American poetry 1945-1990, the anti-tradition

writer’s self-awareness, originality, rise of the mass media, literary magazines, self-publishing, impact of technology
after WWII

confiscation of Allen Ginsberg’s poem Howl
a trial, passionate social criticism, victory encouraged rebellious Beat poets

WW, protest movements of the 1960s, Vietnam conflict, the Cold War
historical background

rhyme or a set metrical pattern, rhetorical diction of obsolete or odd words, many adjectives and inversions

Hollander, Howard, James Merrill, Randall Jarrell, A. R. Ammons, Gwendolyn Brooks (at the beginning), Robert Lowell (at the beginning)
traditionalist authors

James Merrill
self-conscious diction combined with wit, puns and literary allusions, urban themes, unrhymed lines, personal subjects, light conversational tone

Randall Jarrell and A. R. Ammons
intense dialogues between humanity and nature

Gwendolyn Brooks
difficulties of living in urban slums

Robert Lowell
academic writer, jailed for a year as a conscientious objector in WWII, protested the Vietnam conflict, quick changes of tone, atmosphere and speed

Land of Unlikeness, Lord Weary’s Castle, Children of Light, For the Union Dead, Notebook 1967-68
Robert Lowell

Robert Lowell – The Mills of the Kavanaughs (1951)
moving dramatic monologues in which members of his family reveal their tenderness and failings

Robert Lowell – Life Studies
confessional poetry about his most tormenting personal problems, discovered his identity

idiosyncratic poets
developed unique styles drawing on tradition extending it into new realms with a distinctively contemporary flavor

John Berryman, Theodore Roethke, Richard Hugo, Philip Leivne, James Dickey, Elizabeth Bishop, Adrienne Rich, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton
idiosyncratic poets

Sylvia Plath – The Bell Jar (1963)
psychological problems, some of them from her sense of repressive attitude towards women

Ariel (1965)
Sylvia Plath

Anne Sexton
female topics (childbearing, female body, marriage from a woman’s point of view)

To Bedlam and Part Way Back, Live or Die, The Awful Rowing Toward God (1975)
Anne Sexton

John Berryman
inspired by early American history, self-critical confessional poems, children’s rhymes, clichés, slang

John Berryman – Dream Songs (1969)
reflections on his own teaching routine, chronic alcoholism and ambition

Theodore Roethke
special language evoking the greenhouse world

Theodore Roethke – Words for the Wind
celebrates beauty and desire with innocent passion

Richard Hugo
nostalgic confessional poems in bold iambics, shabby forgotten small towns, shame, failure

Phillip Levine
economic sufferings of workers through observation, rage and irony

James Dickey
agony of war, revitalizing contact with the world, sexuality, nature

Deliverance, Selected Poems, Poems
James Dickey

Elizabeth Bishop
descriptive style, hidden philosophical depth

The Roofwalker
Adrienne Rich

experimental poetry
poets divided into five loose schools, bohemian, diassociated from universites, criticized American society, shocking, serch for new values, spontaneous

The Black Mountain School
centered around Black Mountain College, experimental liberal art college

Ed Dorn, Joel Oppenheimer, Jonathan Williams, Robert Creeley,…
The Black Mountain School

The San Francisco School
influence of the Orient, eastern philosophy, religion and poetry, deep feeling for nature; simple, accessible, optimistic poetry

Jack Spicer, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Robert Duncan, Phil Whalen, Lew Welch, Gary Synder, Kenneth Rexroth, Joanne Kyger
The San Francisco School

Beat Poets
emerged from the San Francisco School in the 1950s, jazz, eastern religion and wandering, wild, improvisational style, rejection of authority and convention, oral and repetitive poems, developed out of poetry readings in underground clubs

Jack Kerouac – On the Road (1957)
an account of a 1947 cross-country car trip

Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs
Beat Poets

Allen Ginsberg
the chief spokesperson of Beat Poets

Howl (1956)
Allen Ginsberg

A Coney Island of the Mind (1958)
Lawrence Ferlinghetti

American Poetry in the Twentieth Century (1971)
Gregory Corso

the New York School
not interested in overly moral questions, clear of political issues, fast-moving poems, incongruity, abstract expressionism

John Ashbery
The New York School

Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror (1975)
John Ashbery

Surrealism and Existentialism
unconscious through vivid dreamlike imagery


S. Merwin, Robert Bly, Charles Simic, Charles Wright, Mark Strand

surrealism and existenialism

literature standards in most countries overlooked women’s contributions, work shaped by political, regional and racial differences
women poets and feminism

Betty Friedan, Kate Millett, Elaine Showalter, S. Gubar, S. Gilbert, Amy Clampitt, Rita Dove, Louise Gluck, Jorie Graham, Carolyn Kizer, Maxine Kumin, Denise Levertov, audre Lorde,..


women poets

androgynous ideal
before 1960s

urge for equal rights for women, National Organisation for Women in 1966
after 1960s

The Feminine Mystique
Betty Friedan

Sexual Politics (1969)
Kate Millett

Literature of Their Own (1977)
Elaine Showalter

The Madwoman in the Attic (1979), The Norton Anthology of Literature by Women (1985)
S. Gubar, S. Gilbert

Amy Lowell
brought Chinese and French poetry motives and translations, celebrated love, nature

multiethnic poets
second half of the 20th century until 21st century – renaissance in multiethnic literature, from 1960s rise of ethnic authors, 1970s universities fund ethnic programmes, 1980s academic journals

Gaty Soto, Alberto Rios, Lorna Dee Cervantes, Rudolfo Anaya, Rodolfo Gonzales
Latino and Chicano writers

Chicano poetry
corrido form, mix of English and Spanish, oral tradition

Am Joaquin
Rodolfo Gonzales

Native American writers
fine poetry, vivid evocations of nature, mystic themes on loss of their heritage

Leslie Marmon Silko, Simon Ortiz, Louse Edrich, Roberta Hill Whiteman
Native American writers

Simon Ortiz
Pueblo origin, hard-hitting poems on history, reflect injustice done to the Native Americans

Leslie Marmon Silko
Pueblo, lyrical poems, traditional stores, colloquial language

In Cold Storm Light
Leslie Marmon Silko

Star Quilt
Roberta Hill Whiteman

Family Reunion
Louise Erdrich

Amiri Baraka, Michael S.

Harper, Rita Dove, Maya Angelou, Ishmael Reed, Adure Lorde

African American writers

African American writers
extremely diverse, developed ethnic writing

Amiri Baraka
best-known African American poet of the 60s and 70s, active in politics

Rita Dove – Thomas and Beulah (1986)
showed the rich inner lives of poor people

Michael S. Harper
allusive poems dealing with street life, war

Clan Meeting: Births and Nations: A Blood Song
Michael S. Harper

Adure Lorde

Cathy Song, Lason Inado, Janice Mirikitani, Frank Chin, Maxine Hong Kingston
Asian American

Asian American
emphasis on Pacific Rim and women’s writing, stereotype of being exotic and good immigrants, zen, Chinese Opera

Frank Chin
iconoclastic posture

Maxine Hong Kingston, Janice Mirikitani
traditional writers, evoke Japanese-American history

Picture Bride, Vegetable Air
Cathy Song

the Language School
stretch language to reveal its potential for ambiguity, fragmentation and self-assertion with chaos

Bruce Andrews, Lyn Hejinian, Bob Perelman, Brett Watten
the Language School

David Antin
poetry with emphasis on voice

Max Low
a visual statement using typography

New Formalists
return to form, rhyme and meter

Formal School
accused of returning to the 19th century themes, draw contemporary images along with musical lanaguages and traditional closed forms