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Contemporary American Poetry is Representative


This magical profusion of thought and feeling-the most ancient form of expressive arts not only depicts the changing rends of time but in Its very depiction, It transcends time also. In creating rhythm out of words, acquainted with the divine madness of Plat’s Ion, our poets create a new world out of the old. In this sojourn of truth and beauty, the poets enkindle the world with the beacon of the poetical utterances. This is the reason that poets like Shakespeare, Aeschylus and T. S.

Eliot despite representing the contemporary literary trends remain untrimmed by the dust of the time. Modern civilization Is said to have reached at Its acme and so does It seem to be true of the today’s poetry-the most sophisticated form of man’s expression. But this apex is not achieved in a day. It is the convoy of innumerable twists and slips. The traces of this pilgrimage commenced when the first Pilgrim’ landed at Plymouth. Who knew that this small convoy of few members under Captain Adam Smith will turn out to be world’s largest reading community?

After passing through many ebb and flows of time, American poetry like Its civilization has reached to a state which is called ‘complex and mature’. The road of American literature Is filled with the dynamic literary movements, Intertwined with the historical changes emerging out of the literature, multiracial and multivalent American society. Ralph Emerson said about this multiculturalism in Volvo. IV of the Journals of Ralph Wallow Emerson with Annotations that: Man is the most composite of all creatures….

Well, as in the old burning of the Temple at Corinth, by the melting and intermixed of silver and gold and other metals a new compound more precious than any, called Corinthian brass was formed; so In this continent,–asylum of all matrons,–the energy of Irish, Germans, Swedes, Poles, and Cossacks, and all the European tribes-?of the Africans, and of the Polynesians,–will construct a new race, a new religion, a new state, a new literature, which will be as vigorous as the new Europe which came out of the smelting-pot of the Dark Ages, or that which earlier emerged from the Pelagic and Etruscan barbarism. 116) American literature has evolved out of this prismatic ‘melting pot’ of cultures where under some historical and cultural Influence, when a number of movement in the trail of evolution. This multiculturalism was the salient feature of American society and is more deeply seeped in today as explained in (What is An American Literature-An Overview): In the past twenty years, the field of American literature has undergone a radical transformation.

Just as the mainstream public has begun to understand America as more diverse, so, too, have scholars moved to integrate more texts by women and ethnic minorities into the standard canon of literature taught and studied. These changes can be both exhilarating and disconcerting, as the breadth of American literature appears to be almost limitless. (6)This is page no. Under the vicious circle of Cold War, contemporary American political canvas was painted with no. F domestic and global activities from Red scare to McCarthy and from the German crisis to the creation of Iron Curtain.

America, under the shadow of the nuclear warfare with the volcanic eruption of Korean crisis and caught in the quagmire of Vietnam conflict which according to Thomas A. Bailey and David M. Kennedy in The American Pageant: By January 1970, the Vietnam conflict had become the longest in American history and, with 40,000 killed and over 250,000 wounded, the third most costly war in the nation’s experience. Disgust with the bloody mess in Vietnam was further deepened by shocking reports of massacre f the innocent women and children by American troops. 883; Chi. 44; Volvo. 2) Knowing what Eisenhower said, “Every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies… A theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and never clothed” (CTD. In The American Pageant 842), but the hovering Cuban missile crisis and the Sputnik race could not be resisted and could create nothing but the ethnic rage and black revolutionary outburst of the stormy sixties. T. S. Elite’s need of the rain was not less felt now as in the earlier quarter of the century in The Wasteland: “Data.

Advantage. Adamant/ Shanties shanties shanties”(431-432). Starting with Puritanism in the sixteenth century and then passing through the Enlightenment of the eighteenth and Romanticism and Transcendentalism of the nineteenth centuries, the entourage of the literature seems to have crossed the Modernism. A period of drowsiness loomed over the American poetry and a lull came after the great poems by the modernists in the asses, asses, and asses. American poetry paused, as many poets imitated what had been innovative a few decades before.

The catalog of cultural shocks seems to have created the feeling of disassociated insensibility and have shaken the man to his very soul leaving the prints of the feelings of alienation, loss, despair and annihilation. Importantly, there is rebirth and rejuvenation in ruin and the contemporary literature celebrates the endless cycle of destruction, as it ever gives rise to new forms and creations. At this critical moment of the history, a transformation took place in the American society with the rise of the mass media and mass culture.

Radio, movies, and then the most powerful television changed the very foundation of American life and culture. It changed from an individual literary culture of book reading too media ultra harmonize its beat with that of radio, music, film, and television. The vast canopy of American literature like its age seems to be thronged with a host of styles colored with the humdrum of kaleidoscopic activities and with the multitude of its contemporaneous era but makes it difficult to give some single term to this poetic era.

However, Kathy Evanescence’s explains in Outlines of American Literature that: It can be arranged along a spectrum, producing three overlapping camps the traditional on one end, the idiosyncratic in the middle, and the experimental on the other hand. Traditional poets have maintained or revalidated poetic traditions. Idiosyncratic poets have used both traditional and innovative techniques in creating unique voices. Experimental poets have courted new cultural styles. (92; chi. ) Swayed by the alienation of Capitalism, Nietzsche objection to the divine patterns, Freudians psychological determinism of man from Inside and Marxist economic determination of man from Outside forces, the men of letters created a world of interior monologue reflecting the inner working of mind, moving at its own whims freely through the past and present by using the technique of the stream of unconsciousness. This celebration of the inner strength concerned with the unconscious, results in a collage of different materials.

The belief that the world is created in the act of perceiving and that the truth of everything is relative and is bound to change. What is more important is Perspectives that is to find out the meaning from the viewpoint of the individual. The conflicting perspectives of various narrators and speakers reflect the multiplicities of truth and the diversities of reality. The single third-person narrator is no longer an authority. What we see today is the presence of many narrators located within the action of the action and the use of many voices presenting contrasting views.

Traditional forms and ideas did not provide meaning to many American poets in the second half of the 20th century. The very sense of history changed after World War II. Each act, emotion, and moment was seen as unique. Style and form now seemed provisional and everything depended on the process of composition and the writer’s self-awareness. Originality was becoming a new tradition. The break from tradition gathered momentum during the 1957 when Allen Ginsberg poem Howl went through the obscenity trial and triumphed over the censors.

It laid more emphasis on the process of perception and knowing by the use of formal, linguistic, representational devices to present more closely the texture or process or structure of knowing and perceiving. It means presentation of a layered experience which is allusive, fragmented and discontinuous. Language itself has become complex and thick with layers of multiple meanings, structured symbolically or metaphorically with open or ambiguous endings which seem more close to reality opposed to those closed endings, in which matters were resolved. An important hallmark of the post- modernism is traditionalism.

Under the impact f the great masters like T. S. Eliot traditional writers followed the traditional patterns of form, meter and diction. Many of them taught in college and universities. Robert Lowell, Allen Tate, Robert Penn Warren, James Merrill and John Jabbers are some of the notable poets. James Merrill’s self-conscious diction combines wit, puns and literary allusions. Merrill, who was innovative in his urban themes, unrushed lines, personal subjects, and light conversational tone, shares a witty habit with the traditionalists in The Broken Heart (1966), writing about a marriage as if it were a cocktail: Always that same old story

A marriage on the rocks. (41-43) Merrill and John Jabbers, though traditional, rejuvenated poetry and its diction. Here are few lines from The Daffy Duck in Hollywood by Jabbers: I don’t want to go back inside anymore. You meet Enough vague people on this emerald traffic- island-?no, Not people, coming and goings, more: mutterings, and splattering, The bizarrely but effectively equipped infantries of happy-go-nutty. (21-25) Poet Secondly Brooks (1917-2000) wrote of the difficulties of living in urban slums. Her Kitchenette Building (1945) asks how But could a dream send up through onion fumes

Its’ white and violet, fight with fried potatoes And yesterday’s garbage ripening in the hall…. (4-6) Many poets like Brooks, Adrienne Rich, Richard Wilbur, Robert Lowell, and Robert Penn Warren, were writing traditionally, using rhyme and meters, but turned towards the trend of open forms in ass’s. Robert Lowell (1917-1977) was one of the revolutionary of the traditionalists who openly criticized World War II and also the Vietnam conflict. His style mixes the human with the majestic. Often he uses traditional rhyme, but his colloquialism disguises it until it seems like background melody.

It was experimental poetry, however, that gave Lowell his breakthrough into a creative individual idiom. But when he heard poetry of Allen Ginsberg Howl and Gary Sender’s Myths and Text, he changed his writing drastically, dropped many of his obscure allusions and his rhymes became integral to the experience within the poem instead of superimposed on it. In Life Studies (1959), he initiated confessional poetry, a new mode in which he bared his most tormenting personal problems with great honesty and intensity.

He discovered not only his individuality but celebrated it in its most difficult and private manifestations. Loser’s transformation proved a watershed for poetry after the war and opened the way for many younger writers. Loser’s confessional poetry has been particularly influential. John Ferryman, Anne Sexton, and Sylvia Plate are impossible to be understood without Lowell. Idiosyncratic Confessional Poetry- the middle generation of 20th-century American poets emerged in the asses and ass and used the modernist techniques to explore their own psychology and their lives.

They employed irony, collage, verbal finish (careful attention to word choice for the effects of sound or rhythm as well as for meaning), and wide-ranging allusion. Steeped in Freudian analysis and imagery, these poems tracked psychological breakdowns; and a number of confessional poets, including Sexton and Plate, took their own lives. Their poetry explored tortured family relationships and examined the female psyche, the female body, and the dynamics of mother-daughter interactions. Sexton’s and Plash’s poetry influenced the development of feminist poetry-?poetry by women that questioned the traditional roles society assigned to females.

It played an important role in the development of feminist poetry and a key poet n the tradition of political investigation is Muriel Ruckuses, whose poetry looks at labor problems and larger class issues. A contemporary of the confessional poets, Rustler’s work stands apart in its commitment to social Justice. Another important female poet who is equally hard to categorize is Elizabeth Bishop. Influenced by always rendered in a most uncommon language, and many of her observations suggest a psychological dimension not unrelated to the confessional poets.

Plate and Sexton are some of the poets who developed unique styles drawing on tradition but extending it into new realms with a distinctively contemporary flavor. Sylvia Plate (1932-1963) was one of the most notable writers of the second half of the twentieth century, apparently leading an excellent life, but behind this smokescreen were her innumerable psychological problems. Her agony was agonized by her husband’s separation and while ill, isolated, and desperate, she had to take care of the children.

In that emotional turmoil, despite her eruption of the lava of her imagination, the earthquake could not be prevented and she committed suicide by gassing herself in her kitchen. The poems written in anguish were later collected in the volume Ariel (1965), two years after her death. Plash’s early poetry is traditional, but in her later poems like The Applicant (1966), she exposes the emptiness in the current role of wife (who is reduced to an inanimate “it”). Her poem Daddy, a venomous poem which emits her sloth against all those social taboos imposed on the woman under the garb of father.

You do not do, you do not do Any more, black shoe In which I have lived like a foot For thirty years, poor and white, Barely daring to breathe or Cacao. Daddy, I have had to kill you. You died before I had time (1-7) Another dominating trend of the contemporary poetry is its experimentation. Almost all the poets of the twentieth century were experimental; amalgamating innumerable patterns of thought and form but the last quarter of the century was jostling with unique and dynamic characteristic of its own. Inaugurating with William Carols Williwaw’s massive epic poem Paterson (five Volvo. 1946-1958), which celebrates the hometown of Paterson, New Jersey, as seen by an autobiographical “Dry. Paterson”. Williams, the champion of colloquial speech and natural rhythm helped free American poetry from the iambic meter that held sway over English poetry since Renaissance. Williams in this poem Juxtaposes lyric passages, prose, letters, autobiography, newspaper accounts and historical facts. The layout’s ample white space suggests the open road theme of American literature and gives a sense of even new vistas open to the poor people who visit parks on Sundays. Bring, a Sunday afternoon! -and goes by the footpath to the cliff (counting: the proof) himself among others -trends there the same stones On which there feet slip as they climb, Paced by their dogs! Laughing, calling to each other- late American poets now seem to be writing in reaction to The Waste Land of T. S. Eliot. Like Hart Crane who viewed his epic-length The Bridge (1930) as an answer to Eliot, Williams saw his own Paterson as a kind of local and optimistic answer to Elite’s cosmopolitan poem of pessimism.

Crane sought a way to bridge the American past to a productive American future and revealed the wasteland of the present as a necessary stepping-stone to that future. Kathy Evanescence’s streamlines the diverse experimentalism of the latter half of the century in outline of American Literature as: They may be divided into five Jose schools, identified by Donald Allen in The New American Poetry (1960), the first anthology to present the work of poets who were previously neglected by the critical and academic communities.

Inspired by Jazz and abstract expressionist painting, most of experimental writers are a generation younger than Lowell. (99; Chi. 7) They were making striking alterations in their verse forms and opening their poetry up to more experimental rhythms and more radical social thoughts. Some poets, including Richard Wilbur, Donald Justice, and Anthony Yecch, have devoted their entire careers o write poetry, and turned to be amongst the most accomplished formal poets in American history. Others who started out as formalists gave up allegiance to traditional forms to explore and respond to radical political change.

Rebelling the universities and outspokenly criticizing “bourgeois” American society, they wrote poetry which is daring, original, and sometimes shocking. They were searching archaic values of myth, legend, and traditional societies of the American Indians. The form of their poetry depends on the subject matter and the feeling of the poet at the time of their composition. The Black Mountain School is one of the representative of experimental group . They represented a break from new formalism.

This break traces back to Black Mountain College, an experimental school in North Carolina where Charles Olson taught the theory of “projective verse,” which preached an open-form approach to poetic composition, driven by the natural patterns of breath and utterance. Robert Crowley was one of the major Black Mountain poets. In The Warning (1955), Crowley imagines the violent, loving imagination: For love I would split open your head and put a candle in behind the eyes. Love is dead in us if we forget the virtues of an amulet and quick surprise.

Another group of poets known as the San Francisco School was impressed by Eastern philosophy and religion, Japanese and Chinese poetry, always aspiring of the Orient have deep feelings for nature. Nature not only inspires them but also serves as backdrop of their poetry. They write simple, optimistic poetry. Gary Snyder seems to be the best among these poets who tries to create a harmony between individual and his surroundings. His poem This Poem for Deer exhibits his stance: I dance on all the mountains When they shoot at me, I run

To my five mountains. (1-4) Another group of poets known as the Beat Poets were inspired by Jazz, Eastern religion, and the wandering life. Beat poetry is oral poetry which is a great- grandparent of the rap music that became prevalent in the asses. Let is the most anti- establishment form of literature in the United States, but beneath its shocking words lie a love of country. This poetry is a cry of pain and a rage at what the poets see as the loss of America’s innocence and the tragic waste of its human and material resources.

Poems like Allen Ginsberg Howl (1956) revolutionized traditional poetry: I away the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, Starving hysterical naked Another notable trend in the poetry was that of the New York School. Unlike Beat and San Francisco School, they were not much concerned with the moral questions because of their interest for the abstract art. Impressionism is their major inspiration and their work is often difficult to comprehend. As in the later work of John Jabbers (1927- ) who seems to be the most critically esteemed poet of the late 20th century.

Self-portrait in a Convex Mirror (1975) is his beautiful reflective poem: The hand holds no chalk And each part of the whole falls off And cannot know it knew, except Here and there in cold pockets Of remembrance, whispers out of time. (546-550) Other modernist poets focused even more intently on experimentation with language and form. Some of their work was quite playful and some of it showed the influence of dada, surrealism and existentialism. These were the European movements that undermined and mocked the value and traditions of art.

According to the Kathy Evanescence’s, in the Outlines of American Literature, surrealism: “expresses the unconscious through vivid dreamlike imagery, and much otter by women and ethnic minorities that has flourished in recent years. Though superficially distinct, surrealists, feminists, and minorities appear to share a sense of alienation from mainstream literature” (102; Chi. 7). In America under the stress of the Vietnam conflict. Many American writers turned to French and especially Spanish surrealism for its pure emotion, its archetypal images, and its models of anti-rational, existential unrest.

Robert Fly’s political surrealism criticized American values and foreign policy in Vietnam War in the poem The Teeth Mother Naked at Last: Massive engines lift beautifully from the deck. Wings appear over the trees, wings with eight hundred rivets Engines burning a thousand gallons of gasoline a minute sweep over the huts with dust floor. The chickens feel the new fear deep in the pits of their beaks. ( 1-4; pot. L) Instead of their early beliefs of equal rights, American women of the late asses, in their struggle and protests against the Vietnam conflict had begun to recognize their own limitations.

Never in the annals of literature, women were so active and numerous as now. Contemporary field of American poetry is buzzing with women’s anger. Maya Angelo seeks the search of the soul through Woman Work: Shine on me Rain on me rain Fall softly dewdrops And cool my brow again Storm blow me from here With your fiercest wind Let me float across the sky Till I can rest again (16-20) Some other notable groups of American poetry with the wave of multicultural and multivalent activities concentrating on the issues like race and ethnicity, spiritual life, familial and gender roles, and language.

It is Spanish-influenced poetry that includes many diverse groups. Among these are Mexican Americans, known since the asses as Chicanes. They belonged to southwestern U. S. States annexed from Mexico in the Mexican-American War ending in 1848. Their poetry has very powerful impact when it is read aloud. Rudolf Gonzales (1928-2005) is one of their representative poets. With fine poetry, Native American poets are playing a vital role in the cultural heritage. Indian poets have also voiced a tragic sense of irrevocable loss of their rich heritage.

Simon Rotor (1941- ), an Coma Pueblo, often reminds them of the injustice and violence done to Native Americans. He envisions racial harmony with better understanding. African-American Poetry includes a wide range of themes and tones. African- American literature is the most developed ethnic writing in America with all diversity. Mira Bark (1934- ), the best-known African-American poet of the asses and asses is a political activist and dramatist too. Maya Angelo (1928- ) also writes poetry as well as dramas.

Asian-American Poetry represents Americans of Japanese, Chinese, and Filipino descent have lived in the United States for eight generations, while Americans of Korean, Thai, and Vietnamese are recent immigrants with a distinctive linguistic, historical, and cultural tradition. A mushroom of poetic activities including the Language Poets’ ambiguity, fragmentation, self-assertion, open forms and multicultural texts are the talk of poetic town at the end of the 20th century. They pick up images from popular culture and the media, and refashion them and invite participation like performance poetry instead of interpretation.

Well-known figures of the recent period include Laurie Anderson (1947- ), David Anti (who extempore his performances) and Jackson Mac Low. Mac Low has also written visual or concrete poetry, which makes a visual statement using placement and typography. Ethnic performance poetry with rap music and open poetry reading contests that are held in alternative art galleries and literary bookstores have become inexpensive, high-spirited, participatory entertainments are some of the highlights of the last decade.

Though the flute of American poetry is producing its’ luscious tones and will continue striking the ears with its’ musical symphonies, we conclude our discussion American Verse that: American poetry, once an offshoot, now seemed to be a patent stem. Speculative, daring and sometimes melodious, it has become the register of some of the most independent minds. What they have written has urgency, sensitivity to contemporary conditions, force of utterance…. Such clustered enterprise makes persuasive the claims of this poetry to have a distinctive and national character. Par 1) It is winsome and salutatory to admit in this age of chairpersons that the chairperson of the history of American poetry was none other than a woman, Anne Broadsheet. But apart from the shining stars like William Culled Bryant, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, Marianne Moore, and Robert Frost, the panorama of American poetry is sparkling with a vast poetic production. American poetry with all its political acumen has reached to what Hart Crane expressed with exhilaration, to a ‘new threshold, new anatomies’.

It is the most prolific stage celebrating the vast amount of culturally diverse poetry with the growing domination of the Internet and a celebration of new man in American poetry. It seems little likely, that the labels which have been opted by recent poets in the 20th century to stay but two trends cannot be averted so lightly. One is the possibility of autobiographical or personal touch reaching to confession and the other is the attempt of seeking authentic in the casual by incorporating surrealistic strangeness into the familiar.