Intimate Exposure

Essays on the Public-Private Divide in British Poetry Since 1950

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About the Book

The ever-shifting boundaries of the public and private spheres have exerted strong, though often subtle, pressures on modern life. This collection of 14 critical essays analyzes how British poetry has interacted with the public-private divide since the middle of the twentieth century. In their approach to this central but contested aspect of modern life, the essays suggest new ways not only of approaching a poem but of thinking about what gives a poem its linguistic, textual, and performative singularity. The collection discusses a wide range of poets, including Tony Harrison, Seamus Heaney, Geoffrey Hill, and Ted Hughes.

About the Author(s)

Former English professor Emily Taylor Merriman lives in Amherst, Massachusetts.
Adrian Grafe is a professor of English at Artois University in France. He was an associate professor at the Sorbonne for 10 years, has published broadly on poetry, and was named a Fellow of the English Association in 2011.

Bibliographic Details

Emily Taylor Merriman and Adrian Grafe
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 237
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2010
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4221-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      v
Introduction
Adrian Grafe and Emily Taylor Merriman      1

I. STATING THE CASE
1. Poetry as “Open Diagnosis”
Marc Porée      13

II. STRICTLY PUBLIC?
2. Public Faces in Private Places: Messianic Privacy in Cambridge Poetry
Robert Archambeau      31
3. Ted Hughes as Poet Laureate: The Beast and the Sovereign
Laurel Peacock      43
4. R.S. Thomas: Poet of the Threshold
Daniel Szabo      54
5. Performing, Transforming, and Changing the Question: Patience Agbabi—Poet Enough!
Catherine Murphy      67
6. Strictly Private? Stephen Romer’s “Les Portes de la Nuit”
Adrian Grafe      85

III. HEANEY AND THE PRIVATENESS OF THE HUMAN CONDITION
7. Joseph Brodsky and Seamus Heaney in the Birch Grove of Art
Daniella Jancsó      101
8. “We men … must vanish”—Heaney’s Wordsworth: Toward the Configuration of an Event Form
Pascale Guibert      112
9. “Imagined within the gravitational pull of the actual”: The Fusion of the Private and the Public in Seamus Heaney’s Poetics
Torsten Caeners      130

IV. THE NORTH, THE NATION, AND THE PUBLIC-PRIVATE DIVIDE
10. “Inwardness” and the “quest for a public poetry” in the works of Tony Harrison
Cécile Marshall      147
11. Private Voice and Public Discourse: A Poetics of Northern Dialect
Claire Hélie      160
12. Public or Private Nation: Poetic Form and National Consciousness in the Poetry of Tony Harrison and Geoffrey Hill
Carole Birkan-Berz      174
13. Geoffrey Hill: “A public nuisance”
Emily Taylor Merriman      191

V. TAKING STOCK : FROM PERSONAL ENCOUNTER TO RITUAL
14. The Public Intimacy of the Poetry of Sorrow
Catherine Phillips      209

About the Contributors      221
Index      225

Book Reviews & Awards

“recommended”—Choice.