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Editor: Susan Wiseman

In examining early modern women and the poem, this book explores how women use poetry, and how poems use women, in England and Scotland in the period 1550–1680. Several decades of critical writing on 'women's poetry', 'gender and poetry', and the representation of women, or gender, in poetry have produced a rich and complex critical and scholarly field. The book looks at the primary and secondary evidence concerning two key elements in the analysis of early modern women's writing, namely, women and the poem. It first explores the way women understood the poem in terms of the reception, influence and adaptation of past models and examples, working from the reception of classical texts. It focuses on the resources women writing poetry knew and encountered in chapters on classical inheritance, the religious sonnet sequence and the secular sonnet sequence. The book then examines the world of reading and readers, and looks at poems in terms of friendships, quarrels, competitions, coteries, networks and critical reception, both then and later. It also emphasises the tales that poems tell, and how those stories both register and shape the understanding of women and the poem in the world of potential readers. In examining women and the poem, the use of women as signifiers and bearers of meaning in poetry is as significant as women's literary production.

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Peter Barry

9.  Poems and pictures This chapter concerns poems which are about an art object. It may be a vase, a piece of sculpture, or, more frequently, a painting or photo­graph, hence the chapter title. This kind of work is now usually called ekphrastic poetry. The word ‘ekphrasis’ is derived from Greek roots, ek, meaning ‘out’, and phrasis, meaning ‘speech’, and hence denotes an act of description, a ‘speaking out’ or speaking plain. It is given to this kind of writing because these poems often begin with something like a description of the object, before going on to

in Reading poetry
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The supernatural and the textual
Janet Hadley Williams

Literature in Older Scots includes a group of poems, mostly anonymous, that employs supernatural phenomena for burlesque or satiric purposes. Aptly called ‘elrich fantasyis’, 1 they include Roule’s ‘Devyne poware of michtis maist’, The Gyre Carling , ‘My gudame wes a gay wyf’, ‘God and Sanct Petir’, ‘The Crying of ane Playe’, Lichtoun’s ‘Quha doutis dremis is bot phantasye?’ and Lord Fergus Gaist . 2 In their ‘comic supernaturalism’ 3 and inventive mixed reference to popular traditions, romances, classical literature, magic, witchcraft and church ritual

in The supernatural in early modern Scotland
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Lee Spinks

The Dainty Monsters Although Ondaatje has won international renown as a novelist, his first four published books were volumes of poetry. The Dainty Monsters , his first book, appeared in 1967, quickly followed by the long poems the man with seven toes (1969) and The Collected Works of Billy the Kid (1970). A fourth volume, Rat Jelly , was published in 1973; six years later Ondaatje made a selection of his poems which appeared under the title There’s a Trick With a Knife I’m Learning to Do . Unlike many

in Michael Ondaatje
Rachel Blau DuPlessis

10 Olson and his Maximus Poems Rachel Blau DuPlessis ‘The advantages of a long poem, is like pot au feu, it creates its own juice [...] Or put it formally:    the long poem creates its own situation.’ (Olson, ‘From Notebook “I ... Sept. 15, 1957’’’)1 Here they are. The Maximus Poems. An ‘Alps’ – that other, American Alps.2 A masterpiece of poesis, particularly for people curious about the workings of a very long poem. For many readers, it exists not in the mode of monument but in the related, equally pertinent mode of midden or ruin. At the end of the book, all

in Contemporary Olson
Ralph Maud

23 Charles Olson’s first poem Ralph Maud ‘Purgatory Blind’ is probably what Charles Olson is referring to in a letter to Robert Creeley as ‘the very 1st po-em’, adding that it was written in Gloucester on the Annisquam River 1 – that is, the early draft (before it got its title), the first six lines of which we have known from George Butterick’s transcription of them, published in his Guide To the Maximus Poems of Charles Olson: Between the river and the sea I sit writing, The Annisquam and the Atlantic My boundaries, and all between The moors of doubt and

in Contemporary Olson
Margret Fetzer

2 Promethean and protean performances – Worldly poems And by these hymnes, all shall approve Us Canoniz’d for Love. (‘The Canonization’, ll. 35–6) Despite almost two hundred years of critical neglect, Donne is nowadays thoroughly ‘Canoniz’d’. His popularity results from his erotic and devotional poetry, but it is the interrelationship between the two genres that makes for Donne’s idiosyncrasy. Hence ‘hymnes’ are to bring about ‘The Canonization’ of two not merely spiritual lovers, who ‘dye and rise the same’ (l. 26). While this may be read as a reference to

in John Donne’s Performances
Author: Anne Woolley

The book considers all of Elizabeth Siddal’s poems in the contemporary critical context of the ongoing retrieval and re-evaluation of nineteenth-century women’s poetry. More significantly, it close reads the texts alongside those of five male authors, Dante Rossetti, Swinburne, Tennyson, Ruskin and Keats, who were either personally known to her or were a source of influence or inspiration. Modern scholarship has tended to include female voices in single-sex anthologies which stress their unique collective contribution but shield them from comparison with the much larger male canon, which denies lesser-known poets like Siddal an augmented critical reception. Association with these ‘greats’ of Victorian and Romantic literature enhances and consolidates her reputation and encourages alternative readings of poems that at first glance can appear slight, self-indulgent and derivative. The work of contemporary female poets, notably Christina Rossetti and Elizabeth Barrett Browning is used to evaluate the distinctive and meritorious nature of Siddal’s oeuvre and all the poems are read with reference to the prevailing social, religious and political contexts that had a bearing on their construction and reception. As Siddal’s poems are very short and ambiguous their initial impression is visual, making the inclusion of certain of her artwork an informative entrée to chapters that consider her poetic dialogue with the interplay of erotic and spiritual love, the ballad tradition, the Romantic conception of the physical and spectral body, and the nineteenth-century ‘woman question’ while reflecting upon the paradoxes and dualisms that pervade her work.

‘In the deed itself ’, or the triple excavation of the unchangeable
Michel Morel

R&G 18_Tonra 01 11/10/2013 17:27 Page 183 18 Howard Barker’s paintings, poems and plays: ‘in the deed itself ’, or the triple excavation of the unchangeable Michel Morel Always the knowledge kills / […] You will starve of their scholarship1 My argument here is that painting, poetry and theatre being three generic means that make one see – painting shows, poetry lays bare and theatre does both through re-presentation on the stage – Barker’s triple creation operates a centripetal triangulation. I will take advantage of this fact to show how the paintings and the

in Howard Barker’s Art of Theatre
Miriam Nichols

1 Myth and document in Charles Olson’s Maximus Poems Miriam Nichols Large in person, sprawling on the page, and epic in ambition, Charles Olson stands in mid-twentieth century American poetry like the diorite stone on Main Street to which he once compared himself (MP, 221). Such bigness and energy have both attracted and repelled readers. Since his death in 1970, Olson has received a number of extended readings from distinguished scholars, and he continues to engage more recent critics. Jeff Wild, for example, opens an essay titled ‘Charles Olson’s Maximus: A

in Contemporary Olson