Fishing by Obstinate Isles: Modern and Postmodern British Poetry and American Readers

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Keith Tuma's Fishing by Obstinate Isles explores the complex relations of recent British and American poetries, challenging reductive American views of a British poetry dominated by anti-modernism while discussing the role of rhetorics of national identity on both sides of the Atlantic in the persistence of these views.

Neither a full history nor a map of modern and contemporary British poetry, Fishing by Obstinate Isles is rather a series of essayistic interventions. By examining ideas of "an America in England and an England in America", and in pursuit of a transatlantic perspective that respects local and national differences while avoiding parochialism, Tuma investigates several pivotal moments in the history of the British-American interface in poetry: the prewar movement in the early 1930s and American enthusiasm for a British modernist poetry following in the wake of Pound and Eliot; the New Poets of England and America in the 1950s, when the continuities between the poetries of the two nations seemed considerable; and the late 1970s, when much of British poetry was thought to be either inscrutable or irrelevant to Americans.

Devoting its most extensive commentary to an eclectic collection of British modernist and postmodernist poets, including Joseph Gordon Macleod, Basil Bunting, Mina Loy, Roy Fisher, and Peter Riley, Fishing by Obstinate Isles attacks the relegation of British poetry to the zones of the quaint and antiquarian, making a compelling case for renewed engagements.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"One hopes that this book heralds and signals both more and less polemicism: fewer attacks on spurious straw figures and the passing of judgment based on prejudice, but more explanation, analysis, and reading of the poets and poetry on their own terms." —Contemporary Literature
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780810116238
  • Publisher: Northwestern University Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/1998
  • Series: Avant-Garde and Modernism Studies Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 280
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Keith Tuma is an associate professor in the Department of English at Miami University in Ohio. He is the author of Mina Loy: Woman and Poet.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Reading Modern and Postmodern British Poetry 1
Pt. 1 Histories
1 Anglo-American Relations in Poetry, 1960-1995 33
2 England in America, America in England: Rereading New Poets of England and America and British and American Fifties Poetry 80
3 Uncovering, Recovering British Modernisms in Poetry 104
Pt. 2 Readings
4 Mina Loy's "Anglo-Mongrels and the Rose" 143
5 Briggflatts, Melancholy, Northumbria 165
6 Alternative British Poetries 192
7 Edward Kamau Brathwaite's X / Self and Black British Poetry 244
Notes 265
Works Cited 279
Index 293
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