Mutlu Konuk Blasing: On "In the Waiting Room"

"In the Waiting Room," then, properly tells or narrates the "growth of a poet's mind." The poet originates in the recognition of her separation from, and identity with, her world, at once finding and losing her "self." Her birth or awakening comes with a scream from inside the dentist's office that is also the voice of the child in the waiting room, since "inside" says "either." When the child produces her explanation, she is a poet:

How—I didn't know any word for it—how "unlikely" . . . 

To explain an identity in nature, she finds the word "unlikely"; the perception of sameness is unlikely, because it is more than a likeness or likely. If all accounts of phenomena are likely stories only, the breach that gives birth to the poet is an origin that both is and is unlikely. This is also the breach of metaphor—unlikely identities. The scream, which is not "like" the child's voice but is hers all the same, signals a birth into natural identity and an unlikely language. For one's identity, one's sameness with and difference from others and objects, comes to be adequately revealed in the unlikely likenesses of metaphoric language. If there is an "inside" or a primal source that is glimpsed in the child's vertiginous insight, it is covered up or "framed" by the conspiracy of common sense, "objective" facts, and grammar—of nature and poetry: "You are an I, / you are anElizabeth, / You are one of them." And the source disclosed in the grammatical cleavage of "you are an I" is not a luminous star but nothingness itself, "cold, blue-black space," split by a cry—"an oh! of pain"—that might have been ours.



Title Mutlu Konuk Blasing: On "In the Waiting Room" Type of Content Criticism
Criticism Author Mutlu Konuk Blasing Criticism Target Elizabeth Bishop
Criticism Type Poet Originally Posted 05 Sep 2014
Publication Status Excerpted Criticism Publication American Poetry: The Rhetoric of Its Forms
Printer Friendly PDF Version
Contexts No Data Tags childhood, childhood identity, adulthood, family relationships, sameness, identity in nature, growth, self, personal awakening, Perception

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