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Poets and Audiences: The Evolution of Poetry in America
(Released July 2012)

  by Beth Dwoskin  


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  1. PERFORMING CRITICISM: How Digital Audio Can Help Students Learn (and Teach) Poetry

    Christopher Phillips.

    Transformations, Vol. 22, No. 1, Spring 2011, pp. 53-68,145.

    Renker says nothing about the place of recitation or aural reading in the institutions she studies; Graff briefly discusses the recitation method and gives the impression in a single paragraph that recitations had been chased out of college classrooms by the upstart lecture method by the time of the Civil War (32).1 While a number of valuable studies of the history of aural pedagogies have been published in recent years (Robson; Rubin; Sorby, Schoolroom), they focus on pre-collegiate education and public spaces such as Independence Day celebrations. Selfe traces the history of how "writing" and "rhetoric" were separated as teaching and research subjects in the late nineteenth century, as the earlier collegiate emphasis on oratory became associated with bad-faith posturing, and the professionalization of the disciplines increasingly favored print-the read paper, the published article, the textbook read out of class-as its primary vehicle for self-legitimization.

  2. Can Poetry Matter?

    Margaret Randall.

    World Literature Today, Vol. 84, No. 2, Mar/Apr 2010, pp. 20-22.

    Poems have been smuggled out of prisons, shared on battlefields, passed from hand to hand and generation to generation, scratched on walls, written in diaries and recipe books, distributed on street corners, and carried cross-county by hobos riding the freight trains of the 1930s. When I began doing oral history, especially with women, I too came to understand how vital local jargon, cadence, and inflection can be to the transmission of living ideas; and I began to incorporate ordinary people's speech patterns into my verse. [...] we ignore or write off its unquantifiable, intuitive, magical qualities at our peril-especially in times of crisis.

  3. Cin(E)-Poetry: Engaging the Digital Generation in 21st-Century Response

    Denise H. Stuart and Nancy Frey.

    Voices From the Middle, Vol. 17, No. 3, Mar 2010, pp. 27-35.

    Rather than the close and concise analysis of text itself being central to a reading, reader response (which stems from transactional theory) encourages students' engagement with text and, as Rosenblatt describes in her seminal work (1938/1995), reading and responding to literature become an engaging "event": The special meanings, and more particularly, the submerged associations that these words and images have for the individual reader will largely determine what the work communicates to him. The process described in this article supported learning and engagement throughout: in reading many poems, in digital inquiry about the new genre of Cin(E)-poetry, in the use of planning software for storyboards, and, ultimately, in the powerful multimedia of movie making, in which students put into visual form their interpretation of self-selected poems.

  4. Demand My Voice: Hearing God in Eighteenth-Century American Poetry

    Wendy Raphael Roberts.

    Early American Literature, Vol. 45, No. 1, 2010, pp. 119-144,209-210.

    Poetry, an oral and a textual space dependent upon and emphasizing sound, will serve as a test case in this essay for exercising alternative approaches to early American literature and religion. Because eighteenthcentury poetry was so intimately tied to oratory and sound, Evangelical poetry of the period occupies a crucial axis-where print, aurality, and religion meet-for reexamining these narratives. [...] in such narratives, Puritan declension functions metonymically (and problematically) for all American religion.6 Or, if one prefers to use the religious scholar Talal Asad's nomenclature, such stories unfold one of many triumphalist histor[ies] of the secular (25).\n As early Americanists work with a more representative literary archive, the methodologies for interpreting the texts will likely include more attention to sound.

  5. The Migration of the Muses: Translation and the Origins of American Poetry

    Joanne van der Woude.

    Early American Literature, Vol. 45, No. 3, 2010, pp. 499-532,742.

    With regard to the Anglo-American canon, Bradstreet's classical- Christian style and Edward Taylor's antique types clearly connect New England Puritanism to the colonial poetics discussed. [...] Phillis Wheatley's translations of Ovid, coupled with the omnipresence of Ciceronian rhetoric in Revolutionary pamphlets, show the ongoing influence of the classics on American literary development.

  6. Voicing American Poetry: Sound and Performance from the 1920s to the Present

    Barry Parsons.

    Modernism/Modernity, Vol. 16, No. 4, Nov 2009, pp. 833-835.

    [...] by allowing "voice" such a wide possible signification, she is in danger of making the word do too much work, particularly in the chapter on Langston Hughes, which is largely concerned with elaborating Hughes's experiments with a Dada-influenced expressive use of typography in the 1930s. Besides a couple of minor slips-Eric Griffiths's The Printed Voice of Victorian Poetry (1989) crosses the Atlantic to become The Printed Voice of American Poetry, and the poet Anselm Hollo is renamed Anselm Holland-this is a well-produced volume.

  7. American Poets in the 21st Century: The New Poetics

    Bernard F. Dick.

    World Literature Today, Vol. 82, No. 2, Mar/Apr 2008, pp. 71-72.

    To Levine, nature has a Wordsworthian aura that he brings into the present through details that may seem unpoetic (e.g., benches, bottle caps, carved initials) yet, through his personal alchemy, are transformed into art. Kevin Young uses short, staccato rhythms and the attenuated line-a sort of terza rima-to replicate the blues and comment on the heartbreak and disillusionment that are at the heart of the music.

  8. American Elegy: The Poetry of Mourning from the Puritans to Whitman

    Russ Castronovo.

    Eighteenth – Century Studies, Vol. 41, No. 1, Fall 2007, pp. 123-124.

    In between, there is fascinating material that emerges courtesy of Cavitch's archival work in unearthing a corpus of African American elegy that stretches from Phillis Wheatley's memorial of George Whitefield to George Moses Horton's poems on Mary Todd Lincoln's inconsolable grief. Yet, the tradition that Cavitch establishes is helpfully neither smooth nor seamless: pieces such as Abraham Lincoln's "The Suicide Soliloquy" (a poem submitted to an Illinois newspaper when the future president was not yet thirty years old) as well as the vicarious anguish that white antislavery poets imagined for fictional slave suicides interrupt the collected oeuvre of African American elegy.

  9. Canadian Cowboy Poetry and the Oral Tradition

    Ken Mitchell.

    Canadian Theatre Review, Vol. 130, Spring 2007, pp. 83-88.

    Mitchell discusses cowboy poetry performance, highlighting its history, the debate over its aesthetic, and poets in the Canadian and American West. He touches on the renaissance of cowboy poetry sparked by the first Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada, in 1985.

  10. The "Infantilization" of American Poetry

    Richard Flynn.

    Children's Literature, Vol. 34, 2006, pp. 222-226,265.

    In a remarkable analysis of the poem's use in the curriculum of the Hampton Institute, Sorby shows that while the poem might have been primarily understood as upholding "New England hegemony" and a nostalgic "nationalism []and normative whiteness" (66), it may also, in the words of a Hampton lesson plan, have been used to promote an ideal rooted in a romantic and potentially progressive vision of "'the joys of childhood in the country and the beauty of love before which all are equal'" (67). At the conclusion of chapter six, "Emily Dickinson and the Form of Childhood," Sorby writes, "When I began this book, I expected my final chapter on Dickinson to show her forging a path to the twentieth century, at which point old-fashioned schoolroom poetry would be rendered obsolete by modernism" (187).

  11. Schoolroom Poets: Childhood, Performance, and the Place of American Poetry, 1865-1917

    Gary D. Schmidt.

    The Lion and the Unicorn, Vol. 30, No. 3, Sep 2006, pp. 410-413.

    Through the effects of their repetition in McGuffey's Readers, through publication in culturally affirmed children's journals such as Mary Mapes Dodge's St. Nicholas, and through school performances and social recitals, the work of the "Schoolroom Poets" became binding cultural ties that linked American culture in a great web of acknowledgement and familiarity.

  12. Best Practices: Pass the Poetry

    Mary Ellen Bafumo.

    Teaching Pre K-8, Vol. 35, No. 7, Apr 2005, pp. 8-9.

    Sharing poetry with your students will lead to a lifetime benefit of appreciating the written word If you're an early riser and listen to public radio, you've probably heard Garrison Keillor, the host of "Prairie Home Companion," sharing a reading from the latest edition of "Pretty Good Poems." Each poem invariably evokes a reaction; whether it's a laugh, a smile, a grimace or moments of thought. Starting the day listening to a bit of poetry is a treat, so why not start every school day with poetry? Your students will benefit by acquiring an acquaintance with, if not a lifelong love of, poetry. Savvy teachers can invite students to share their own favorite poems with the class. So, you must be wondering where teachers get the time to do something enriching and enjoyable that isn't assessed, assigned or otherwise evaluated, right? The answer is at breakfast, lunch and after school.

  13. Death to the Death of Poetry! The Art Is Alive and Kicking in Mormon Circles-and in Mainstream American Culture

    Lisa M. de Rubilar.

    Dialogue : A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol. 38, No. 1, Spring 2005, pp. 187-193.

    De Rubilar responds to Robert Hughes' essay, Poetry Matters in Mormon Culture. As a poetry lover, she shares Hughes' dismay that the role of poetry in the Church has diminished and concur that the general population--not only those with academic degrees—should feel empowered to write poetry. Nevertheless, she found Hughes's essay puzzling in a number ways and rebut several of his conclusions. She concludes that artistically, poetry is as strong and vibrant as ever, both in Mormon circles and in mainstream American culture.

  14. Schoolroom Poets: Childhood, Performance, and the Place of American Poetry, 1865-1917

    Joseph T. Thomas Jr.

    Children's Literature Association Quarterly, Vol. 30, No. 4, Winter 2005, pp. 443-447.

    Recalling that nineteenth-century poetry is usually ignored by contemporary critics because it is seen as "a literary-historical dead end," failing as it does to inform modern and postmodern poetry (as modernism is often seen as a break from the features dominant in the nineteenth century) (xxvi), Sorby offers us a new way of reading nineteenth-century poetry, one that concentrates on its performative possibilities. Much like the Whittier farmhouse itself, a popular visiting place after the colonial revival of the 187Os, the poem becomes a museum that, in LowelTs words, "describ[ed] scenes and manners which the rapid changes in our national habits will soon have made as remote from us as if they were foreign or ancient" (37).

  15. A Comment on the State of the Art: Poetry in 2004

    Jeanne Murray Walker.

    Christianity & Literature, Vol. 54, No. 1, Autumn 2004, pp. 93-110,153.

    Walker reviews four books: Philokalia: New and Selected Poems by Scott Cairns, Water Lines by Luci Shaw, The Man Who Loves Cezanne by Dabney Stuart, and The Poetry of Rowan Williams by Rowan Williams.

  16. Poetry and the Internet

    Albert B. Somers.

    English Journal, 2000, pp. 40.

    Any effort to describe the presence of poetry or any other topic on the sprawling Internet is rife with risk. The moment the ink dries-or the cursor blinks off-the news is old. Still, with almost every American school already online a book like this can hardly keep its head in the sand. By now there's no need to explain what the Internet is. Even those who haven't jumped on board are well aware of its presence. We've all seen the cover stories in Time and Newsweek and the shelves of books in every library and bookstore (The Internet for Dummies, et al.). The yellow pages of even midsize city phone directories now have multiple listings under "Internet Services" (mine has twenty-nine). Web site addresses abound, and "www dot whatever dot com" has become one of the mantras of our age. But surely poetry, some might wanly hope-this purest and gentlest of genres with its flashes of imagination and subtle layers of meaning-surely poetry has remained impervious to cyberspace. Not so. The Internet offers students and teachers of poetry a wealth of resources, among them files of information about poetry and poets, texts of poems (for the most part the classics, whose copyrights long ago expired, or the poems of "Wordsworth wannabes" anxious to offer their work online), and discussion groups of poets, teachers, and sometimes just readers and admirers of poetry. Even lesson plans for teaching poetry are available.

  17. Poetry and the media: The decline of popular poetry

    John Spaulding.

    Journal of Popular Culture, Vol. 33, No. 2, Fall 1999, pp. 147-153.

    The media do not simply reflect the direction and taste of popular culture, they create it and form it as well. And just as they made a decision to abandon poetry, they could make a decision to embrace it again. There may or may not be a popular audience for poetry now, but there certainly cannot be one if the public is not exposed to it.

  18. Poetry, pedagogy, and popular music: Renegade reflections

    David R. Pichaske.

    Popular Music and Society, Vol. 23, No. 4, Winter 1999, pp. 83-103.

    The real question is not whether rock can be used with, in lieu of or as a vehicle into printed poetry, but whether literary criticism serves the appreciation of song. No one wants to see rock led by English Department theoreticians into a quagmire of jargon and abstraction, but the threat is real, since musical and visual texts sustain such analysis quite as well as a printed text.

  19. Remapping the poetic landscape: Privileging marginal voices in recent texts on American poetry

    Australia Tarver.

    College Literature, Vol. 26, No. 3, Fall 1999, pp. 261-268.

    Tarver reviews several books, including "Nineteenth Century American Women Poets, An Anthology" by Paula B. Bennett, "She Wields a Pen" by Janet Gray, and "The Feminist Poetry Movement" by Kim Whitehead.

  20. Understanding rap as rhetorical folk-poetry

    Brent Wood.

    Mosaic : a Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Literature, Vol. 32, No. 4, Dec 1999, pp. 129-146.

    Twenty years after its genesis, Rap poetry remains a vastly popular art-form across the continent and around the world, although its importance as a new type of poetic expression has been virtually unexplored by the scholarly community and by most poets. The reasons for this lack of attention include cultural differences between Euro-American and African-American sensibilities, the reluctance of academic poets and critics to embrace popular culture, and the inability of print-based analysis to deal adequately with oral artistry.

  21. Poetry, the University, and the Culture of Distraction

    Jonathan Monroe.

    Diacritics, Vol. 26, No. 3/4, Fall 1996, pp. 3-30.

    In keeping with this tradition, the antigeneric, antiabsorptive, overgenred kinds of writing that have come into prominence over the past two decades-often though by no means always associated with the names language writing or language poetry-have revitalized important questions concerning contemporary poetry's relation to questions of community, interdiscursivity, normativity, interdisciplinarity, and the international, multicultural, multilingual forces that have increasingly come to shape the cultural role of the university in the 1990s. From the vantage point of a Romantic tradition intent on preserving what it takes to be the authentically "Personal," what is called "Poetry" often gets treated as though it were the implacable and ever irreconcilable foe of those genres of writing called "Theory" or "Philosophy," which are conceived in turn to be aligned on the same side of the same two-dimensional chessboard with what are called "Politics" and the "Collective." Against the grain of an institutionalized Anglo-American insularity such as that exemplified in Stanley Fish's recent invocation in Professional Correctness of "[t]he poetic we have inherited from Coleridge and Poe (the poetic of Romanticism)," 4 we might reconfigure contemporary American poetry in general and language writing in particular in relation to what might be called, not the but an alternative, more international Romantic tradition.

  22. Cowboy poetry in Pincher Creek: The gathering of '91

    Anne Nothof.

    Journal of Popular Culture, Vol. 27, No. 4, Spring 1994, pp. 153.

    A gathering of cowboy poets in Pincher Creek Canada in 1991 is discussed. Examples of the works of several cowboy poets, including Susan Vogelaar and Denis Nagel, are presented.