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     Volume 4 Issue 9 | August 20, 2004 |

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In the World of Poetry

Sanyat Sattar

Sometimes it seems like there are as many definitions of poetry as there are poems. Coleridge defined poetry as "the best words in the best order." St. Augustine called it "the Devil's wine." For Shelley, poetry was "the record of the best and happiest moments of the happiest and best minds."


Modern Poetry and the Idea of Language
Gerald L. Bruns
Dalkey Archive Press; April 2001
ISBN: 1564782697

Here Gerald L. Bruns does something remarkable: he makes accessible the theoretical issues involved in the discussion of language as discourse versus that used in art. On one side, we have the language of Orpheus that seeks to unite poetry and man's experience in the world; and on the other--what Bruns calls the "hermetic tradition"--we have language used purely for literary and artistic ends, as exemplified in the works of Rabelais, Flaubert (his grand ambition was to write a novel about nothing), Joyce, and Beckett. In the process of examining these two contrasting traditions, Bruns manages to provide an illuminating exposition of Russian Formalist theory.


Collected Poems of Syed Khwaja Mainul Hassan
Syed K. M. Hassan
Writers Workshop, Kolkata; June 2003
ISBN: 8181571444

K. M. Hassan, who is teaching now at Claflin University, South Carolina, has been actively working in the world of poetry for a long time and has published a number of volumes before. This time Writers Workshop, Kolkata publishes the compilation of K. M. Hassan's poetry. The poems are taken from Hassan's previous four volumes: Between Barbed Wires, Inner Edge, Ashes and Sparks, Burning the Olive Branch. This compilation has a variety in mood and gesture. The poems here send chills down the spine hone our sensibilities to a scalpel's edge. The poems are modern in flavour and covers love, politics, postcolonial aspects and the poet's personal ideologies and philosophies. At times Hassan sounds like W. B. Yeats, where he celebrates the power of craft to give voice to human vision. The cover of this book is done with handloom sari cloth, which surely has added an extra sophistication to it.

Classes on Modern Poets and the Art of Poetry
Donald J. Griener (Editor)
University of South Carolina Press; March 2004
ISBN: 1570035288

Widely known as the winner of the 1966 National Book Award and author of the best-selling novel Deliverance, James Dickey devoted himself as much to the critique of the modern literary tradition as to his participation in it. In a comprehensive introduction to Dickey's remarks, Donald J. Greiner evaluates the relevance of the writer's often sharply worded opinions. This volume brings to life class sessions planned and delivered soon after Dickey took up full-time residence at the University of South Carolina, in the triumphant years following his rapid succession of honours. Full of asides, witticisms, and afterthoughts, the sessions suggest not the pontification of a scholar at an academic conference but the confident learning of a practicing poet who happens to enjoy being in the classroom. Clearly setting forth his sense of literary criticism, Dickey repeatedly emphasizes the preeminence of the poet over the critic, the original use of language as a primary criterion for effective poetry, and the centrality of personal reaction to poetry as a measure of its value. Dickey's comments are valuable for their insight into both his own thought processes and those of the poets he reviewed, among them William Butler Yeats, Ezra Pound, Dylan Thomas, A. E. Housman, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Robert Frost, Walter de la Mare, and Robert Bridges.









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