Voicing American Poetry: Sound and Performance from the 1920's to the Present / Edition 1

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About the Author:
Lesley Wheeler is Professor and Department Head of English at Washington and Lee University

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"This is a fine study which demonstrates the innovative ways poets have tested the limits of poetry and the relationship between poet and audience. . . . As a teacher, reader, and writer of poetry who is watching the poetry community fragment and stagnate in unproductive ways, I find Wheeler's study an important contribution to the conversation that I hope will provide a framework by which we may incorporate these many differing methods of performing poetic voice."—Heidi Czerwiec, North Dakota Quarterly (Summer 2009)

"Lesley Wheeler's excellent new book explains today's beautiful and strange style of voicing poetry, from its origins with Edna St. Vincent Millay reading her poems on the radio, right up to the last poetry conference you attended. It captures today's scene in the world of poetry readings and engages the ideas of the most relevant contemporary critics and poets. One of my many favorite lines reads, 'You don't have to take dictation from W. H. Auden's ghost to recognize that all poems, even the most apparently lyric, are in various senses polyvocal, composite, choral, rife with dissenting discourses, even haunted.' Voicing American Poetry is smart, informative, and funny throughout. Perhaps most important, Wheeler chose her key poets wisely. She's superb on Langston Hughes and on the collaborative work of Denise Duhamel and Maureen Seaton. This is a very good read and an important contribution to the field."—Jennifer Michael Hecht, The New School, author of Funny and The Next Ancient World

"Voicing American Poetry performs an important intervention in the poetry wars that continue to consume energy and ink, and it will also serve very valuable pedagogical purposes inside and outside the classroom. This is a kind of aesthetic peacemaking through close textual reading and cultural and performance studies. Wheeler's large mind and imagination are capable of seeing beyond simple oppositions to appreciate and to understand many different kinds of writing and poetry performance from various times and locations."—Julia Spicher Kasdorf, Pennsylvania State University, author of Eve's Striptease

"Lesley Wheeler's close listening to the sounds of performed poetry captures what happens when textual voices become, for a moment, voiced texts. Amplifying the resonance of poems recited, staged, broadcast, and recorded by performers from Edna St. Vincent Millay and Langston Hughes to the contenders on the Four Corners slam team, this book restores the vitality, capaciousness, and flexibility of the term voice as a way to comprehend poetry as an idea, a genre, and a force for social and political change."—Adalaide Morris, John C. Gerber Professor of English, The University of Iowa

"With echoes from Edna St. Vincent Millay, Langston Hughes, and Allen Ginsberg, Lesley Wheeler's Voicing American Poetry celebrates the activation of language from eye/mind to ear/body."—Junior Burke, Chair, Writing and Poetics, Naropa University's Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics

"Voicing American Poetry is a bold and original work of poetics. Its readability will ensure broad appeal, and its significant new thinking will catalyze lively debate. Its methods (including participant observation) are fresh and exciting, and the sharp intelligence that drives the argument in Voicing American Poetry will surely change our thinking about poetry and voice for years to come."—Cynthia Hogue, Professor and Marshall Chair in Modern and Contemporary Poetry, Arizona State University, author of The Incognito Body

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801474422
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 4/17/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 248
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     ix
Introduction: Voice Identification     1
Sounding Poetic Voice     16
Edna St. Vincent Millay's Performance of Presence     39
Voice and the Visual Poetry of Langston Hughes     60
Lyric Collaborations: James Merrill, David Jackson, Denise Duhamel, and Maureen Seaton     89
Voice Activated: Contemporary Academic Poetry Readings and the National Poetry Slam     127
Afterword: Resonances     164
A Selected List of Public Poetry Soundings since 1950     169
Five Poets from Four Corners: An Interview, August 2005     175
Notes     187
Works Cited     205
Index     223
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