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The cell restricts, but in doing so it allows a move outward, beyond the limitations of one’s own body and time. Recalling W. H. Auden’s praise of “metrical rules that forbid automatic responses,” Batchelor finds freedom in formally structured stanzas: “The verse form becomes an equivalent of the rock-cut cell: a confined space of solitude and contemplation that opens up the possibility of saying something that is not determined by familiar desires, fears, and aversions.” I have had this feeling when writing Elizabethan sonnets: the strictures of rhyme and meter pulled me in unexpected directions, my subconscious offered up unbidden words that suited my sense, if not my intention. Batchelor’s short chapters are fragments of a larger story, but they are also small rooms in which unexpected connections can happen.
Irina Dumitrescu – lareviewofbooks.org/article/in-praise-of-solitude/