White Paper on Contemporary American Poetry

J. D. McClatchy, Author
J. D. McClatchy, Author Columbia University Press $57.5 (351p) ISBN 978-0-231-06944-1
Reviewed on: 05/01/1990
Release date: 05/01/1990
How do modern American poets wrest meaning from everyday experience and wider frames of reality? Confessional lyricist W. D. Snodgrass, notes poet McClatchy ( Stars Principal ), cast himself as Orpheus to descend into the emotional underworld of his failed marriage. In a sharp contrast, the author proffers Robert Penn Warren, who achieved self-definition when he abandoned cultural mythologies and confronted history directly. This clutch of erudite essays offers intensive textual readings of 11 poets. McClatchy weaves Freudian explications into his assessments; we see, for example, how Robert Lowell projected his manic-depressive discontents onto civilization and how John Berryman, who saw his father commit sucide when he was 12, undertook a poetic struggle to conquer death ``by becoming father of himself.'' Elizabeth Bishop, Anthony Hecht, Amy Clampitt and Sylvia Plath are among the poets discussed. (May)
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