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The Lyric and Modern Poetry

Olson, Creeley, Bunting


Brian Conniff

The lyric poem has long been considered a «timeless» form, and rigid lyric conventions inform most modern poetry and criticism. Yet these conventions are not indicative of anything «essentially poetic»; rather, they hide our culture's fundamental contempt for poetry, our refusal to take it seriously. They can help even a great poet to dismiss his own work as unimportant, as in the case of W.H. Auden; or they can provide the focus for an all-out attack on the Western metaphysical tradition, as in the case of Charles Olson. Because poets like Olson, Robert Creeley, Basil Bunting, and Louis Zukofsky question the assumptions most central to a lyric «genre,» it is their writing that best exposes, and best resists, our deep distrust of poetry.
Contents: A deconstruction of lyric conventions, especially the convention of timelessness - The first book to consider, in these terms, modern poets like Olson, Creeley, and Bunting.