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After Confession: Poetry as Autobiography

Overview

In an age of memoir, the distinction between fiction and nonfiction has become increasingly blurred, sparking controversy among writers and readers alike. But what about the autobiographical impulse in poetry? In this groundbreaking collection, some of our best contemporary poets contemplate the legacy of the confessional poets such as Plath, Sexton, and Lowell. They also tackle such fiery topics as the nature of authorial responsibility in telling the truth, the focus on issues of self in relation to others and ...

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Overview

In an age of memoir, the distinction between fiction and nonfiction has become increasingly blurred, sparking controversy among writers and readers alike. But what about the autobiographical impulse in poetry? In this groundbreaking collection, some of our best contemporary poets contemplate the legacy of the confessional poets such as Plath, Sexton, and Lowell. They also tackle such fiery topics as the nature of authorial responsibility in telling the truth, the focus on issues of self in relation to others and to the natural world, the very essence of craft as transformation, and the role female poets have played in breaking the code of silence.

Rich in opinion and theory, After Confession offers the first thorough discussion on the lyric "I"--the boundaries between literal and emotional truth, memory and imagination, person and persona, narcissism and revelation.

Contributors: Joan Aleshire Frank Bidart Kimberly Blaeser Joseph Bruchac Marilyn Chin Billy Collins Stephen Dunn Annie Finch Carol Frost Brendan Galvin Pamela Gemin Louise Gl├╝ck David Graham Kimiko Hahn Judith Harris Andrew Hudgins Colette Inez Yusef Komunyakaa Ted Kooser Sydney Lea William Matthews Thylias Moss Carol Muske-Dukes Sharon Olds Alicia Ostriker Stanley Plumly Claudia Rankine Adrienne Rich Kate Sontag Alan Williamson

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"The autobiographical impulse in English and American poetry is here explored in two poems and 28 essays by a range of contemporary poets. Each weighs in on a different area of the discussion, but all are evocative and engaging. One quickly discovers that the confessional poem's legacy extends further than the expected Plath, Sexton, and Lowell. Sappho, Shakespeare's elusive figures, Milton's daughters, and Mary Wordsworth are as likely to be evoked by these writers, as they demonstrate how the poetic voice spans an infinite variety of combinations. Colette Inez quotes Flaubert, while Claudia Rankine references Simone Weil: 'I am also other than what I imagine myself to be.' In concluding his essay, William Matthews writes, 'Jack Nicklaus didn't hit that shot out of a fairway bunker with a sidehill lie with his personality, he hit it with a 4-wood.' Other poets who join the discussion include Joseph Bruchac, Kimiko Hahn, Adrienne Rich, and Yusef Komunyakaa. The editors have done an outstanding job. Highly recommended to any library interested in poetics."--Library Journal

Publishers Weekly
Louise Glick, Yusef Komunyakaa, Claudia Rankine, Frank Bidart, U.S. poet laureate Billy Collins and 25 others explore verse that takes the poet's own life as its subject in After Confession: Poetry As Autobiography, edited by the Wisconsin-based poets David Graham (Stutter Monk) and Kate Sontag. Poems and (mostly) essays, new and (mostly) reprinted from journals or books, consider such poetry's heritage, and its powers. (Oct.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
The autobiographical impulse in English and American poetry is here explored in two poems and 28 essays by a range of contemporary poets. Each weighs in on a different area of the discussion, but all are evocative and engaging. One quickly discovers that the confessional poem's legacy extends further than the expected Plath, Sexton, and Lowell. Sappho, Shakespeare's elusive figures, Milton's daughters, and Mary Wordsworth are as likely to be evoked by these writers, as they demonstrate how poetic voice spans an infinite variety of combinations. Colette Inez quotes Flaubert, while Claudia Rankine references Simone Weil: "I am also other than what I imagine myself to be." In concluding his essay, William Matthews writes, "Jack Nicklaus didn't hit that shot out of a fairway bunker with a sidehill lie with his personality, he hit it with a 4-wood." Other poets who join the discussion include Joseph Bruchac, Kimiko Hahn, Adrienne Rich, and Yusef Komunyakaa. The editors have done an outstanding job. Highly recommended to any library interested in poetics. Scott Hightower, Fordham Univ., New York Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781555973551
  • Publisher: Graywolf Press
  • Publication date: 9/4/2001
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 360
  • Product dimensions: 5.72 (w) x 9.58 (h) x 0.99 (d)

Meet the Author

David Graham is the poetry editor of Blue Moon Review. He is the author of six collections of poetry, including Stutter Monk, and is a professor of English at Ripon College.

Kate Sontag teaches in the English Department at the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh. Her poetry has appeared in many journals and anthologies. She lives in Ripon, Wisconsin.

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Table of Contents

Take the I Out 1
Introduction: Containing Multitudes 3
I Staying News: Critical & Historical Perspectives
Personal and Impersonal 11
Staying News: A Defense of the Lyric 14
Making a Case; or, "Where Are You Coming From?" 38
Stories about the Self (I & II) 51
The Self within the Circle 71
My Grandfather's Tackle Box: The Limitations of Memory-Driven Poetry 81
II Our Better Halves: Autobiographical Musings
Voluminous Underwear; or, Why I Write Self-Portraits 95
Autobiography and Archetype 104
Family Talk: Confessional Poet? Not Me 114
My Better Half 127
Borges and I 129
The First Person in the Twenty-First Century 132
Coherent Decentering: Toward a New Model of the Poetic Self 137
The Autobiographical "I": An Archive of Metaphor, Imagery, and Innuendo 144
III Degrees of Fidelity: Ethical & Aesthetic Considerations
Mother, May I?: Writing with Love 151
Lying for the Sake of Making Poems 158
Self-Pity 162
Degrees of Fidelity 176
The Glass Anvil: "The Lies of an Autobiographer" 182
The Contemporary Poet and the Natural World 197
Blunt Instrument: A Zuihitsu 214
IV Codes of Silence: Women & Autobiography
Bless Me, Sisters 233
The Forbidden 244
Breaking the Code of Silence: Ideology and Women's Confessional Poetry 254
The Voices We Carry 269
Women and Poetry: Some Notes 281
Translating Self: Stealing from Wang Wei, Kowtowing to Hughes, Hooking Up with Keats, Undone by Donne 305
Beyond Confession: The Poetics of Postmodern Witness 317
In Those Years 333
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