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I hit the age of twenty-four and went into a poetry workshop and discovered that no one was writing formal poetry anymore.
In trying to grasp Expansive poetry in these terms we are confronted by a contradiction within the movement itself--a contradiction nicely exemplified in Frederick Feirstein's "The Other Long Poem." On the one hand Feirstein dismisses the identification of formal poetry with class bias as "sloganeer[ing]" accepted only by those who aren't "sophisticated enough to sort out aesthetics from politics from fashion" (55).
The Chicano poet Alberto Rios and black poets Cheryl Clarke and Carolyn Beard Whitlow come to mind; Derek Walcott (who is West Indian, resident in America by choice) has made stunning formal poetry in Caribbean patois, alongside the major body of his work in standard English.
The introduction of recognizably American speech(es) and diction(s) into formal poetry by writers as disparate as Langston Hughes, Robert Frost, Edna St.
AG What has changed in the climate of contemporary Americanpoetry for formal poetry since you first started publishing in the1980s?
On the cover of his book (see below) is an illustration by Ben Shahn called Sunday Painting, and that points toward Berry's weekly ritual: a solitary meditation on the way of life that he has created in this landscape, stray thoughts elevated to the level of formal poetry. There are almost no historical or mythological references; history itself is "disordered." This is where he differs from such Agrarian poets as Ransom and Tate, who made a myth out of their Southern version of history.
If anything, that signals more of a rupture with potential readers in France than it does here, because people who receive a liberal arts education will have read and analyzed much more poetry, largely formal poetry, by the time they finish secondary school, than almost any American college graduate.
Not all formal poetry is written in received forms, but it all does have in common a linguistic, syntactical or musical structure, often working contrapuntally to the narrative, intellectual, or emotional exposition of the piece.
In the 1980s, Bishop's and Merrill's examples are especially influential in reviving an interest in formal poetry and enabling such younger poets as Katha Pollitt, Mary Jo Salter, and William Logan to use traditional forms without subscribing to formalist assumptions.
Gwyneth Lewis's background as a Welsh-speaking Welsh woman (her first collection of poetry, Sonedau Redsa, is in Welsh) may be one source for her commitment to formal poetry, since all of the ancient and much of modern Welsh-language poetry is composed in very strict forms.
An experimentalist, O'Hara nevertheless occasionally wrote formal poetry, such as his brilliant, effective odes ("Ode to Michael Goldberg['s Birth and Other Births]") and elegies ("For James Dean"), working within the genres' limitations to expand their possibilities, as he did with the loose sequence of forty-four love poems written for Vincent Warren between 1959 and 1961 and including "Joe's Jacket," "Having a Coke with You," and "Poem V (F) W."

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