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Metaformal Trends in Contemporary American Poetry

Electronic Theses and Dissertations

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This thesis proposes a metaformal poetics in reading several of the disparate formal trends of the last thirty years in American poetry. Chapter One develops Stephen Cushman’s earlier consideration of metaformalism in the work of A. R. Ammons and situates the metaformal in the lineage of Charles Olson’s influential essay on “Projective Verse.” I connect Ammons to Lyn Hejinian and explore how both extend this lineage through three-dimensional conceptions of poetic space and multi-directional syntax. Chapter Two connects metaformalism to the metamodern—a concept which Timotheus Vermeulen and Robin van den Akker (2010) propose as the successor to post-modernity—identifying three additional metaformal strategies in the poetry of Ben Lerner: the development of formal personae, shifting angles of lyric perspective, and the invocation of poetry’s ability to figure absence through presence. Chapter Three explores the innovative form-within-a-form in the work of Greg Williamson and Fred Chappell; I consider the link between metaformalism and New Formalism in order to challenge some of the criticism that has recently been raised against contemporary formal verse, namely accusations of gimmickry and conservatism. I conclude with a brief discussion of Oni Buchanan’s 2009 collection Spring, which utilizes many of the methods examined in the previous chapters as well as visual and digital poetics. My goal in identifying these metaformal strategies collectively is to suggest that the contemporary moment is one of intersectionality, to challenge various binary categorizations, such as the “mainstream” and the avant-garde, and to suggest new possibilities for reading poetry in the 21st century.
A. R. Ammons
Ben Lerner
Fred Chappell
Greg Williamson
Lyn Hejinian
Muller, Alexander James (author)
Hans, James S. (committee chair)
Hena, Omaar (committee member)
2016-05-21T08:35:34Z (accessioned)
2016-05-21T08:35:34Z (available)
2016 (issued)
English (discipline)
http://hdl.handle.net/10339/59270 (uri)
en (iso)
Wake Forest University
Metaformal Trends in Contemporary American Poetry

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