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Modernisms Influence on Postmodern Poetry

Modernisms Influence on Postmodern Poetry

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Published by Chanin
An analysis of the effects of modernism on postmodern poetry.
An analysis of the effects of modernism on postmodern poetry.

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Published by: Chanin on Apr 16, 2010
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11/30/2012

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Modernisms Influence on Postmodern PoetsAll poetry is connected in some way, shape, or fashion. Through the years, decadesand eras, the structure and form of poems has changed as has the context. By context, it ismeant as the meaning and the portrayal of the meaning of the poem. In early, more structuredtimes, there were meanings on the surface and meanings underlying that were found in theimages, symbols, rhythms, rhymes and actual structure of the poem. In the early 20
th
century,this began to change. The poets began changing their views of their work and sometimebetween 1940 and 1960 the postmodern poets shared their work through what has beencategorized as not only postmodern, but also Black Mountain School, the Beat Generation, andthe New York School. The main fact is that all these poets wrote in similar ways, with disregardto the structure of the formalized poetry of the past. These poets were outspoken and thewritten word was exactly what they wanted the poem to portray. The symbolism is scarce, butnot gone. The in your face attitude makes it easier for all readers to understand the meaningsof the poem composed by these postmodern poets.However, these poets needed to get their initial training and inspiration from somewhere. When the poems are analyzed, it becomes apparent that many of these poets took thelead from the modernist poets, such as Pound, Eliot, and Williams. In fact, several of thepostmodern poets were often compared to their modernist counterparts. So, how do thepostmodernist poets compare to the modernist poets, and how do they differ? Each poet holdstheir own place and the similarities and differences are not just between the past poets and thepostmodern poets, but between these postmodern poets themselves. For while they all write inapproximately the same time frame, they are not as similar and many people would assume.Each faction of postmodernism is a little different and it is these differences that create thepoems that are crude, disconnected, and up front with the issues of the world at the time of thewriting.
 
This essay will follow four postmodernist poets and one modernist poet to explore thesimilarities and differences within their poems, through structure and context. Each of thepostmodern poets fall within the different categories of the period and will be discuss in light of these differences, and have at sometime been compared to and contrasted from the modernistpoet, who is William Carlos Williams (Mattix, 688).Robert Lowell came from a family tree of literary people, but his own family he dislikedand wrote about in very unflattering ways. Much of his early poetry is in regards to the dislikehe had for his family and his poems were more formal and followed more of the rigid rules of poetry. Eventually, he broke from this mold and headed head first in to the postmodernist era,creating freer verses that were often awkward and conflicting. The use of symbols asmetaphors were gone, and the only thing left was the experience through the words of the poemon the page (Ramazani et al, 120).The poem “Grandparents” written in 1959 by Lowell reflects the autobiographicalmemory of grandparents through the eyes of the teenage child at their death. He states theyare “otherworldly” in the very first line of the poem (Ramazani et al, 126) even before their death. They have their rituals and they have their qualms, but the speaker misses these thingsafter their death. Lowell uses blank verse, and the poem is more to be spoken and understoodrather then chanted and reflected upon. There are no hidden meanings in this poem only thememories that are put out there for the reader; nothing is hidden including the emotion of thespeaker as to his inheritance upon their death. He uses the pauses and end stopped lines tocreate conclusions, but not resolutions. One could assume he wrote poetry like he thought,straightforward, and cyclical since the memories start the poem, then the experience of deathand his inheritance, and then back to the memories. Most people would think in this way andLowell shows and writes it as he feels it.The next poet, Robert Creeley, was part of the Black Mountain School facet of thepostmodernism. While many poets are very verbose, Creeley was more worried about the
 
meaning than the articulation of the meaning. He not only put the experiences and emotionsout to the public, but he did it quickly and cleanly, leaving nothing missed. In 1983, Creeleywrote “Mother’s Voice” about the memory of his mother and how those memories bring back thesound of her voice whether he wants to hear it or not. In fact, by the end of the poem, thespeaker realizes that it is not just through memories that his mother’s voice is heard, but in hisown speech he hears remnants of her speech (Ramazani et al, 333). Many people have said“that sounds just like my mother” and that is what this poem is saying to the reader. The childwill take on facets of the mother and in time when the child is older he or she will hear themother’s voice in his or her own.Creeley was not only swift and to the point with his poetry, but used free and blank versewith little rhyme, only incidentally, and a disconnected rhythm that is forced by the lack of caesuras, and pauses. These pauses do occur, but at uncooperative points within the poem,creating a friction that can be related to the friction of the speaker realizing the voice of hismother coming from not only his memories but his own mouth.The Beat Generation can be remembered with coffee houses and the spoken word.Allen Ginsberg was a big part of the Beat Generation along with many others including JackKerouac, and William Burroughs. His poetry is said to create a relationship with the reader causing the emotion and inspiration of the meaning of the poem to be lived by the reader andexperienced, not just heard. Ginsberg did not like the nice neat poems of yesteryear and oftenstated “First thought, best thought” meaning that there were no revisions, just straightforwardthoughts of the poets experiences (Ramazani, 335). Where Creeley was short and sweet,Ginsberg’s poetry was longer and more vivid and delved deeper into the emotion that he wasfeeling and that he wanted to portray to his audience. “Kaddish” was written in 1961 and wasabout the death of Ginsberg’s mother (Ramazani et al, 349). He was close to his mother, andshe fostered the radical side of her son. Her death was hard on Ginsberg, but he allowed hisreaders to feel his loss in this poem. It also accentuates the guilty feelings he had in regards to

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