Lyric Encounters : Essays on American Poetry from Lazarus and Frost to Ortiz Cofer and Alexie [book]

2013 unpublished
is a collection of single-authored essays that challenges traditional readings of the lyric form as either soliloquy, intrapersonal communication or monologic discourse. Morris organises his book chronologically, devoting each chapter to the interplay of particular characters, artwork or texts to create a dialogue between them. Consequently, the collection benefits from an interdisciplinary approach to poetic interpretation, such that the contextualisation of poems is effected through visual
more » ... , music and prose genres as well as other poems. The lack of formal coherence between pairings-Langston Hughes's "Theme for English B" (1951) and its pedagogical implications, William Carlos Williams's "The Crimson Cyclamen" (1936) and Charles Demuth's eponymous watercolour (1917)(1918), Emma Lazarus's "The New Colossus" (1883) and Judith Ortiz Cofer's "The Latin Deli" (1993)-may seem elusive, despite the fact that the intermedial connection of the poems to other discourses is carefully thought out, thus enriching the critical analysis of the texts. The introduction challenges the lyric as monological discourse. For Morris, it is not a "short poem expressing the thoughts and feelings of a single speaker" (Kennedy and Gioia 2009, 10) nor "the genre of private life" (Vendler 2002, xl), but rather a "social genre" (1) as it strives to make "persons acknowledgeable" to each other (Grossman 1992, 3). If the lyric is read as the monadic expression of a self, the potential neglect of interpersonal aspects can deface the interpretation of the poem. Opposing this approach, the author aims to interpret poems within a wider textual framework. As an example, when comparing Sherman Alexie's understanding of the interpersonal in a poem, Morris intersects it with other texts-including verse, but also novels and articles-in order to historicise and make a case for a dialogic interpretation of the text. Thus, the lyric encounters in the title refer to "poems that represent dialogues between a lyric speaker [...] and another character," but also to "the encounter between lyric poetry and other texts" (4). However valid this approach may be, the book misapprehends close reading
doi:10.5040/9781472543684 fatcat:fhv4yx7vzndd7nsbtqmdps3w4m