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Confessional Poetry Question

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fivesixseven
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since 05-06-2009
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0 posted 05-06-2009 02:51 PM       View Profile for fivesixseven   Email fivesixseven   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for fivesixseven


Hello all! Good day. I have been hearing a lot about the confessional poetry movement and I was just looking for people's opinion about a couple of things. I am kind of just confused as to why it is important that poetry students should study it? My english teacher said that it was important but didn't really go into detail about it and that was my last class with her! I mean did rival poets like it? or just like the general public? It seems like there would be a lot of mixed feelings concerning it. Just some food for thought =]
Bob K
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since 11-03-2007
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1 posted 05-07-2009 07:27 PM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K


Hello all! Good day. I have been hearing a lot about the confessional poetry movement and I was just looking for people's opinion about a couple of things. I am kind of just confused as to why it is important that poetry students should study it? My english teacher said that it was important but didn't really go into detail about it and that was my last class with her! I mean did rival poets like it? or just like the general public? It seems like there would be a lot of mixed feelings concerning it. Just some food for thought =]

Dear 567,

          Before there there are students of poetry, there are readers of poetry.  If you don't like to read it or hear it read, studying it seems sort of painful, doesn't it?

     I'd suggest that rather than worrying about the abstractions you bring up here and they are worthy abstractions, mind you you might first try reading some of these folks.  Better yet, if you can get recordings of them reading their own stuff, or other people reading them out loud, you'll get a much better idea of what this is all about.  Most poetry was written to be read out loud, and this business of reading it silently to yourself is only a recent invention and not a terribly good one.

     If you can find W.D.Snodgrass's "April Inventory," it's a good place to start.  Sylvia Plath's "Daddy" should knock your socks off.  There are loads and loads of others.  Try reading them out loud.  Don't be ashamed to ham it up.  These folks were ironic, and angry and often very funny and many of them weren't afraid to poke fun at themselves or at others.  Some poems will only make sense to people who've been around the block a few times.  

     You should know that calling a poet "Confessional" is misleading.  Mostly "confessional" poets were supposed to be poets of the 50's and 60's who wrote about themselves and their lives in an honest fashion.  I think that you'll find folks trying to write honestly about themselves and their lives as long as people have been writing poetry, including poetry who were included in the Greek anthology, and quite a few Roman poets, including Catullus.

     You'll find poets who aren't included under the Rubric "confessional" writing poetry that's fully as personal as anything written by the confessionals.  Allan Ginsberg and Frank O'Hara, neither of whom are considered confessional poets have written stuff that's at least as open.

     Try reading Snodgrass and Plath first, and see what you think with Snodgrass, try the early Stuff ; with Plath there is only early stuff.  Let me know if you find something worth following up on.

Sincerely, Bob Kaven    
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