Abstract and Keywords
‘The View from the USA’ offers readers an overview of trends in American criticism as it has looked east over the course of the last sixty years and more. Contemplated along the way are the many difficulties experienced by US critics attempting to ‘view’ the widescreen of British and Irish poetry, and speculated about at the end are very new situations arising since the 1990s as information and even small press books are exchanged with ever-increasing ease. The picture of post-war poetry has been changing radically as a result; the old story in the US that modern British poetry dead-ended in Philip Larkin’s work, for example, has been discarded for revised ones involving many more players since the war and whole new realms of innovation. But the terms and conditions of such storytelling are still unsettled, and prone to trip at times over disused national projects; the old tendency in the US to think of UK poetry as annexed to cultural decline, for example, and therefore to desperate footholds in ‘continuity’ (like vestiges of lyric) instead of postmodern departure has for too long fuelled American poetry’s sense of itself as forward-looking and in ascendance. But as the new generation of poets and critics in the US move into a ‘post-avant’ era, one defined in part by sudden reconsideration of the lyric, the tables may be turning . . . This essay attempts to illuminate the present moment’s upheavals through recollection of the past’s, and offers one long-term reader’s perspective on today’s resurgence of interest in British and Irish poetry in the US.
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