978-0-395-40422-5 / 9780395404225

Selected Poems: 1965-1975


Publisher:Houghton Mifflin



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About the book:

Atwood's work as a poet raises an important question on the role of poetry within discourse - whether we choose to see (and write and read) verse as a constitutive or destructive act. Or, to put it differently, whether the act of writing poetry is fundamentally foundational or critical in its nature. Obviously the two categories are not mutually exclusive and there is space for both types of poetry in any literary scene. And Atwood would be the first to warn us against adopting such a dichotomy as a universal or ultimate reading key for all verse (some of her own work, such as the Journals, has constitutive aspects as well). But the joyful bombing of established institutions such as society's discourses on love, history and art, as well as those of poetry and language in general, is so powerful in Poems 1965-1975 that one can almost hear the temples crumbling. In this sense, Atwood's poetry is very different from her prose, which is more orthodox and frequently less subtle - and this may be the greatest ignis fatuus in the fact that her novels are so much more famous; they only show the 'positive' Atwood, the Atwood with the clearer rhetorical registers and the political and social activism, the Atwood who is adolescent-friendly, the Atwood of cosmetic prose and lulling narratives, of the careful architecture drawn by characters around their story. the beast of destruction is all in the poems - The irony of Atwood's selection of a title as simple as Poems is that the word 'poetry' originally derives from 'creating.' So her title means 'Acts of creation,' but there is undoubtedly an element in her practice which destroys as well - destroys, and steamrolls, and puts to the torch, and does this all without the slightest hint of mercy. this, or the more 'creative' verse, is the kind of poetry you prefer will be for you to say. Whether anyone did it better than Margaret Atwood in the last century, probably not many.

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