The Sliding Scale of Self-Repair in Dennis Haskell’s Acts of Defiance


  • Page Richards


The contemporary lyric’s rich possibilities for resituating history and life stories still remain largely unexplored. Lyric poetry and history have always had, understandably, an uneasy relationship; the lyric is traditionally linked to the symbolic, not to fact or even necessarily, as we know from medieval or earlier poems, to a speaker that we can name or authorise. Yet, the instrument and agency of lyric evolve too, like science and technology, making room for strengths previously unexploited, rooted and waiting. Dennis Haskell’s powerful body of work, balancing on a delicate and self-referential focus on human language itself, offers us a glimpse into the future. This article offers a critical study of 21st ecosystems of human language, as acts of self-repair, a perspective permeating Dennis Haskell’s pioneering and poetic cycle of work, resonant with medical discoveries in our era. As we look ahead through the lens of Haskell’s “geographies of time,†we also explore lyric legacies of the elegiac, pointing us to update continuously our apprehension of the human body of language among the larger balances, of earth and space, and, then again, with one another, up close.


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How to Cite

Richards, P. . (2020). The Sliding Scale of Self-Repair in Dennis Haskell’s Acts of Defiance. Asiatic: IIUM Journal of English Language and Literature, 13(2), 36–57. Retrieved from



Section II: Section on Dennis Haskell: Articles