in Ireland over the last 10 years or so?
From a positive point of view, the increase in the number of open mic venues has helped enormously in creating the sense of a poetry community, as well as the opportunity to try out your work, and develop confidence in delivery. Also there are several new  journals, both in print and online. But as we’re a small country, there’s the danger of a lack of diversity. There’s also been a leap in the number of competitions on offer,  so there’s more opportunity to win or be shortlisted, but it’s possibly of less value now, as they’re so common. And the rise in cost of entry fees is unwarranted and very off-putting in certain competitions. Then there’s the proliferation of MA and M.Phil degree in creative writing, which might raise the bar in terms of quality of writing, but might also add to the homogeneity of work coming out of Ireland.

What do you think needs to happen, and what would you like to see happen, in Irish poetry over the next few years?
Anonymous submissions to journals would be great, to avoid cronyism, or bios influencing decisions. We have a lot of festivals, but I’d still like to see more poetry discussions and academic talks rather than writers merely reading from their new books. I think that would add an exciting dimension. But prices for festival tickets need to go down. €18 per event is simply too expensive. I’d also like to see more of a gender balance in the work published. In fact, we need more female editors too.

One positive direction I’ve noticed is working towards making poetry more visible to the general public – for example, in shop windows  (Pól O’Colmain organized this during the poetry marathon in Skibbereen). I’d love to see more of this: at bus shelters, in banks, hospitals, on trains etc. I also think the page poets and the performance poets could learn from each other. I like Christodoulos Makris’s Vice Versa initiative,  where poets are paired to read each other’s work. And I loved Dimitra X’s Poetry Series. These are great innovations.

Boston or Berlin: are we European writers in the English language or are we wholly steeped in the Anglosphere?
From where I’m standing, we appear to be steeped in the Anglosphere, unfortunately. I think it would be very exciting if there were more incentives for engagement with European poets, translation exchanges etc. I’ve been selected as one of seven writers going to Italy next year on an  Italo-Irish literary exchange, something that the Irish Writers’ Centre was instrumental in setting up, along with their Italian counterparts, and I think that’s definitely a step in the right direction.

Finally, if you had to recommend one regular poetry event in Ireland to someone, what would it be?
Cork’s O’Bhéal, of course! But not only because I’m biased – I’ve heard many guest readers from all over Ireland and abroad say that it is the best venue they’ve visited. And I’ve read at many venues myself, in Ireland and in England,  and it’s a hard one to beat for atmosphere, the welcome, and attentive listening.

Afric McGlinchey grew up in Ireland and Africa. She is a workshop facilitator, editor and reviewer and tutors poetry online at Her debut collection, The lucky star of hidden thingswas published in 2012 by Salmon Poetry. She won the Hennessy Award for Emerging Poetry in 2011 and the Northern Liberties Poetry Prize (USA) in 2012.  She lives in West Cork.

Vice Versa, curated by Christodoulos Makris, takes place in Granby Park, Dominck Street, Dublin 1 at 3pm this Sunday 1st September.

Begnal Reviews Exteroceptive by Sarah Hayden

Review: Exteroceptive (Wild Honey Press, 2013)by Sarah Hayden

I first began reading Wild Honey Press chapbooks (pamphlets) back around the year 2000, when I reviewed some for a print issue of the old Burning Bush. (One such essay was reproduced on the Wild Honey website and can be read here.) This small press, published by Randolph Healy, is one of Ireland’s (and the world’s) most interesting and innovative presses, and I’ve continued to read many of its poets since then. So it is fitting, I think, and certainly a pleasant task for me to review one of the latest Wild Honey publications, Sarah Hayden’s Exteroceptive

This 29-page, hand-stitched collection contains some of the most remarkable poetry I’ve read in a while, actually. The title, which I’ll admit I had to look up, means “pertaining to exteroceptors, the stimuli acting upon them, or the nerve impulses initiated by them” (exteroceptor: “any sensory organ or part of the body, such as the eye, able to receive stimuli from outside the body”). Thus, Hayden purports to examine through poetry the workings of the senses. However, the senses can be deceived, and perhaps more to the point here, deranged. Hayden is more interested in simulating exteroceptive disruption, through language use, than straight-forward, “accurate” description/imagery, which quickly becomes obvious in the first section of “Optic”: “this exhibit has been removed from view / but pulses still in its tang in a high-chem vibrato”. That the “exhibit has been removed from view” in a poem titled after the sense of sight should clue the reader in that his/her expectations ought to be left at the door. A little further on in this poem, the speaker notes, “my eyes itch”. “Optic” ends with two beautifully hallucinatory sections, the latter of which employs unconventional typography and a heavy dose of parataxis.

The next poem, “Auditory”, engages in some interesting soundplay, including rhyme and alliteration, foregrounding the poet’s ear for language. Then, almost contradictory to its own title (though then again perhaps not), shifts into some remarkable visual images. For example:

Itching up against each other


calf tendons taut

from boot to boot

they are

a herd of twitching deer. . . .

Even here, though, there is a conciseness in diction and sound that makes this scene sing. Then we find “A double-membraned egg” that “is thick / but sensate / perversely mapped with hot / wet nerves”, which is ultimately seen “hissing in foul puddles.” At this point (if not before), the astute reader notices a heavy-duty Surrealist influence on Hayden’s work, and then sure enough, in the poem “[Proprio]”, there is an allusion to André Breton (with the name “BRETON” appearing in block caps). The poem “Olfactory” seems to faintly echo James Joyce with its portmanteaux and especially resembles Finnegans Wake chapter II.2 in the use of cryptic footnotes. Joyce is not exactly a Surrealist, of course, but theWake does deal with the subconsciousness. Remember that Surrealism does not mean just any old thing that is bizarre or unexpected. It is instead defined by Breton in his 1924Manifesto of Surrealism as “Psychic automatism in its pure state, by which one proposes to express — verbally, by means of the written word, or in any other manner — the actual functioning of thought. Dictated by the thought, in the absence of any control exercised by reason, exempt from any aesthetic or moral concern.” (Breton further elaborates: “If the depths of our mind contain within it strange forces capable of augmenting those on the surface, or of waging a victorious battle against them, there is every reason to seize them — first to seize them, then, if need be, to submit them to the control of our reason.”)

I happen to love Breton and Joyce, as well as Mina Loy, who could also be a touchstone here, and it is good to see a contemporary poet picking up where they left off. But Hayden has her own concerns and speaks to her own contemporary moment — in one clever aside, she refers to herself as “the artist autophagically cheerleading / signing her hyper-alliterative aphasia from the acropolis of the last-ever occupy camp”. “[Proprio]” is something of an artistic manifesto, in which such depictions of “the artist” appear in different forms throughout. Also notable is “the artist as an unsentimental collector. remember this as she truffles through your waste / paper”. The enjambment here puts something of an emphasis on the word “waste”, and it reminded me of a scene in the 2008 documentary film The Examined Life (by Astra Taylor) where Slavoj Žižek walks through a garbage dump asserting that garbage is in fact the perfect metaphor for the contemporary world. (As Arthur Vafin interprets this scene, “The waste deposit is an example of how man escapes from garbage, in a wider sense — from the thing one is most afraid of. It seems as though the thrown out garbage disappears from our world. However, it disappears only from the world of illusions, but still exists in reality” [International Journal of Žižek Studies 6.1]). What Hayden’s poetry suggests is that we need to see our world as it really is, even if it means that it is a decadent world, and even if therefore we approach it through sense perspectives that are themselves skewed or compromised. On the one hand, she seems to say, we must artistically embrace the world as “waste” even while, on the other, we must highlight, respond to, and oppose the financial and other forms of corruption that led to the Occupy movement.

The final three pieces in this collection, “Olfactory”, “Haptic” and “Hypogeusic”, therefore further the sense of decay and confusion posited in the first half: “This is the smell that blinds” reads a line in “Olfactory”. In “Haptic”, with its “vegetal reek”, there is the image of

scoliotic youths loung[ing]

among the wider branches   jaded panthers

feeling themselves


more aptly aligned

            they sigh hotly, abrading petulant mouths

“Hypogeusic” describes a landscape of “leaf litter and curdled splatter” and “rusted pools”. A dream, our reality in some way, or both? It is not just in her images, however, that Hayden embraces decay, but in her language as well. Like many progressive contemporary poets, she is of course aware of the mediated nature of language, and so there are lines like “phonemes coagulate / whole sentences compose themselves in a slow ear”. But I also find her individual word choices to be quite interesting. Throughout this chapbook she utilizes “flowery” and/or Latinate words, not only in her titles but all over the body of her poems: “infructuate”, “excrescence”, “indexicality”, “vitrine” “osteoporitic”, “automata”, “agglutinative”, “farinaceous”, etc. There is a view held by some English-language poets, often put forward as the conventional wisdom of writing poetry, that such diction is “weak” and therefore undesirable and decadent, and that basic Anglo-Saxon words are “strong” and therefore better. Hayden deliberately turns this notion on its head and thereby suggests, rightly I think, that the English language in itself is decadent, sullied and mixed up, and that therefore a good writer can do whatever the hell s/he wants in it, if s/he can pull it off. In Exteroceptive, Hayden pulls it off.