Readers React

Numbers chaperoning words? Not to this poet

To the editor: Stephen Marche's fanciful essay on the increase of numerical orientation in literature is both historically questionable and oddly limited to "verse" to make his case. ("The act of writing in the age of numbers," op-ed, April 18)

Coming from a novelist, I have to wonder why he leaves fiction out of his take on "literature." Maybe it's because fiction would seem to have no such devotion to things numerical, though I guess you could say in the broadest sense that it's just a glorified form of "word processing" as he defines that.

Anyway, I can assure you most poets including me are not writing with any concern for counting as they go and are not engaged in hiding the fact in their so-called free verse by "camouflaging the numbers" or "staying furtively mathematical." That claim is a fiction, literate but nonsensical.

What most poets are concerned with is writing highly charged and evocative language that concentrates emotional and intellectual content with precision and style. We can leave numbers to the mathematicians, thank you.

T.R. Jahns, Upland

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