Joanne Feit Diehl

Get Paid To Write Online

Get Paid to Write at Home

Get Instant Access

Despite many poets' explicit aversion to literary theory, poetry and theory have been closely entwined throughout the twentieth century. Indeed, from the era of the New Criticism to the current experimentation of the Language Poets, poetry has reflected and responded to theoretical premises, sometimes to embrace and at other times to challenge theory's presuppositions. In this essay, I assert that poetry has a distinctive relationship to theoretical issues because poetry, by its very nature, foregrounds structural elements and the deployment of language. Poetry I suggest is proprioceptive: discreet, idiosyncratic choices of language cast a self-reflexive light onto the underlying theoretical assumptions that inform the poem's writing. Thus, poetry might be regarded as a staging, a theatricalization of whatever premises govern that poem's specific, imaginary construction. Historically, poetry has been on the cusp of controversy as its shifting forms experiment with issues of expressivity, language usage, and the poetic 'self'.

Given the richness and complexity of the relationship between poetry and theory throughout the century, I present here a description of that relationship which focuses upon three facets of this historical interplay: the controversy surrounding the applicability of psychoanalytic methods to literary works, the effect of deconstruction on contemporary poetics, and the theoretical issues that inform contemporary poetry. My emphasis on these three historical moments does not, however, mean to suggest that other theoretical movements were not of crucial importance both to the reader and writer of poetry over the course of the past century. The rise of the New Criticism, the significance of reader-response theory, the underlying premises of Marxist practice - all deserve a forum for discussion. Yet I remain convinced that a more thorough exploration of how a few schools of thought affect the writing of poetry will better illustrate the ways in which the creative imagination is influenced by and itself transforms ideology.

Crucial to recent developments in poetry and literary theory is the controversy surrounding the self - whether a poem accurately represents the voice of a singular, unified authorial imagination or whether the poem comes from a 'subject position' and denies its author the status of an identifiable, writerly self. As Terry Eagleton, writing of the Russian formalists, recalls, 'Pushkin's Eugene Onegin, Osip Brik once airily remarked, would have been written even if Pushkin had not lived' (Eagleton, 1996, p. 3). While poets have struggled with the contested nature of the self, psychoanalytic criticism, in contrast to deconstruction, has shored up the authorial subject and argued that the expressive voice of a poem finds its source in a singular imagination. What the contemporary psychoanalyst, Jessica Benjamin, remarks vis-à-vis the deconstructive position of the self can equally be applied to the literary field:

Psychoanalysis has to retain some notion of the subject as a self, a historical being that preserves its history in the unconscious, whatever scepticism we allow about reaching the truth of that history. Even if the self is not unitary but has multiple positions and voices, psychoanalysis must be able to conceive of the person's singularity, his or her aesthetic or unique idiom (Bollas, Being A Character, 1992). Even if the subject's positions are 'constructed, psychoanalysis must imagine someone who does or does not own them' (Rivera, 'Linking the Psychological and the Social: Feminism, Poststructuralism and Multiple Personality,' Dissociation 2, no. 1, 1989). And precisely because psychoanalysis claims that something else that is not-I (not ego but It) speaks, that the self is split and unconsciousness is unknown, It must also be considered to belong to the self. And this idea of an otherness within, an unconscious, unavoidably both transforms and preserves (Aufhebung) the idea of a transhistorical, essential self: not a Cartesian ego, not even all ego, but still a being separately embodied, and in that sense an individual psyche. (Benjamin, 1998, p. 13)

The current controversy between the psychoanalytic understanding of the self and the postmodernist concept of the discontinuous and elided 'subject' is, moreover, just the latest forum for the ongoing debate about the nature of the authorial subject and its relation to poetic voice. We are descendants of a Wordsworthian past, and Wordsworth's definition of the subject of his poems, 'emotion recollected in tranquillity', affects his Romantic and post-Romantic heirs, predicated as it is upon a unified, continuous, historically constitutive self that draws upon the memories of a knowable and present identity. This sense of an abiding identity of mind is intimately related to the Romantic and post-Romantic notion of poetry's mission, its special grace. Writing in 1998, Robert Pinsky, the United States Poet Laureate, expressed his view of the distinguishing quality of poetry:

Poetry is a vocal, which is to say a bodily, art. The medium of poetry is a human body: the column of air inside the chest, shaped into signifying sounds in the larynx and the mouth. In this sense, poetry is just as physical or bodily an art as dancing.

Moreover, there is a special intimacy to poetry because, in this area of the art, the medium is not an expert's body, as when one goes to the ballet: in poetry, the medium is the audience's body. (Pinsky, 1999, p. 8)

This intermingling of poet and reader in which the reader assumes the role of corporeal vessel expressing the poet's voice is predicated upon the Wordsworthian ideal. Interestingly, T. S. Eliot, who elsewhere advocates the displacement of emotion upon the object world and enforces thereby an illusory distance between poet and poem, draws upon a similar constellation of Wordsworthian feelings. In 'The Music of Poetry' Eliot writes that poetry 'remains, all the same, one person talking to another; and this is just as true if you sing it, for singing is another way of talking. The immediacy of poetry to conversation is not a matter on which we can lay down exact laws. Every revolution in poetry is apt to be, and sometimes to announce itself to be, a return to common speech. That is the revolution which Wordsworth announced in his prefaces, and he was right' (Eliot, 1957, p. 23). Strikingly, Louise Glcik and Adrienne Rich, two poets who could not be more different, share this aesthetics of intimacy and bodily speech. In her extraordinary sequence 'Marathon', Glcik draws upon the myth of Cupid and Psyche to inscribe the corporeal as Eros marks the body, transforming it into a sign that testifies to desire:

3. The Encounter You came to the side of the bed and sat staring at me. Then you kissed me — I felt hot wax on my forehead. I wanted it to leave a mark: that's how I knew I loved you. Because I wanted to be burned, stamped, to have something in the end — I drew the gown over my head; a red flush covered my face and shoulders. It will run its course, the course of fire, setting a cold coin on the forehead, between the eyes. You lay beside me; your hand moved over my face as though you had felt it also -you must have known, then, how I wanted you. We will always know that, you and I. The proof will be my body.

Of the relation between poet and reader, Glcik comments, 'When you read anything worth remembering, you liberate a human voice; you release into the world again a companion spirit. I read poems to hear that voice. And I write to speak to those I have heard' (Glcik, 1995, p. 128). So important is the voice for Rich that numerous poems ventriloquize as they inhabit other women of power. Rich reclaims silenced women of history by capturing the powerful cadences of her own imagination. Thus, she both identifies herself with courageous women from the past and provides access to their autonomous selves. Repeatedly Rich has argued for a 'common language', a Wordsworthian, Romantic notion, but here applied to the desire for a demotic and female-identified speech. Conversation is her model for poetic communication. In a similar vein, Glak states, 'I wanted a poetry that said, "Come here, let me whisper in your ear." Clandestine' (Glak in private conversation with the author).

As powerful as Rich and Glak are, however, they exemplify only one hitherto dominant ideological position, that of the late Romantic, expressive poet. If literary theory has exercised a major influence upon poetic tradition, it is in the area of authorial subjectivity, the very tenet of primary importance for the Wordsworthian poet. Here, following the lead of Roland Barthes and Jacques Derrida, theorists have postulated the disappearance of a unified subjectivity — the author vanishes. Philosophically, what these thinkers challenge is the concept of a single, transhistorical consciousness that can be identified as a unified self. As Ron Silliman has remarked of the LANGUAGE poets, who have embraced the absence of a coherent selfhood, 'Our work denies the centrality of the individual artist. . . . The self as the central and final term of creative practice is being challenged and exploded in our writing' (Silliman et al., 1988, p. 264; quoted by Perloff, 1999). Along with this dispersal of subjectivity has come a sweeping experimentalism as the linearity and conventionally normative patterns of poetic discourse are uprooted, replaced by a radical poetics that abjures linear reasoning along with an overt subjectivity. Interestingly, however, many of the most experimental poets advocate the importance of the voice, the performative aspects of poetic production. Poetry readings, poetry 'slams', open-mike events — all privilege the poet as performer. Of course, the performative aspects of oral presentation emphasize spontaneity and the illusion that one is creating one's self in the moment, qualities contrary to the notion of a unified self-coherence.

Diametrically opposed to the postmodernist condemnation of the traditional poetic self, psychoanalytic theorists predicate their work on the very presence postmodernists would deny. Perhaps the most noteworthy and notorious of these theorists is Harold Bloom, whose theory of poetic influence is nothing if not, to use Jacques Lacan's phrase, 'The Language of The Self'. Yet the self Bloom invokes is not simply the biographical author but what he calls 'the poet within the poet'. Reaching back to Freud, particularly to his theory of the Oedipus Complex, Bloom posits an agon (a struggle or war) between the would-be young poet and his most powerful precursors. The young poet misreads his formidable progenitor and responds to that reading by swerving from his interpretation to create his own version of a poem. This process of misreading, swerving and reconstituting the imaginative field is laced with oedipal anxiety. As Bloom states, 'Battle between strong equals, father and son as mighty opposites, Laius and Oedipus at the crossroads; only this is my subject here' (Bloom, 1973, p. 11). Indeed, Bloom conceives of this agon as defining the Western poetic tradition from the Renaissance to the contemporary:

Poetic Influence - when it involves two strong, authentic poets - always proceeds by a misreading of the prior poet, an act of creative correction that is actually and necessarily a misinterpretation. The history of fruitful poetic influence, which is to say the main tradition of Western poetry since the Renaissance, is a history of anxiety and self-saving caricature, of distortion, of perverse, wilful revisionism without which modern poetry as such could not exist. (Ibid., p. 30)

Although Bloom insists that the authorial self he describes is the 'poet as poet', the psychodynamics of poetic influence that he elaborates is based upon a psychology of the creative self. As Bloom asserts, 'Poems are written by men, [sic] and not by anonymous Splendors' (ibid., p. 43). For Bloom, the individuality of the poet is synonymous with the authenticity of the poem:

Yet a poet's stance, his Word, his imaginative identity, his whole being must be unique to him, and remain unique or he will perish, as a poet, if ever even he has managed his re-birth into poetic incarnation. (Ibid., p. 71)

What Bloom offers is not simply a psychological portrait of 'influence' but a 'practical criticism'. In line with this stated ambition, Bloom designates six phases in the life of the 'poet as poet' which provide a guide to reading. According to Bloom, the stages — Clinamen, Tessera, Kenosis, Daemonization, Askesis and Apophrades — constitute a rubric through which to understand the process by which the 'strong' poet comes to write. 'Clinamen' the first term, is a swerve, or a poetic 'misprision', by which the poet creates a space for 'himself' by misreading the powerful precursor's work:

Let us give up the failed enterprise of seeking to 'understand' any single poem as an entity in itself. Let us pursue instead the quest of learning to read any poem as its poet's deliberate misinterpretation, as a poet, of a precursor poem or of poetry in general. Know each poem by its clinamen and you will 'know' that poem in a way that will not purchase knowledge by the loss of the poem's power. (Ibid., p. 43)

For Bloom, 'the true history of modern poetry would be the accurate recording of these revisionary swerves', a process by which the younger poet misreads his precursor and swerves away from what he misperceives.

Once he has misperceived the poem and in that act created an opening for himself, the poet establishes both a link to and a 'correction' of the poetic father's poem: 'In the tessera, the later poet provides what his imagination tells him would complete the otherwise "truncated" precursor poem and poet, a "completion" that is as much misprision as a revisionary swerve is' (ibid., p. 66). What the young poet accomplishes is the requisite need for his own intervention. In Bloom's words, 'the tessera represents any later poet's attempt to persuade himself (and us) that the precursor's Word would be worn out if not redeemed as a newly fulfilled and enlarged Word of the ephebe' (ibid., p. 67).

Coming to the precursor's poem belatedly, the 'ephebe' (the younger poet) performs a 'kenosis' or '"emptying", at once an "undoing" and an "isolating" move ment of the imagination' (ibid., p. 87). Bloom is now ready to posit a 'pragmatic formula': '"Where the precursor was, there the ephebe shall be, but by the discontinuous mode of emptying the precursor of his divinity, while appearing to empty himself of his own." However plangent or even despairing the poem of kenosis, the ephebe takes care to fall soft, while the precursor falls hard' (ibid., p. 91).

Asserting that 'every poem is a misinterpretation of a parent poem' and that 'criticism is the art of knowing the hidden roads that go from poem to poem', Bloom reiterates the intrapoetic nature of the theory he presents (see ibid., pp. 94, 96). In order to acquire the authority of poetic power, the poet engaged in this intrapoetic struggle seeks access to the Sublime by claiming it for his precursor. 'Daemonization attempts to expand the precursor's power to a principle larger than his own, but pragmatically makes the son more of a daemon and the precursor more of a man.' Ironically, 'daemonization . . . is a self-crippling act, intended to purchase knowledge by a playing at the loss of power, but more frequently resulting in a true loss of the powers of making' (ibid., p. 109).

Not yet assured that he has gained primacy over his precursor, the younger poet performs an apparently ironic manoeuvre, which Bloom calls askesis, 'a self-curtailment which seeks transformation at the expense of narrowing the creative circumference of precursor and ephebe alike'. 'The final product of the process of poetic askesis', Bloom continues, 'is the formation of an imaginative equivalent of the superego, a fully developed poetic will, harsher than conscience, and so the Urizen in each strong poet, his maturely internalized aggressiveness' (ibid., p. 119).

For his description of the final phase of the imagination's agon, Bloom invokes the ancient calendrical term apophrades, 'the dismal or unlucky days upon which the dead return to inhabit their former houses'. The 'strongest' poets 'achieve a style that captures and oddly retains priority over their precursors, so that the tyranny of time almost is overturned, and one can believe, for startled moments, that they are being imitated by their ancestors' (ibid., p. 141). Although 'the mighty dead return', they do so 'in our colours, and speaking in our voices, at least in part, at least in moments, moments that testify to our persistence, and not their own' (ibid., p. 141). The final imaginative gestures of the strongest poets are at once 'cunning' and uncanny, for these poets create the literalistically absurd phenomenon of themselves seeming to have generated their predecessors' language.

As should by now be eminently clear, Bloom's theory of influence presupposes that the war between precursor and ephebe poet is modelled after an Oedipal scenario which places the male writer at the centre of the drama of influence. Thus, for all its revisionist authority, this theory remains untouched by a major theoretical move of the last decades of the twentieth century, the emphasis on feminist criticism and the re-emergence of the centrality of women poets. As both poet and feminist theorist, Adrienne Rich has been a major force in encouraging women poets and readers to consider the consequences of an alternative female-authored tradition that speaks from a gendered subjectivity.

For Rich, the political and poetic projects are one. Describing the importance of a feminist, revisionary poetics, Rich remarks, 'Re-vision — the act of looking back, of seeing with fresh eyes, of entering an old text from a new critical direction — is for women more than a chapter in cultural history: it is an act of survival. Until we can understand the assumptions in which we are drenched we cannot know ourselves' (Rich, 1995, p. 35). Rich identifies a 'radical critique of literature' as more than a new understanding of the literary past; she advocates such a critique because it enables women to break free of the conventions of patriarchy. And yet Rich's poetry insists upon bodily presence, an eroticized, corporeal self that speaks of its desires in ways that we can strongly identify as deriving from the Romantic bodily self. In 'Twenty-One Love Poems' Rich captures the nuances of lesbian desire in a revisionist echo of the magisterial poems of the dominant tradition of male corporeal longing. In the 'Floating Poem, Unnumbered', Rich writes,

Whatever happens with us, your body will haunt mine — tender, delicate your lovemaking, like the half-curled frond of the fiddlehead fern in forests just washed by sun. Your traveled generous thighs between which my whole face has come and come —

the innocence and wisdom of the place my tongue has found there —

the live, insatiate dance of your nipples in my mouth —

your touch on me, firm, protective, searching me out, your strong tongue and slender fingers reaching where I had been waiting years for you in my rose-wet cave — whatever happens, this is.

This lyric with its explicit description of homoerotic love-making is at once a radical testimony to lesbian desire and a profoundly revisionist return to the poem of the impassioned 'self'. Elsewhere in Rich the poetic persona plays what I earlier termed a 'ventriloquized' role. One of the functions of speaking through and for a marginalized historical woman is to enter her subjectivity to release her hitherto silenced voice. Again immanence is of foremost importance as the poem conveys presence to what has long been denied. In a poem which takes as its subject the ambiguities associated with creativity, Rich speaks from the imagined consciousness of the chemist and physicist, Marie Curie:


Today I was reading about Marie Curie:

she must have known she suffered from radiation sickness her body bombarded for years by the element she had purified

She died a famous woman denying her wounds denying her wounds came from the same source as her power 1974

While ostensibly 'Power' expresses Curie's ambivalence towards acknowledging the self-destructive aspects of her quest to understand radioactivity, the poem closes with a more generalized characterization of the dangerous origins of power for the woman of imagination. This vatic close exemplifies the highly ambitious claims Rich makes in her poems as it speaks to the essentially conservative poetics that inform her politically and sexually radical project. Deeply influential, Rich combines theoretical boldness and a revisionist poetics to recuperate the imaginative legacy of women.

Rather than subscribe, as Rich does, to the centrality of a continuous, expressive representation of self, other contemporary poets respond to postmodern theories by decentring the self/subject. Marjorie Perloff, the foremost critic of LANGUAGE poetry, quotes from a group manifesto written by six poets associated with this movement. In 'Aesthetic Tendency and the Politics of Poetry' (1988), Ron Silliman, Carla Harryman, Lyn Hejinian, Steve Benson, Bob Perelman and Barrett Watten state that 'our work denies the centrality of the individual artist. . . . The self as the central and final term of creative practice is being challenged and exploded in our writing' (quoted by Marjorie Perloff in 'Language Poetry and the Lyric Subject', Critical Inquiry, 25: 3, spring 1999). Not only does this school of poets variously reconceptualize notions of selfhood in light of postmodernist theories of subjectivity; they call into question the representational function of language and thereby the nature of reality itself. Without a certainty that language refers to an authoritative, knowable reality outside the poem and experienced by the poet, the traditional relationship between a poem and the 'real' world is undermined. Instead, as Perloff notes, 'language constructs the "reality" perceived' (Perloff, 1996, p. 432). Freed from the burdens of an illusory referentiality and a unitary subjectivity, LANGUAGE poets experiment with linea-tion and aleatory (chance) linguistic phenomena. Interestingly, the overthrow of a traditionalist poetics, while, on the one hand, rejecting the notion of the singularity of the author, on the other hand, sets the stage for a reassertion of poetic presence through performance. In Close Listening: Poetry and the Performed Word Charles Bernstein (a LANGUAGE poet and theorist) comments on the contribution performance makes to a poem:

The poetry reading extends the patterning of poetry into another dimension, adding another semantic layer to the poem's multiformity. The effect is to create a space of authorial resistance to textual authority. For while writing is normally - if reductively and counterproductively - viewed as stabilizing and fixing oral poetic traditions, authorial poetry readings are best understood as destabilizing, by making more fluid and pluriform, an aural (post-written) poetic practice. And here the double sense of reading is acutely relevant. For in realizing, by supplementing, the semantic possibilities of the poem in a reading, the poet encourages readers to perform the poem on their own, a performance that is allowed greater latitude depending on how reading-centred the poem is - that is, how much the poem allows for the active participation of the reader (in both senses) in the constitution of the poem's meaning. (Bernstein, 1998, p. 10)

The improvisatory element in oral presentation is accompanied by linguistic experimentation, a process 'by which the instrumental function of language is diminished and the objective character of words foregrounded . . . language poetry regards its defamiliarizing strategies as a critique of the social basis of meaning, i.e. the degree to which signs are contextualized by use' (Rothenberg and Joris, 1998, p. 663). Thus, for the LANGUAGE poets, defamiliarization is a way not only to redefine the function of language and its relation to representation, but also a technique that offers a social commentary, that challenges the traditional notion of the unitary, expressive, poetic 'I'. Instead, LANGUAGE poetry proffers a socially contextualized, multiple site of meaning that invites the participation of the listener/reader.

Undecidability and the problematic aspects of the very act of representation come to the fore in much LANGUAGE poetry. Here, from his volume First Figure, is Michael Palmer's version of creating a poem by means of the epistemological uncertainties that might block expression:

The name is felt without letters how can this be. The cat then the ghost of the cat continually reappearing. A reading of an evening. Here the first figure, here the false figure of speech playing with a ring. Here once more the coffee and moth, damp bread in hunks, habits of afterwards and opposite. There are no steps leading to this. Not ours not theirs. A city of domes soon to be torn down. A sad monkey-house or the five random letters for the fingers of the hand. The story you've been looking for may well lie there. She steps from the shower and reaches for a towel. The story may well lie there in a cloud. Everyone knows these things by heart. Everyone tells these things from the heart.

The word is all that is displaced. This illness I stole from my father. A love of figures, tidiness, fear of error. There are the new remains. She shifted her position almost imperceptibly. He was reluctant to agree at first. They might have it otherwise, simpler perhaps, deducting shadow. The field itself is yellow, with the usual points of reference. Then evening with its blue coat, perfume jars, obstacles, machines held onto. It was quite a short pleasure. The police know all about it.

The status of referentiality is called into question even as fragmented images from the 'Real' appear. Without the tissue of explanation to make these images cohere, the reader is called upon to 'make sense', which in this context means to bring her/his syntax of meaning to the poem, to make it cohere. A shifting point of view is com-plicitous in conveying a sense of mystery (rather than authorial mastery). The reader, therefore, is drawn in, implicated in the construction of the poem as a vehicle for meaning.

While the LANGUAGE poets respond most immediately to postmodernist theories, other contemporary poets continue to engage longstanding philosophical questions through the poetic medium itself. Among the most distinguished of these poets is Jorie Graham, who incorporates philosophical discourse into poems that are acutely responsive to human feeling. Without sacrificing her subjectivity, Graham calls into question the very categories she invokes. In Materialism she interpellates passages from Sir Francis Bacon, Wittgenstein, Walter Benjamin, Brecht and Benjamin Whorf (as well as Dante, Audubon, McGuffey's New Fifth Reader, Whitman and Jonathan Edwards). The philosophical texts shadow the volume's neighbouring poems; emphasizing Graham's metaphysical and ontological interests. Most provocative in this regard are five poems with the same title, 'Notes on the Reality of Self', which simultaneously posit an immanent consciousness along with an acute sensibility and a sceptical, agnostic voice that self-reflexively questions the categories of space and time that the poem has invoked. The simultaneity of these two voices creates a deep inwardness that does not sacrifice sensory pleasures to philosophical investigations:

. . . How the invisible roils. I see it from here and then I see it from here. Is there a new way of looking -valences and little hooks - inevitabilities, probabilities? It flaps and slaps. Is this body the one I know as me? How private these words? And these?

The speaker not only questions her physical presence; she calls into question the status of the very language she is putting into currency. Time is a central issue throughout the volume, and here Graham conveys a sense of the uncanny as the speaker asks both her 'self' and the reader to assess the 'privacy' of the words in the poem. In the final 'And these?' the speaker holds up for question the very words that articulate her uncertainty. This is one of a number of occasions in Materialism when Graham asserts the immanent power of her language in much the way that Whitman does. Indeed, Graham quotes just such a Whitmanian moment when Whitman's speaker alludes to a secret shared with the reader but never explicitly articulated:

We understand, then, do we not?

What I promis'd without mentioning it, have you not accepted?

What the study could not teach - what the preaching could not accomplish, is accomplish'd, is it not?

What the push of reading could not start, is started by me personally, is it not?

(Whitman, 'Crossing Brooklyn Ferry', Graham, 1998, p. 108)

Whitman uses this linguistic ploy to insist upon his own authority; in Graham's work, however, the questions are open; they address the reader not through coercion but in a more egalitarian way as they posit a philosophical compact with the reader. Surely, Jorie Graham's work exemplifies the powerful, always unsettled amalgam of theory and poetry. She repeatedly returns to a broad spectrum of contemplative thinkers to complicate and enrich her poems, thus exemplifying the force theoretical speculation has for contemporary poets.

Casting our glances back over the twentieth century, we can see the enormous impact theory has had for poets, and the range of that influence. The subjects I discuss here exemplify the intensity of the theory—poetry connection. While, for some poets, theory has a largely descriptive usefulness, for others such as Jorie Graham, theory inhabits a poem, giving it a self-reflexive function that acts in uncanny, surprising ways. Certainly, the impact theory has had on the LANGUAGE poets is great. And in whatever guise, theory and poetry have conducted a powerful dialogue that has transformed the reading and the writing of poetry in this century. If a poem is a the-atricalization of the writer's world, then theory is a part of it, urging the poet to reexamine the premises of her work, to engage with questions of origin, voice and referentiality. Theory invites the poet to examine her assumptions, to question the very nature of her craft. Theory does not simply serve a descriptive or tutelary role; instead, in various ways it enters and may even transform the poem. In some of the strongest work produced at the turn of the millennium, poetry actively engages theory to create work that, while rich in its allusiveness, is wholly new.


Altieri, Charles (1979). Enlarging the Temple: New Directions in American Poetry During the 1960s. Lewisburg, Bucknell University Press.

Altieri, Charles (1984). Self and Sensibility in Contemporary American Poetry. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Bedient, Calvin (1974). Eight Contemporary Poets.

London: Oxford University Press. Benjamin, Jessica (1998). Like Subjects, Love Objects. New Haven, CT and London: Yale University Press.

Bernstein, Charles (1998). Close Listening. New

York: Oxford University Press. Bloom, Harold (1973). The Anxiety of Influence.

New York: Oxford University Press. Bove, Paul A. (ed.) (1995). Early Postmodernism: Foundational Essays. Durham, NC and London: Duke University Press. Breslin, James (1983). From Modern to Contemporary: American Poetry, 1945-1965. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.

Corcoran, Neil (1993). English Poetry Since 1940. London and New York: Longman.

Day, Gary and Brian Docherty (1995). British Poetry, 1900-1950: Aspects of Tradition. New York: St Martin's Press.

Eagleton, Terry (1996). Literary Theory: An Introduction, 2nd edn. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Easthope, Anthony (1983). Poetry as Discourse. London and New York: Methuen.

Eliot, T. S. (1957). On Poetry and Poets. New York: Farrar, Straus and Cudahy.

Elliott, Emory (ed.) (1988). Columbia Literary History of the United States. New York: Columbia University Press.

Gioia, Dana (1992). Can Poetry Matter?: Essays on Poetry and American Culture. Saint Paul, MN: Graywolf Press.

Glük, Louise (1995). Proofs and Theories. New York: Ecco.

Graham, Jorie (1998). Materialism. New York: Ecco.

Hassan, Ihab (1987). The Postmodern Turn: Essays in Postmodern Theory and Culture. Ohio: Ohio State University Press.

Lyotard, Jean-Franois (1984). The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

O'Sullivan, Maggie (1996). Out of Everywhere: Linguistically Innovative Poetry by Women in North America and the UK. London: Reality Street Editions.

Perkins, David (1987). A History of Modern Poetry: Modernism and After. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

Perloff, Marjorie (1996). Wittgenstein's Ladder: Poetic Language and the Strangeness of the Ordinary. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Perloff, Marjorie (1999). 'Language Poetry and the Lyric Subject: Ron Silliman's Albany, Susan Howe's Buffalo.' Critical Inquiry, 25: 3, spring.

Pinsky, Robert (1976). The Situation of Poetry: Contemporary Poetry and Its Traditions. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Pinsky, Robert (1999): The Sounds of Poetry: A Brief Guide. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

Rich, Adrienne (1995). On Lies, Secrets and Silence. New York: Norton.

Rothenberg, Jerome and Pierre Joris (1998). Poems for the Millennium, Vol. 2. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.

Selden, Raman and Peter Widdowson (1993). A Reader's Guide to Contemporary Literary Theory, 3rd edn. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky.

Silliman, Ron, et al. (1988). 'Aesthetic Tendency and the Politics of Poetry: A Manifesto.' Social Text, 19-20, fall.

Vendler, Helen (1980). Part of Nature, Part of Us: Modern American Poets: Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press.

Von Hallberg, Robert (1985). American Poetry and Culture: 1945-1980. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment