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Democracy, the Environment, and the Future of Imagination
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This is work of serious scholarship, a theory and defense of poetry that at once reveals and revels in the power and beauty of nature-based, descriptive verse. -- Barbara Fisher Boston Globe 20040125 Fletcher foregrounds a distinctly American vision of poetry, placing its roots not in European romanticism but in the works of Emerson and Whitman. He argues, along with Whitman, that poetry is inspired by science and shaped by nature. Fletcher's Americanist perspective does not, however, preclude an understanding of the global impact of poetry and its centrality to the experience of human life in the broadest sense. American Literature 20050601 In A New Theory for American Poetry, Fletcher may not have explained everything about his subject but what he has explained is enough to occupy most minds for a long time. By being so pliant itself, the book bends us with brilliance toward the work of the poets it reads...Many thanks to Fletcher for reshaping our critical posture. -- Andrew DuBois Harvard Review 20050501 The year 2004 saw the publication of some ambitious critical works, perhaps none more so than Angus Fletcher's A New Theory for American Poetry. The work blends criticism with poetics in setting out an account of what Fletcher sees as the distinctive achievements of American poetry, and an argument for how poets might continue to achieve the expression of a sense of "getting along within a population," crafting a democratic "gathering of energies" in order to explore how "we adapt to the environments into which we are thrown by life." It includes detailed critical engagements with poets running from Whitman to the present day. The study of John Ashbery is particularly notable. Year's Work in English Studies 20060101Reseña del editor:
Amid gloomy forecasts of the decline of the humanities and the death of poetry, Angus Fletcher, a wise and dedicated literary voice, sounds a note of powerful, tempered optimism. He lays out a fresh approach to American poetry at large, the first in several decades, expounding a defense of the art that will resonate well into the new century. Breaking with the tired habit of treating American poets as the happy or rebellious children of European romanticism, Fletcher uncovers a distinct lineage for American poetry. His point of departure is the fascinating English writer, John Clare; he then centers on the radically American vision expressed by Emerson and Walt Whitman. With Whitman this book insists that "the whole theory and nature of poetry" needs inspiration from science if it is to achieve a truly democratic vista. Drawing variously on Complexity Theory and on fundamentals of art and grammar, Fletcher argues that our finest poetry is nature-based, environmentally shaped, and descriptive in aim, enabling poets like John Ashbery and other contemporaries to discover a mysterious pragmatism. Intense, resonant, and deeply literary, this account of an American poetics shows how today's consumerist and conformist culture subverts the imagination of a free people. While centering on American vision, the argument extends our horizon, striking a blow against all economically sanctioned attacks upon the finer, stronger human capacities. Poetry, the author maintains, is central to any coherent vision of life.
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