Distributed and Entangled Posture in Catherine Wagner’s My New Job and Nervous Device

  • Holly Pester
Part of the Modern and Contemporary Poetry and Poetics book series (MPCC)


This chapter theorises a combination of body, performance and text, exploring the varying facets of work that configure the processes of effort and encounter in a poem using the poetics and critique of wage labour developed by contemporary North American poet Catherine Wagner in her collections, My New Job and Nervous Device. Wagner’s situated relationship between wage labour, social reproduction, poetics, and the body effort of performance becomes the critical framing for a phenomenologically influenced notion of ‘posture’ as drawn out to address how instances and environments of research, writing, and performance intersect with and produce the poem. The chapter develops the idea of ‘posture’ to define the body’s activity in performance, a term which can encompass the poem’s field and period of research, the related deskwork, and the poet’s position within the wider context of its industry, i.e. the field, the academe and the office. Linked with Blake’s notion of “the bounding line,” posture becomes a way of thinking together the physical gesture of performance, the conditions of the (art)work’s relation to the poet’s labour subjectivity and the body’s temporality

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Holly Pester
    • 1
  1. 1.University of EssexColchesterUK

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