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"The Sentence Is A Lonely Place"

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by

Katharine Monger

on 28 November 2013

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Transcript of "The Sentence Is A Lonely Place"

"The Sentence Is A Lonely Place"
& the temptation for the writer to get out of one sentence
as soon as possible
& get going on the next sentence is entirely

understandable.
But too often our
habitual and hasty
But some other writers
seem to know that it takes more than that for a sentence to cohere and flourish as a work of art.
The sentence, with its narrow typographical confines
is a lonely place,
the loneliest place for a writer,
Gary Lutz
In fact, the conditions in just about any sentence soon enough become (shall we admit it?) claustrophobic, inhospitable, even hellish.
undeveloped parcels of literary real estate
breaking away from one sentence to another results in sentences that remain

sentences that do not feel fully inhabited and settled in by language.
The sentence is a situation of words in the most literal sense:

words must be situated
in relation to others
to produce an enduring effect on a reader
As you situate the words, you are of course intent on obeying the ordinances of syntax and grammar, and you are intent as well on achieving in the arrangements of words as much fidelity as is possible to whatever you believe you have wanted to say or describe.

unless any willful violation is your purpose—
A lot of writers—many of them—unfortunately seem to stop there.
They seem content if the resultant sentence is free from
obvious faults
and is faithful to the lineaments of the thought or feeling or whatnot that was awaiting deathless expression.
They seem to know that the words inside the sentence must behave as if they were destined to belong together...
These writers recognize that there needs to be an intimacy between the words, a togetherness that has nothing to do with
grammar
or syntax
but instead has to do with the very shapes and sounds, the forms and contours, of the gathered words.
The words in the sentence must bear some physical and sonic resemblance to each other
—the way people and their dogs are said to come to resemble each other
the way children take after their parents
the way pairs and groups of friends evolve their own manner of dress and gesture and speech
The impression to be given is that the words in the sentence have lived with each other
for quite some time,
decisive time,
and have
deepened
& grown
& matured
in each other’s company—
and that they cannot live without each other.
undeveloped parcels of literary real estate,
Full transcript