The American Poet at the Movies

A Critical History
Laurence Goldstein
A timely and engaging exploration of cinema's influence on verse--a treat for poetry lovers and film buffs alike

Description

The American Poet at the Movies: A Critical History presents a series of case studies that shows how poets perceived the new technology of cinema as a rival threatening to their prestige, but also as a sister art deserving of encouragement. Each chapter places a key poem at the center and takes up the issues arising from the engagement of these two art forms, such as the poets' mixed feelings about living in a national culture dominated by visual media. Whether it is Hart Crane writing on Chaplin, Delmore Schwartz on Marilyn Monroe, Frank O'Hara on James Dean, or Louise Erdrich on John Wayne, poets have made sense of their own time by reference to film icons and values shared by all Americans thanks to the dream factory, Hollywood.

As an increasingly popular genre of modern poetry, and one that permits a unique view of this century's dominant art form, the movie poem has needed an explanatory book like this one. As cinema and television continue to wield extraordinary influence over the lives of all Americans, the efforts of poets to understand the visual culture will come to be appreciated as central to the task of modern and postmodern literature. This critical history is an important and timely contribution to the study of American literature and American institutions.

Laurence Goldstein is editor of the Michigan Quarterly Review and Professor of English, University of Michigan.

Praise / Awards

  • ". . . a discerning book, combining criticism and social history. It satisfies scholarly standards while appealing to general readers."
    —Philip French, coeditor of the Faber Book of Movie Verse
  • "An alternative history of American poetry in this century. . . . One of the impressive things about the book is that while pursuing the seemingly narrow category of poems-about-movies, Goldstein is able to raise and illuminate virtually all the key issues surrounding the poetry of the period."
    —Roger Gilbert, Cornell University
  • "[Goldstein] believes that this poetry has been a means for serious artists to examine a popular phenomenon and its effects on the culture and themselves. In this work, he provides a new way of looking at American poets, both familiar and neglected. The approach is chronological and thematic, and films are seen from black, gay, Jewish, and feminist as well as middle-class white perspectives. Poems by Hart Crane, Karl Shapiro, Sharon Olds, and Adrienne Rich are among the many examined here."
    Library Journal
  • "A comprehensive and highly readable analysis of the influence of film on the forms, subjects, and themes of modernist poetics. . . . Goldstein asserts that movies can be 'divested of their camp qualities in order to advise readers how to be responsible citizens rather than fans.' In this superb book, Goldstein manages to be both. This provocative and engaging interdisciplinary text is highly recommended to students of film and poetry, and for all libraries."
    Choice
  • "In Laurence Goldstein's fascinating book of essays, The American Poet at the Movies, [many issues are considered] as they relate to poets, poetry, and, by extension, the culture and psychology of twentieth-century America. In the midst of this thorough examination of movie plots, stars, trends, and techniques, as they impress themselves upon, and are made manifest within, the American poetry written since 1917 . . . one begins to grasp the extent to which all literature, our society, the concepts we've held of self, soul, reality, illusion, and even the nature of our dreams, have been permanently, wholly, altered by the art and technology of film."
    Texas Review

Look Inside

Contents

Introduction     3
Chapter 1: An American Millennium: Vachel Lindsay and the Poetics of Stargazing     19
Chapter 2: Hart Crane: Speaking the Mot Juste in the Age of Silents     39
Chapter 3: Cut on Movement: Archibald MacLeish and the Temptations of Cinematic Form     59
Chapter 4: Winfield Townley Scott and Delmore Schwartz: Halving Reality and Watching It Too     83
Intermission: The Day of the Locust as a Rite of Passage     109
Chapter 5: Karl Shapiro, "An American Jew and a Poet": Looking toward New Zion in the Golden State     125
Chapter 6: "The Audience Vanishes": Frank O'Hara and the Mythos of Decline     151
Chapter 7: "The New Poet Is at the Movies": Adrienne Rich and the New Wave     177
Chapter 8: "Mama How Come Black Men Don't Get to Be Heroes?": Colorizing American Experience     201
Chapter 9: Fin de Siecle: Jorie Graham and the Rites of Self-Renewal in a Culture of Film     225
Conclusion: "We're All You Know": Television and Personal History     249
Notes     261
Index     279

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 304pp.
  • 12 B&W photographs.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Paper
  • 1995
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-08318-3

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  • $29.95 U.S.

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Keywords

  • Hart Crane, Charlie Chaplin, Delmore Schwartz, Marilyn Monroe, Frank O'Hara, James Dean, Louise Erdrich, John Wayne, American poetry, American studies, United States, cinema studies, literary criticism, lit crit, modernism, postmodernism

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