The Fate of American Poetry

Overview


Are we witnessing the death of American poetry? Many critics have charged as much, pointing to a poetry that is increasingly marginal, specialized, and cloistered. Challenging such doomsayers, Jonathan Holden offers a hopeful appraisal of the current state of American poetry. Examining the reasons behind the loss of readership and diminished status of poetry in America, Holden blames the advent of modernism and the institutionalization of the modernist tradition in university English departments. Although in ...
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Overview


Are we witnessing the death of American poetry? Many critics have charged as much, pointing to a poetry that is increasingly marginal, specialized, and cloistered. Challenging such doomsayers, Jonathan Holden offers a hopeful appraisal of the current state of American poetry. Examining the reasons behind the loss of readership and diminished status of poetry in America, Holden blames the advent of modernism and the institutionalization of the modernist tradition in university English departments. Although in many ways the American university's overwhelming support of poetry has left the art more vigorous than ever, it has also encouraged a mass production of mediocre verse.

Holden contends that the best postwar American poets have shed the elitist vestiges of modernism and have enlarged both the capabilities of poetry and its appeal to a general audience by incorporating subject matter formerly confined to other genres. In discussing contemporary poems Holden illustrates how American poetry, by including a more diverse subject matter, can assert some just claim to a wider audience--a literate audience of nonspecialists.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Holden is the first critic I've read in a long time who so ambitiously maps out promising fields for poets to labor in."--X. J. Kennedy

"Brilliant, careful, and necessary."--Bruce Weigl

Library Journal
When ``schools'' of poets wage war, as they always do, inter se , critics can be counted on to join the fray. However, when the critic is also a fine poet, the critical analysis takes on a special significance. Readers of Holden's splendid new book will be rewarded by his summary of the latest battle: neo-formalists versus post-(post?)-modernists versus creative writing programs versus whatever. The decline of modernism is also examined. Holden rightly chastises those who decry the institutionalization of poetry; details the current state of lyric, narrative, and political poetry; and gives sensitive, intelligent readings of works by new and established poets. An important book by a solid poet and critic. Highly recommended.-- Vincent D. Balitas, Allentown Coll., Center Valley, Pa.
Booknews
Holden accepts the common critical complaint that American poetry has lost its audience, but points to evidence that, by including a more diverse subject matter, it can reassert its claim to a wider, literate audience of nonspecialists. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780820333113
  • Publisher: University of Georgia Press
  • Publication date: 7/1/2008
  • Pages: 160
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.38 (d)

Meet the Author


Jonathan Holden is Distinguished University Professor of English and Poet-in-Residence at Kansas State University. In 2005 he was appointed as the first Poet Laureate of Kansas. Holden's many books include the memoir Mama's Boys: A Double Life, the poetry collection Knowing: New and Selected Poems, and the critical study The Old Formalism: Character in Contemporary American Poetry.
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