Author

Arlo Quint

Date of Award

8-2004

Level of Access

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

English

Advisor

Benjamin Friedlander

Second Committee Member

Tony Brinkley

Third Committee Member

Ken Norris

Abstract

Nine New Poets: An Anthology by Arlo Quint is an experimental poetry/poetics project that explores issues of style, form, sincerity, persona, canonmaking, and meaning in modern poetry. Its title gets at the basic form of the project; it is a poetry anthology written by one person. The fictional premise of the anthology is that there are a group of poets hand-making poetry booklets whose only "distribution" is at the Boston Public Library and whose only readership is each other and whoever else might discover the books in the stacks. A librarian discovers this coterie and edits an anthology of their work intended to introduce them to "the outside world." This fictional anthology is the main text of this thesis. The fiction is broken at the end of the anthology, with an afterword by the author. The anthology has been a major tool used in the world of modem poetry in attempts to define what kind of poetry people read. The two most important wouldbe canon makers in modem poetry are Donald Allen and Donald Hall who began what has been called the "battle of the anthologies" in the early 1960's. The terms of this battle are not exact but, in general, Hall's anthology promotes a style of poetry grounded in the New Critical understanding of poetry whereas "the Allen" could be said to promote poetry grounded in styles or theories identified with a few particular locales and poetry movements, namely Black Mountain College, the Beat movement, the New York School, and the San Francisco Renaissance. There is a strong division in contemporary poetry that can be traced back to these competing anthologies. Those that see themselves in the tradition promoted by Allen might accuse the other tradition of using a rhetoric of sincerity or being overly reliant on the lyric I. Those poets that are more in line with Hall's tradition might accuse the other tradition of being cliquish, having no substance, or writing nonsense. This thesis attempts to explore this division in contemporary poetry in its own terms. What might be considered the mark of a poetry clique, their very own anthology, is adopted as a formal device. Within the poetry of this "anthology" the lyric I is used while openly adopting the styles of other poets and the styles of other poets are used as the "substance" of poetry. The personae of the poets are established in prose pieces and interviews as well as the poetry in an attempt to see how a grouping of not just poets butpmonaktie~m ight really function as a formal device. My hope is that this experiment reveals something of the way in which meaning is made in contemporary poetry.

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