Lyric Shame: The Lyric Subject of Contemporary American Poetry

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The influence of the poetic mode that M. Abrams coined as the "Greater Romantic lyric" can be heard echoing through a significant number of modern poems.

Beyond "Lyric Shame": Ben Lerner on Claudia Rankine and Maggie Nelson | Literary Hub

A three-part structure, it starts with "description of [a] landscape" that induces "memory, thought, anticipation, [or] feeling," a process through which "the lyric speaker achieves an insight, faces up to a tragic loss, comes to a moral decision, or resolves an emotional problem" The speaker's recognition urges the poem back to the instigating landscape but with a changed vision.

Such an achievement, however, is often what is called, with derision, the "epiphany. In particular, it has been a field for voicing skepticism over the substance and ethics of representing selfhood and knowledge. Lyn Hejinian made a charge against the mode in her influential essay "The Rejection of Closure," citing a "coercive, epiphanic mode in some contemporary lyric poetry [. In a recent essay published on the Boston Review' s website, Rachel Galvin explains how we can add shame to the list of negative reactions associated with the mode.

Lyric poetry [. The lyric poem is accused of being so directive as to put the "author" back into "authoritarian.

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Yet, despite gestures toward completion—either form concluding like a snake eating its own tail or epiphany tidily placing insight in its mouth—and the meditative lyric's use of an identifiable speaker, it would be a mistake to reject the mode wholesale. Just looking over the last fifty years, we can see fine examples of contemporary poets thinking through and against this form in order to make vital and ethical poems.

This all starts with recognizing that the lyric "self" in a descriptive-meditative poem is always a provisional self, one constantly in a state of becoming, a process that involves the reader. Secondly, the more innovative versions have moved us beyond the anxiety over authenticity by accepting a poem as a made and mediating thing. Entering into the space of the descriptive-meditative lyric, the poet opens into life and life comes back. The work of the poet, then, is never exhausted, and the poet is revealed not to be the arbiter and dispenser of absolute wisdom, but merely a person reinventing attention, who tomorrow must step in and do it again.

The provisional nature of the descriptive-meditative lyric has been highlighted by contemporary versions that have replaced the instigating landscape with ekphrasis, the practice of describing other works of art in a poem. In order to begin the process of associations, a poet doesn't have to visit Tintern Abbey or Dover Beach; a poet only needs to think of a painting, or sculpture, or movie.


Any visual image we can traverse and read will do. Mark Doty's "Nocturne in Black and Gold" is in it. Yet, more recent poems by Jennifer Grotz, Kathleen Graber, and Mary Hickman demonstrate how vital the tradition remains. Jennifer Grotz's poem "Medusa," first published in New England Review in , combines ekphrasis with the descriptive-meditative lyric, and it begins:. The first impression is of the curdling of a face.

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The second is an awe at the gall he had to paint it, Caravaggio, and on a shield, a kind of curse on the viewer frozen into staring Grotz actually inverts the expectations for scene and evoked experience. So what we do and who we are distinction is very important.

We should be responsible fro all we decide and perform in life. If what we do in life is a mistake, so then, we must put the blame on ourselves. In such cases the expression of our inner self becomes worthless.

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The appeal of the personal inner self-expression as an aesthetic value changes from reader to reader. This is the point where White thinks to be very critical for the generation of the aesthetic value in the minds of the reader. This is not a strategy of ignoring the reader and crediting the lyric composer.

So, in accord with their natural structures, we can consider lyric and shame elements as natural human skills. If we tend to interfere and change the development of their nature, we can very easily kill the very special taste and authentic meaning they are gifted with. That is the question particularly brought to the fore in the development of the argument of Lyric Shame. Techniquely speaking, what is the origin of shame?

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On the other, as a synonym of hamartia it leads to tragedy as it is in Lear, Oedipus, and Hamlet etc. So, next, what is the origin of lyric? So, then why do we cry? As a matter of fact all types of biologic organisms have mechanisms to reflect their cry for the need of something or for the fear to avoid the predators to survive. No matter whether human or animal all biological entities need protection and bettering themselves.

The human cry is gifted with stimuli cognitive awareness while the animals with an instinctive awareness. A bird and a child both cry to eat or to be protected. This is the principle of safety to survive. The cry is the voice, the song, the lyric.

Lyric Shame - Gillian White

Unification of different technical elements of different critical approaches helps White develop an integrated paradigm of lyric poetry reading. Her trying to broaden understanding and appreciation on behalf of the poet reminds her awareness about the traditional stance. Elwell Sutton, L. Graff, Gerald, Beyond the Culture Wars. Huntington, Samuel P.

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Jakobson, Roman, What Is Poetry? Jameson, Fredric, A Singular Modernity. Essay on the Ontology of the Present , London Levine, Caroline, Forms. Moretti, Franco, Distant Reading , London New Approaches to the Lyric , Amsterdam , — Wagner, Cambridge, MA Ramazani, Jahan, Yeats and the Poetry of Death.