The Modern Poet: Poetry, Academia, and Knowledge since the 1750s

The Modern Poet: Poetry, Academia, and Knowledge since the 1750s

The Modern Poet: Poetry, Academia, and Knowledge since the 1750s

The Modern Poet: Poetry, Academia, and Knowledge since the 1750s

Synopsis

'Crawford's descriptions are eloquent.' -Michael Schmidt, The Independent 'This book opens intellectual borders... Crawford comes out as a poet in the first person, breaking with 'impersonality', demanding a place in the story... This 'I' makes the book beguiling and accountable.' -Michael Schmidt, The Independent 'Crawford amusingly exposes the persistent 'wild man' pose of some poets - Frost and Yeats in particular... He speaks up convincingly for several marginalized figures; there is an excellent discussion of Hugh MacDiarmid's later poetry.' -Jeremy Noel-Tod, Times Literary Supplement 'Endlessly fascinating and provocative book... The Modern Poet is an important book. Impeccably researched and passionately argued, it isn't a dry contribution to bibliography but a call to imaginative action.' -Brian Morton, Sunday Herald. Addressed to all readers of poetry, this is a book about the poet's role throughout the last three centuries. The Modern Poet shows how many successive generations of poets across the English-speaking world have had to collaborate and to battle with the culture of the universities.

Excerpt

This book is for readers of poetry. Some will love poetry’s music, its risk-taking with language, its visionary reach. Others will approach and return to poetry because in their professional lives they study or teach it as an academic subject. These groups of readers should not be mutually exclusive. The chapters that follow are written to make sense to people outside academia. Presented in plain, clear prose, they are also designed to interest and occasionally to provoke a specialist academic audience. Sometimes it may be hard to address both the classroom and the wider public. Yet since such difficulties are what The Modern Poet is about, it seems best to acknowledge them at the start. My argument is that sometimes awkward, but often fruitful links between academia and poetry condition how the figure of the poet has developed in Englishlanguage societies since the mid-eighteenth century. This formulation of the modern poet shapes our reading and our writing. If, like most literate human beings, at some time you have written a poem, have read poetry for pleasure, and have studied it, then this book offers you a detailed argument about the developing relationship between these overlapping activities.

To read or write poetry is to change one’s mind. The mind-altering, imaginative power of verse is what makes it so enjoyable. If words are among our greatest possessions, then poetry is language operating at its limits, and pointing the way beyond. In it imagination and articulation fuse at their highest intensity. This makes poetry such a rich resource. Yet writing verse (or reading it) is a critical as well as a creative activity. Very rarely does the author’s critical sense approve every word of a first draft. Almost always phrasing can be improved, expressions shortened, sharpened, or otherwise rewritten. If the alert reader relishes every word of a poem, then he or she is making a value judgement, regarding that piece of work as excellent among its kind. The writer of a poem is also that poem’s first reader. In the world of publication and circulation, poems’ meanings are made collaboratively, arising and often changing as a result of various people’s input. Sometimes the making of a poem works this way before . . .

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