American Comic Poetry

History, Techniques and Modern Masters


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SKU: 9780786499847 Categories: , , , ,

About the Book

Comic poetry is serious stuff, combining incongruity, satire and psychological effects to provide us a brief victory over reason—which could help us save ourselves, if not the world. This book champions the literary movement of comic poetry in the U.S., providing an historical context and exploring the work of such writers as Denise Duhamel, Campbell McGrath, Billy Collins, Thomas Lux and Tony Hoagland. Their techniques reveal how they make us laugh while addressing important social concerns.

Instructors considering this book for use in a course may request an examination copy here.

About the Author(s)

Jeff Morgan is a professor of English at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, and the author of four books, numerous essays and poems. He lives in Boynton Beach, Florida.

Bibliographic Details

Jeff Morgan

Foreword by Michael Hettich

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 196
Bibliographic Info: bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2015
pISBN: 978-0-7864-9984-7
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2346-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi
Foreword: The Best of All Medicines by Michael Hettich 1
Preface 5
Introduction 9
The Intellectual Approach 11
The Functional Approach 13
The Psychological Approach 14

1. A Brief History of American Comic Literature 17
Colonial and ­Pre-Colonial American Comic Literature 17
The Revolting Period 20
Early ­Post-Colonial Era 27
James Russell Lowell 30
The Flowering of the Comic Voice 44
Early ­Twentieth Century 52
Dorothy Parker 53
Ogden Nash 72
Late Twentieth Century 89
2. The Long and Short of It 92
Denise Duhamel, Comic Prose Poetry and the ­Three-Pronged Approach 92
Campbell McGrath’s “Ode to Bureacrats” and the ­Three-Pronged Approach 100
3. Billy Collins and the Intellectual Approach 109
4. Thomas Lux and the Functional Approach 135
5. Tony Hoagland and the Psychological Approach 158

Conclusion 175
Bibliography 179
Index 183

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Morgan’s witty prose explores the origins of comic poetry in America. [It]intersperses history with scholarship and provides a detailed account of American comic poetry…. Morgan produces a very well-crafted and approachable analysis of American comic poetry for both comic enthusiasts and beginners”—Journal of the American Studies Association of Texas (JASAT)
  • “Morgan successfully demonstrates how popular humor is rooted in American poetic tradition in an accessible way, proving accessibility is essential to comedy as well as any lasting art.”—Brad Johnson, The Happiness Theory
  • “This analysis is also historical beginning with the early Americans like Franklin, Freneau and Barlow. Using his own bits of humor, he finds in each comedy that others might overlook.”—Mike Reed, University of Texas Rio Grand Valley
  • “Morgan strikes an ideal balance between humorous appreciation and poetic analysis. His insights are revealing and fresh. What a pleasure to encounter these poets through Morgan’s perspective!” —Diane Allerdyce, Whatever It Is I Was Giving Up and House of Aching Beauty.