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A Companion to Twentieth-Century Poetry

ISBN: 978-1-4051-1361-8
646 pages
February 2003, Wiley-Blackwell
A Companion to Twentieth-Century Poetry (1405113618) cover image


In the twentieth century more people spoke English and more people wrote poetry than in the whole of previous history, and this Companion strives to make sense of this crowded poetical era. The original contributions by leading international scholars and practising poets were written as the contributors adjusted to the idea that the possibilities of twentieth-century poetry were exhausted and finite. However, the volume also looks forward to the poetry and readings that the new century will bring.

The Companion embraces the extraordinary development of poetry over the century in twenty English-speaking countries; a century which began with a bipolar transatlantic connection in modernism and ended with the decentred heterogeneity of post-colonialism. Representation of the 'canonical' and the 'marginal' is therefore balanced, including the full integration of women poets and feminist approaches and the in-depth treatment of post-colonial poets from various national traditions. Discussion of context, intertextualities and formal approaches illustrates the increasing self-consciousness and self-reflexivity of the period, whilst a 'Readings' section offers new readings of key selected texts. The volume as a whole offers critical and contextual coverage of the full range of English-language poetry in the last century.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements ix

Notes on Contributors xi

Introduction 1
Neil Roberts

PART I Topics and Debates

1 Modernism and the Transatlantic Connection 7
Hugh Witemeyer

2 Modernist Poetry and its Precursors 21
Peter Brooker and Simon Perril

3 The Non-modernist Modern 37
David Goldie

4 Poetry and Politics 51
Reed Way Dasenbrock

5 Poetry and War 64
Matthew Campbell

6 Poetry and Science 76
Tim Armstrong

7 Poetry and Literary Theory 89
Joanne Feit Diehl

8 Poetry and Gender 101
Edward Larrissy

9 Interrupted Monologue: Alternative Poets of the Mid-century 113
Philip Hobsbaum

PART II Poetic Movements

10 Imagism 127
Jacob Korg

11 The New Negro Renaissance 138
William W. Cook

12 Poetry and the New Criticism 153
Stephen Burt and Jennifer Lewin

13 Black Mountain and Projective Verse 168
John Osborne

14 The Beats 183
John Osborne

15 Confessionalism 197
Lucy Collins

16 The Movement 209
Stephen Regan

17 Language Poetry 220
Simon Perril

PART III International and Postcolonial Poetry in English

18 West Indian Poetry 235
Victor Chang

19 African Poetry 249
Kwadwo Osei-Nyame

20 Poetry of the Indian Subcontinent 264
Vinay Dharwadker

21 Australian Poetry 281
Livio Dobrez

22 New Zealand Poetry 293
Terry Sturm

23 Canadian Poetry 304
Cynthia Messenger

24 Scottish Poetry 318
Jeffrey Skoblow

25 Welsh Poetry 329
Douglas Houston

26 Irish Poetry to 1966 343
Alex Davis

PART IV Readings

27 Thomas Hardy: Poems of 1912–13 359
Tim Armstrong

28 Robert Frost: North of Boston 369
Alex Calder

29 T. S. Eliot: The Waste Land 381
John Haffenden

30 D. H. Lawrence: Birds, Beasts and Flowers 392
David Ellis

31 William Carlos Williams: Spring and All 403
Lisa M. Steinman

32 Wallace Stevens: Harmonium 414
Philip Hobsbaum

33 Marianne Moore: Observations 427
Elizabeth Wilson

34 W. B. Yeats: The Tower 437
Terence Brown

35 W. H. Auden: Poems 448
Peter McDonald

36 Elizabeth Bishop: North & South 457
Jonathan Ellis

37 Ezra Pound: The Pisan Cantos 469
A. David Moody

38 Robert Lowell: Life Studies 481
Stephen Matterson

39 Louis MacNeice: The Burning Perch 491
Peter McDonald

40 Sylvia Plath: Ariel 500
Sue Vice

41 Ted Hughes: Crow 513
Rand Brandes

42 Seamus Heaney: North 524
Bernard O’Donoghue

43 John Ashbery: Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror 536
David Herd

44 Derek Walcott: Omeros 547
Bruce Woodcock

PART V The Contemporary Scene

45 Contemporary American Poetry 559
Roger Gilbert

46 Contemporary British Poetry 571
Sean O’Brien

47 Contemporary Irish Poetry 585
Lucy Collins

48 Contemporary Postcolonial Poetry 596
Jahan Ramazani

Index 610

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Author Information

Neil Roberts is Professor of English Literature at Sheffield University. He has been a visiting professor at the University of New Mexico and also Chuo University in Japan. His publications on a wide range of contemporary poets, as well as on George Meredith and D.H Lawrence and Bakhtin, include Narrative and Voice in Postwar Poetry (1999).
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"Roberts has brought together an extraordinary collection of 48 engagingly written and informative essays. This reviewer is aware of no other volume covering the full range of English-language poetry in the twentieth century. Recommended for all collections, this title will be a welcome reference and guide for undergraduate students and useful for specialists."
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