Poetics of Place: The Poetry of Ralph Gustafson
Dermot McCarthy has made extensive use of manuscripts, correspondence, and other archival material to uncover the complexity and genius of Gustafson's creativity. He traces Gustafson's development from an early, adolescent romanticism to his later modernist and post-modernist approaches, and situates this progression in the context of the general shifts in poetic approach and theory which took place during the same period. A Poetics of Place surveys not only the life of a poet but the evolution of literary sensibilities from the thirties to the eighties. Rather than force Gustafson's work into a theoretical matrix, McCarthy has avoided critical jargon and fads of literary theory and has focused on Gustafson as a writer, providing a perceptive and detailed analysis of all the major poems and volumes. McCarthy shows Gustafson's appreciation of the local -- his "poetics of place" -- to be a distinguishing feature of his genius. McCarthy allows the reader to return to the poetry itself.
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