Lyric Interventions explores linguistically innovative poetry by contemporary women in North America and Britain whose experiments give rise to fresh feminist readings of the lyric subject. The works discussed by Linda Kinnahan explore the lyric subject in relation to the social: an “I” as a product of social discourse and as a conduit for change.
Contributing to discussions of language-oriented poetries through its focus on women writers and feminist perspectives, this study of lyric experimentation brings attention to the cultural contexts of nation, gender, and race as they significantly shift the terms by which the “experimental” is produced, defined, and understood.
This study focuses upon lyric intervention in distinct but related spheres as they link public and ideological norms of identity. Firstly, lyric innovations with visual and spatial realms of cultural practice and meaning, particularly as they naturalize ideologies of gender and race in North America and the post-colonial legacies of the Caribbean, are investigated in the works of Barbara Guest, Kathleen Fraser, Erica Hunt, and M. Nourbese Philip. Secondly, experimental engagements with nationalist rhetorics of identity, marking the works of Carol Ann Duffy, Denise Riley, Wendy Mulford, and Geraldine Monk, are explored in relation to contemporary evocations of “self” in Britain. And thirdly, in discussions of all of the poets, but particularly accenuated in regard to Guest, Fraser, Riley, Mulford, and Monk, formal experimentation with the lyric “I” is considered through gendered encounters with critical and avant-garde discourses of poetics.
Throughout the study, Kinnahan seeks to illuminate and challenge the ways in which visual and verbal constructs function to make “readable” the subjectivities historically supporting white, male-centered power within the worlds of art, poetry, social locations, or national policy. The potential of the feminist, innovative lyric to generate linguistic surprise simultaneously with engaging risky strategies of social intervention lends force and significance to the public engagement of such poetic experimentation.
This fresh, energetic study will be of great interest to literary critics and womens studies scholars, as well as poets on both sides of the Atlantic.
Robert von Hallberg University of Chicago Press, 2008 Library of Congress PN1356.V66 2008 | Dewey Decimal 809.14
The authority of poetry varies from one period to another, from one culture to another. For Robert von Hallberg, the authority of lyric poetry has three sources: religious affirmation, the social institutions of those who speak the idioms from which particular poems are made, and the extraordinary cognition generated by the formal and musical resources of poems. Lyric Powers helps students, poets, and general readers to recognize the pleasures and understand the ambitions of lyric poetry.
To explain why a reader might prefer one kind of poem to another, von Hallberg analyzes—beyond the political and intellectual significance of poems—the musicality of both lyric poetry and popular song, including that of Tin Pan Alley and doo-wop. He shows that poets have distinctive intellectual resources—not just rhetorical resources—for examining their subjects, and that the power of poetic language to generalize, not particularize, is what justly deserves a critic’s attention.
The first book in more than a decade from this respected critic, Lyric Powers will be celebrated as a genuine event by readers of poetry and literary criticism.
Drawing on the poetry of four major voices in the Spanish lyric of today, Judith Nantell explores the epistemic works of Luis Muñoz, Abraham Gragera, Josep M. Rodríguez, and Ada Salas, arguing that, for them, the poem is the fundamental means of exploring the nature of both knowledge and poetry. In this first interpretive analysis of the epistemic nature of their poetry, Nantell innovatively engages these poets, each of whom has contributed one of their own poems along with a previously unpublished explication of their chosen poem. Each also provides an original biographical sketch to support Nantell’s development of a poetics of epiphany.
Published by Bucknell University Press. Distributed worldwide by Rutgers University Press.
For more than half a century, Chinese-Western comparative literature has been recognized as a formal academic discipline, but critics and scholars in the field have done little to develop a viable, common basis for comparison between these disparate literatures. In this pioneering book, Cecile Chu-chin Sun establishes repetition as the ideal perspective from which to compare the poetry and poetics from these two traditions.
Sun contends that repetition is at the heart of all that defines the lyric as a unique art form and, by closely examining its use in Chinese and Western poetry, she demonstrates howone can identify important points of convergence and divergence. Through a representative sampling of poems from both traditions, she illustrates how the irreducible generic nature of the lyric transcends linguistic and cultural barriers but also reveals the fundamental distinctions between the traditions. Most crucially, she dissects the two radically different conceptualizations of reality—mimesis and xing—that serve as underlying principles for the poetic practices of each tradition.
Skillfully integrating theory and practice, The Poetics of Repetition in English and Chinese Lyric Poetryprovides a much-needed model for future study of Chinese and English poetry as well as lucid, succinct interpretations of individual poems.
What is the role of the senses in the creation and reception of poetry? How does poetry carry on the long tradition of making experience and suffering understood by others? With Poetry and the Fate of the Senses, Susan Stewart traces the path of the aesthetic in search of an explanation for the role of poetry in our culture. The task of poetry, she tells us, is to counter the loneliness of the mind, or to help it glean, out of the darkness of solitude, the outline of others. Poetry, she contends, makes tangible, visible, and audible the contours of our shared humanity. It sustains and transforms the threshold between individual and social existence.
Herself an acclaimed poet, Stewart not only brings the intelligence of a critic to the question of poetry, but the insight of a practitioner as well. Her new study draws on reading from the ancient Greeks to the postmoderns to explain how poetry creates meanings between persons. Poetry and the Fate of the Senses includes close discussions of poems by Stevens, Hopkins, Keats, Hardy, Bishop, and Traherne, of the sense of vertigo in Baroque and Romantic works, and of the rich tradition of nocturnes in visual, musical, and verbal art. Ultimately, Stewart explores the pivotal role of poetry in contemporary culture. She argues that poetry can counter the denigration of the senses and can expand our imagination of the range of human expression.
Poetry and the Fate of the Senses won the 2004 Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism in Memory of Newton Arvin, administered for the Truman Capote Estate by the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. It also won the Phi Beta Kappa Society's 2002 Christian Gauss Award for Literary Criticism.
The Power of Genre
Adena Rosmarin University of Minnesota Press, 1986 Library of Congress PN45.5.R67 1985 | Dewey Decimal 801.951
The Power of Genre was first published in 1986. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
The Power of Genre is a radical and systematic rethinking of the relationship between literary genre and critical explanation. Adene Rosmarin shows how traditional theories of genre—whether called "historical," "intrinsic," or "theoretical"—are necessarily undone by their attempts to define genre representationally. Rather, Rosmarin argues, the opening premise of critical argument is always critical purpose or, as E. H. Gombrich has said, function, and the genre or "form" follows the reform. The goal is a relational model that works.
Rosemarin analyzes existing theories of genre — those of Hirsch, Crane, Frye, Todorov, Jauss, and Rader are given particular attention—before proposing her own. These analyses uncover the illogic that plagues even sophisticated attempts to treat genre as a preexistent entity. Rosmarin shows how defining genre pragmatically – as explicitly chosen or devised to serve explicitly critical purposes – solves this problem: a pragmatic theory of genre builds analysis of its metaphors and motives into its program, thereby eliminating theory's traditional need to deny the invented and rhetorical nature of its schemes. A pragmatic theory, however, must be tested not only by its internal cohesion but also by its power to enable practice, and Rosmarin chooses the dramatic monologue, an infamously problematic genre, and its recent relative, the mask lyric, as testing grounds. Both genres—variously exemplified by poems of Browning, Thennyson, Eliot, and Pound—are ex post facto critical constructs that, when defined as such, make closely reasoned sense not only of particular poems but also of their perplexed interpretive histories. Moreover, both genres dwell on the historicity, textuality, and redemptive imperfection of the speaking self. This generic obsession ties the poems to their reception and, finally, to the openended, processes of hermeneutic question-and-answer stressed in Rosmarin's framing theory.
Today we usually think of a book of poems as composed by a poet, rather than assembled or adapted by a network of poets and readers. But the earliest European vernacular poetries challenge these assumptions. Medieval songbooks remind us how lyric poetry was once communally produced and received—a collaboration of artists, performers, live audiences, and readers stretching across languages and societies.
The only comparative study of its kind, Songbook treats what poetry was before the emergence of the modern category “poetry”: that is, how vernacular songbooks of the thirteenth to fifteenth centuries shaped our modern understanding of poetry by establishing expectations of what is a poem, what is a poet, and what is lyric poetry itself. Marisa Galvez analyzes the seminal songbooks representing the vernacular traditions of Occitan, Middle High German, and Castilian, and tracks the process by which the songbook emerged from the original performance contexts of oral publication, into a medium for preservation, and, finally, into an established literary object. Galvez reveals that songbooks—in ways that resonate with our modern practice of curated archives and playlists—contain lyric, music, images, and other nonlyric texts selected and ordered to reflect the local values and preferences of their readers. At a time when medievalists are reassessing the historical foundations of their field and especially the national literary canons established in the nineteenth century, a new examination of the songbook’s role in several vernacular traditions is more relevant than ever.
Ten years after publishing his first collection of lyric poetry, Odes I-III, Horace (65 B.C.-8 B.C.) returned to lyric and published another book of fifteen odes, Odes IV. These later lyrics, which praise Augustus, the imperial family, and other political insiders, have often been treated more as propaganda than art. But in A Symposion of Praise, Timothy Johnson examines the richly textured ambiguities of Odes IV that engage the audience in the communal or "sympotic" formulation of Horace's praise. Surpassing propaganda, Odes IV reflects the finely nuanced and imaginative poetry of Callimachus rather than the traditions of Aristotelian and Ciceronian rhetoric, which advise that praise should present commonly admitted virtues and vices. In this way, Johnson demonstrates that Horace's application of competing perspectives establishes him as Pindar's rival.
Johnson shows the Horatian panegyrist is more than a dependent poet representing only the desires of his patrons. The poet forges the panegyric agenda, setting out the character of the praise (its mode, lyric, and content both positive and negative), and calls together a community to join in the creation and adaptation of Roman identities and civic ideologies. With this insightful reading, A Symposion of Praise will be of interest to historians of the Augustan period and its literature, and to scholars interested in the dynamics between personal expression and political power.
Theory of the Lyric
Jonathan Culler Harvard University Press, 2015 Library of Congress PN1356.C845 2015 | Dewey Decimal 809.14
What sort of thing is a lyric poem? An intense expression of subjective experience? The fictive speech of a specifiable persona? Examining ancient and modern poems from Sappho to Ashbery, Jonathan Culler reveals the limitations of these two models—the Romantic and the modern—and challenges the assumption that poems exist to be interpreted.
Peter Balakian is a renowned poet, scholar, and memoirist; but his work as an essayist often prefigures and illuminates all three. "I think of vise and shadow as two dimensions of the lyric (literary and visual) imagination," he writes in the preface to this collection, which brings together essayistic writings produced over the course of twenty-five years. Vise, "as in grabbing and holding with pressure," but also in the sense of the vise-grip of the imagination, which can yield both clarity and knowledge. Consider the vise-grip of some of the poems of our best lyric poets, how language might be put under pressure "as carbon might be put under pressure to create a diamond." And shadow, the second half of the title: both as noun, "the shaded or darker portion of the picture or view or perspective," "partial illumination and partial darkness"; and as verb, to shadow, "to trail secretly as an inseparable companion" or a "force that follows something with fidelity; to cast a dark light on something—a person, an event, an object, a form in nature."
Vise and Shadow draws into conversation such disparate figures as W. B. Yeats, Hart Crane, Joan Didion, Primo Levi, Robert Rauschenberg, Bob Dylan, Elia Kazan, and Arshile Gorky, revealing how the lyric imagination of these artists grips experience, "shadows history," and "casts its own type of illumination," creating one of the deepest kinds of human knowledge and sober truth. In these elegantly written essays, Balakian offers a fresh way to think about the power of poetry, art, and the lyrical imagination as well as history, trauma, and memory.
Why Lyrics Last
Brian Boyd Harvard University Press, 2012 Library of Congress PR2848.B68 2012 | Dewey Decimal 821.3
Why Lyrics Last turns an evolutionary lens on lyric verse, placing the writing of verse within the human disposition to play with pattern. Boyd takes as an extended example the many patterns to be found within Shakespeare’s Sonnets. There, the Bard avoids all narrative and demonstrates the power that verse can have when liberated of story.