Of Soaps and Time: Robyn Schiff on the time-shifts of 'Days of Our Lives'

Robyn Schiff, director of the Undergraduate Creative Writing Track at the University of Iowa, discusses the movement of time in the television drama Days of Our Lives in her essay, 'Hell Mouth' on the Poetry Foundation website. Now in its forty-seventh year, Days of Our Lives twists its characters through braided bands of past, present and future: "Soap opera plotting turns on documentation," Schiff writes. "Marriage contracts, adoption records, birth certificates. In a world where amnesia is as common as seasonal flu, time-stamped public records say 'I was here' with the authority of law and physics."

Schiff later relates these "time shifts" to the poetry of Lyn Hejinian: "I admit this kind of time travel shocks me for the same reason that I am shocked when a poet reenters his or her own text through something of a wormhole." Schiff references Lyn Hejinian's revisions of My Life and Suzanne Buffam's short poem "On Geological Time".

Schiff also seems concerned with how a character can sustain itself, and what sort of character does: "She’s been kidnapped, forced to marry, dipped in a vat of toxic waste, brainwashed, and has confused her own identity with a deeply suppressed angry personality within that resides in the trauma of the early loss of her mother who was killed when she stepped between Hope and an oncoming car." Even more chillingly, Hope's perfectly preserved face seems to give a physical representation of this temporal phenomenon. "Hope is still stunning after more than twenty years on the show, but whittled in the uncanny manner plastic surgery has of bringing the corpse right up to the edge of the soul."

The full article can be found here: Of Soaps and Time

Robyn Schiff's poetry has recently appeared in the 16th issue of the literary journal A Public Space and her limited edition chapbook, Novel Influenza was published by the Catenary Press earlier this summer and is now available to order through the website and copies are available at Prairie Lights.

Article by Denise Behrens.

Hour-glass image by CDRyan.