Literary reviews by Tim Love.
Warning: Rather than reviews, these are often notes in preparation for reviews that were never finished, or pleas for help with understanding pieces. See Litref Reviews - a rationale for details.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

"The Resurgence of Traditional Poetic Form and the Current Status of Poetry's Place in American Culture" by Kevin Walzer (The Edwin Mellen Press, 2001

First he describes attempts to rebuild the theoretical foundations of Formalist poetry (described by Griffin as "constructive postmodernism" and including Turner's "natural classicism", collecting ideas from philosophers, critics, and theologians, using chaos theory, brain science and evolution). Formalism is characterized as dynamic and natural. Then he points out that "free verse is not the only formal legacy of modernism ... modernism was also a period of great experimentation and revision of traditional forms" (p.39), citing Stevens in particular.

He champions Carruth ("no significant poet since 1950 has written as well in such a broad range of modes ... His sheer range has likely contributed to his relative neglect by critics, as he does not easily fit into any of the major schools or movements" (p.74) and Bugeja (Writer's Digest columnist), and also wonders why Judson Jerome (also a Writer's Digest columnist) and Sam Hamill are underestimated (clues are that they were (or became) non-academic, and they used forms). He looks at some factors accounting for the rise of Rita Dove.

He considers Vendler's role as critic, and compares her with Bawer, Haines and Carruth.

Using D.G. Myers' "The Elephants teach: Creative Writing Since 1880" and Rasula's "The American Poetry Wax Museum: Reality Effects, 1940-1990" he looks at the effect of Universities on poetry. "The New Criticism was the standard pedagogical tool in studying poetry (as literature) for three decades and was highly influential in making the study of contemporary poetry academically respectable. That respectability in turn was crucial in making possible the establishment of creative writing programs" (p.89) but "the university's concerns are narrower than those of poetry ... How can poetry maintain the communal aims essential for it ...?" (p.100).

It's not a long book, and there are several summarising sections, so there aren't that many new ideas.

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