Dove, and now Hill v. Duffy. In both dust-ups, a defender of poetry as beautiful, difficult, indirect statement attacks a defender of poetry as common language, easily accessible, direct statement. Poetry, says Hill, is “lines in depth designed to be seen in relation or in deliberate disrelation to lines above and below.” This is the approach of the American New Critics: the poem is an autonomous object, a well-wrought urn, which needs to be understood in its own terms. Its lines don’t necessarily – or don’t in obvious ways – engage with the world outside the poem – they engage with the lines above and below them. Carol Ann Duffy is about poetry as outreach, as a way to educate people, to make them more politically alive and astute. Hill, like Vendler, aligns with people like Harold Bloom and George Steiner, for whom reading poetry is more than anything about deepening and complicating one’s interiority, one’s most private consciousness. Rita Dove and Carol Ann Duffy regard poetry as more than anything about public, social discourse – by excavating the way people really feel, poetry draws readers into a community of like-feeling and in this way deepens social awareness and action.

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3 Responses to “First Vendler v. …”

  1. Mr Punch Says:

    Hot poet-on-poet action! And the Oxford professor of poetry versus the poet laureate, too! I’d say that they hold the views appropriate to their respective positions. And it is good to know that the critics do have an actual poet on their side.

  2. dmf Says:

    not sure what excavating means here but I don’t see any evidence that rendering moving examples (perspicuous presentations) that readers recognize themselves in, resonate with, has any direct connection to drawing people into an actual community of like-feeling let alone sparking action, but then I also don’t see that having refined aesthetic experiences has any direct relationship to deepening/complicating one’s inferiority, these are quite different skills/response-abilities.

  3. dmf Says:

    ha, I meant to type one’s interiority but I didn’t check how spellchecker was correcting me, a very heideggerian slip that I’m sure that Steiner would appreciate.

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