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Whorf & his fictive Eskimo.

Good Shannon
* * *

Good Shannon,

I see the method has misled you
when I say method you hear map
it approximates English never really being so
think in terms of atomic models, Claude
while you scruple the surface it glares
sound & sense seduce with their friction

what broken phrase is not to hear?
you seem as if someone is reading
just like Whorf & his fictive Eskimo
the ad hoc nonsense names for snow
you counted the words but you failed
to go & speak with that Eskimo
bent over a hole in the ice
waiting for anything to rise & breathe


* John Tipton lives and works in Chicago, where he is the director of the Chicago Poetry Project. His chapbook, clause automata was published by Cello Entry The "Shannon" and "Markov" in his first two poems can be glossed as follows: Claude Shannon (1916-2001), father of information theory which he presented in A Mathematical Theory of Communication. The book is an analysis of human language using, among other tools, abstract mechanisms known as "Hidden Markov Models' He worked at Bell Labs. Andrei Markov, 1856-1922, Russian mathematician, studied properties of random variables called Markov Chains which later informed "Hidden Markov Models." He was interested in poetry and made studies of poetic style.
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Author:Tipton, John
Publication:Chicago Review
Article Type:Poem
Date:Mar 22, 2003
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