The Strength of Poetry

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Oxford University Press, 2003 - American poetry - 266 pages
Why should a poet feel the need to be original? What is the relationship between genius and apprenticeship? James Fenton examines some of the most intriguing questions behind the making of the art - issues of creativity and the earning of success, of judgement, tutorage, rivalry, and ambition. He goes on to consider the juvenilia of Wilfred Owen, the scarred lines of Philip Larkin, the inheritance of imperialism, and issues of constituency in Seamus Heaney. He looks too at Marianne Moore, Elizabeth Bishop, Sylvia Plath, and their contrasting feminisms, and at D.H. Lawrence, welcoming the dark. The climax of the book is his extensive discussion of Auden.
 

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User Review  - RandyMetcalfe - LibraryThing

The twelve essays contained in this volume were delivered at Oxford between 1995 and 1999 during James Fenton’s tenure there as Oxford Professor of Poetry. They are, each of them, masterly engagements ... Read full review

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User Review  - ElizabethPisani - LibraryThing

These essays are cogently argued and thought-provoking. One of Fenton's great strengths that he is a lot more than a poet. He therefore has much to drawn on as he formulates his thoughts on the place ... Read full review

Selected pages

Contents

A Lesson from Michelangelo
1
Wilfred Owens Juvenilia
23
Philip Larkin Wounded by Unshrapnel
45
Goodbye to All That?
65
The Orpheus of Ulster
85
Becoming Marianne Moore
103
The Many Arts of Elizabeth Bishop
127
Lady Lazarus
145
Men Women and Beasts
165
Auden on Shakespeares Sonnets
187
Blake Auden and James Auden
209
Auden in the End
229
NOTES
251
SOURCES
265
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About the author (2003)

James Fenton is one of the country's most acclaimed poets and author of The Memory of War and Children in Exile (1983) and the Whitbread Prize winning Out of Danger (1994). Formerly a critic for New Statesman and The Times, and for many years a far east correspondent for TheIndependent, Fenton succeeded Seamus Heaney as the Oxford Professor of Poetry in 1994.

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