Making kin in image and void : poetics of xiangwang in American ideogrammic poetry

  • Cuilin Sang

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis (PhD)


This dissertation explores the connections and mutual enrichment between a daoistically re-viewed American ideogrammic poetry and the poetics of xiangwang 象罔(image and void/web) deriving from early Chinese and Daoist thought. Tracing the gestation of the poetics of xiangwang in this poetic lineage back to Ezra Pound at his metro moment, when he envisioned a poetic medium both as a “pattern” and a “color”, this study discusses two strands of American ideogrammic poetry that are respectively pattern-minded and color-minded. From the perspective of xiangwang, the former is examined as wang-oriented and a poetry of patterned void, that is, a poetry coauthored by a voided heart-mind and a patterning mechanism, whereas the latter is examined as xiang-oriented and a poetry of imaging the unhewn. This study seeks to demonstrate that these poets, via these two poetic avenues with their own idiosyncrasies, are united in their effort to re-shape the English language into an ideogrammic poetic medium, which, through the Daoist lens, can be read as a language of focus and field.
Date of Award14 Jun 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of St Andrews
SupervisorJohn Burnside (Supervisor), Don Paterson (Supervisor) & Sam Haddow (Supervisor)


  • Ezra Pound
  • American poetry
  • Daoism
  • Jorie Graham
  • Marianne Moore
  • Jonathan Stalling
  • Charles Olson
  • Ideogram
  • Mei-mei Berssenbrugge

Access Status

  • Full text embargoed until
  • 8 April 2027

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