Schools of Poetry

21 Total Schools of Poetry • Displaying
   

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Confessional Poetry began as one of many artistic movements in post-war twentieth-century America. Its most fundamental aspect is blatant autobiographical content, which often manifests as self-deprecation. It frequently deals with taboo topics such as sex, addiction, mental health and familial relationships. A Confessional Poet’s emotional authenticity draws on personal experiences and real situations, giving “negative” emotions—fear, anger, sadness, impotence—the attention and artistic relevance traditionally reserved for “positive” emotions. Where sonnets are often associated with love, and epics ultimately celebrate strength, Confessional Poetry exposes and intimately handles private, human pains.

Critic M. L. Rosenthal coined the term “Confessional Poetry” in reviewing Robert Lowell’s Life Studies, published in 1959. The term has since been applied to the works of several poets, primarily Lowell, Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath and W. D. Snodgrass. In these four cases, the poets knew each other personally, and some critics argue that their works had common characteristics. However, the Confessional Poetry movement has never formed a cohesive group. Critical debate continues over who can and cannot be considered a “Confessional Poet.” Some argue that Plath does not fit in this category, and Snodgrass rejected the label outright. Though the designation of “Confessional Poet” is rare, the writing of Confessional Poetry continues today.

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The New York poets found themselves wrapped in art, life, and the human condition, which encompasses the individual verses, their environment, themselves, and even bigger questions. Their fascination with modernism allowed them to craft poetry that not only incorporated their own work but the work of artists around them. Ashbery and O’Hara, for instance, were not only poets, but art critics, and created their books of poetry in the style of the art they critiqued. Ashbery does not only identify himself as a poet but as an art critic; furthermore he has even been quoted saying that he does not like to call himself a poet. Readers understand that his works such as Reported Sightings and Pistils show how the two artforms mingle. Similarly, O’Hara wrote a book titled Jackson Pollock, in which he relays biographical information of the artist himself. The New York poets and their deep connection with their own life and influences set them apart. The New York poets differ from other schools of poetry because they rely on urbanism, the dynamics of language, and visual art to influence their writing and seem to have a firm grip on what the realities of life are. 

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Poets known primarily for their involvement in, and writing about, World War I.

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