Download Lyric Shame: The "Lyric" Subject of Contemporary American by Gillian White PDF

By Gillian White

Bringing a provocative point of view to the poetry wars that experience divided practitioners and critics for many years, Gillian White argues that the pointy disagreements surrounding modern poetics were formed by means of “lyric shame”―an unstated yet pervasive embarrassment over what poetry is, will be, and fails to be.

Favored fairly via glossy American poets, lyric poetry has lengthy been thought of an expression of the writer’s innermost strategies and emotions. yet by means of the Seventies the “lyric I” had turn into persona non grata in literary circles. Poets and critics accused each other of “identifying” with lyric, which more and more bore the stigma of egotism and political backwardness. In shut readings of Elizabeth Bishop, Anne Sexton, Bernadette Mayer, James Tate, and others, White examines the social and important dynamics through which definite poems turn into pointed out as “lyric,” arguing that the time period refers much less to a selected literary style than to an summary approach of projecting subjectivity onto poems. Arguments approximately no matter if lyric poetry is deserving of compliment or censure circle round what White calls “the lacking lyric object”: an idealized poem that's nowhere and but all over, and that is the made from examining practices that either the advocates and detractors of lyric impose on poems. Drawing on present traits in either have an effect on and lyric thought, Lyric Shame unsettles the assumptions that tell a lot modern poetry feedback and explains why the emotional, confessional expressivity attributed to American lyric has develop into so controversial.

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Extra resources for Lyric Shame: The "Lyric" Subject of Contemporary American Poetry

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Tired modes” (Dana Levin); “personality” and “impersonality” (Geoffrey G. O’Brien, Joshua Corey, Stephen Burt); or, perhaps most revealing, the prohibitions against narrative “closure” and expression in the dominant contemporary lyric culture (Richard Tayson). ” One consequence of this shame is how it perpetuates the tensions that created it: in the process of writing this book, I have found myself distracted by, and inexorably drawn into, rehearsals of what I risk reducing to “the Language critique” of lyric.

Even when most disavowed, the idea of a lyric subject reasserts itself as readings of “backward” “personal” lyrics that shore up a definition of avantgarde impersonality as progress. Lyric readings that privilege one interpretive destiny get confused with abstractions such as Victorian poetics, the Romantic or post-Romantic lyric, as “personal” poetry, the Confessional, or the “voice” poem. It is as if something once a pleasure—the illusion of writing’s person—had returned, now in the guise of shame.

Indeed, her work can help to articulate the shifting roles that shame has played in critical attempts to make sense of revolutions of taste and shifting understandings about poetry’s function in the midcentury. Turning to a reading of her late 1930s and early 1940s responses to the ethical poetics of William Carlos Williams (in such “known” poems as “Florida” and in a little-known fragmentary essay), I consider how deeply influenced she was by early modernist avant-garde concerns about the forms of subjectivity that “traditional” lyric principles were held to endorse.

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