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Poetry's Self-Portrait

The Visual Arts as Mirror and Muse in René Char and John Ashbery

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Mary E. Eichbauer

The intricate relationship between poetry and the visual arts has invited centuries of speculation about a deep connection of all art to mysterious sources of inspiration. In contrast, this study considers their association to be the ideological effect of a «colonizing» gaze which is essentially self-referential. By analyzing the poetry of René Char and John Ashbery, both deeply involved with art and artists, this study persuasively argues that the arts traditionally act for poetry as a kind of muse: a source of inspiration and a mirror for poetic self-definition.
Contents: Painting as a myth of poetic origins; painting as muse and mirror; autodiscourse, creation or commonplace; myth of origins in René Char's prose poems; John Ashbery's self-portraiture.