Lyric Powers

University of Chicago Press
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The authority of poetry varies from one period to another, from one culture to another. For Robert von Hallberg, the authority of lyric poetry has three sources: religious affirmation, the social institutions of those who speak the idioms from which particular poems are made, and the extraordinary cognition generated by the formal and musical resources of poems. Lyric Powers helps students, poets, and general readers to recognize the pleasures and understand the ambitions of lyric poetry.
To explain why a reader might prefer one kind of poem to another, von Hallberg analyzes—beyond the political and intellectual significance of poems—the musicality of both lyric poetry and popular song, including that of Tin Pan Alley and doo-wop. He shows that poets have distinctive intellectual resources—not just rhetorical resources—for examining their subjects, and that the power of poetic language to generalize, not particularize, is what justly deserves a critic’s attention.
The first book in more than a decade from this respected critic, Lyric Powers will be celebrated as a genuine event by readers of poetry and literary criticism.
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About the author

Robert von Hallberg is the Helen A. Regenstein Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Chicago.
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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Chicago Press
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Published on
May 15, 2009
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Pages
280
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ISBN
9780226865027
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Language
English
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Genres
Literary Criticism / General
Literary Criticism / Poetry
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Peter Balakian is a renowned poet, scholar, and memoirist; but his work as an essayist often prefigures and illuminates all three. "I think of vise and shadow as two dimensions of the lyric (literary and visual) imagination," he writes in the preface to this collection, which brings together essayistic writings produced over the course of twenty-five years. Vise, "as in grabbing and holding with pressure," but also in the sense of the vise-grip of the imagination, which can yield both clarity and knowledge. Consider the vise-grip of some of the poems of our best lyric poets, how language might be put under pressure "as carbon might be put under pressure to create a diamond." And shadow, the second half of the title: both as noun, "the shaded or darker portion of the picture or view or perspective," "partial illumination and partial darkness"; and as verb, to shadow, "to trail secretly as an inseparable companion" or a "force that follows something with fidelity; to cast a dark light on something—a person, an event, an object, a form in nature."

Vise and Shadow draws into conversation such disparate figures as W. B. Yeats, Hart Crane, Joan Didion, Primo Levi, Robert Rauschenberg, Bob Dylan, Elia Kazan, and Arshile Gorky, revealing how the lyric imagination of these artists grips experience, "shadows history," and "casts its own type of illumination," creating one of the deepest kinds of human knowledge and sober truth. In these elegantly written essays, Balakian offers a fresh way to think about the power of poetry, art, and the lyrical imagination as well as history, trauma, and memory.
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