Discuss The Innovative Nature Of The Three Contemporary Poets, Peter Reading,Bernard O'donoghue, And Carol Ann Duffy

1767 words - 7 pages

At the turn of the twentieth century, literary critic Frank Raymond Leavis set the structure by which the ensuing century's poetry would be created when he stated that the job of the poet is to highlight "the most conscious point of the race in his time" (Leavis, in Hopkins, 1997). Poets since then have followed this directive by writing about issues that are pertinent to the time and place in which they are living. As the latter part of the twentieth century, saw a number of major changes in society, so too did the poetry reflect these changes, resulting in the creation of novel and unique poetics.A poet who has charged into the view of the public demanding attention is Peter Reading. Reading takes controversial and unpleasant issues and portrays them as bluntly and dramatically as he can, as he himself has stated "art has always struck me most when it was to do with coping with things, often hard things that are difficult to take" (Kennedy, 1996:120). The "things that are difficult to take" are Readings disturbing observations of his decaying nation of Britain, as well as his "often appalled and appalling vision...of the ways of the homo sapiens" (Jenkins, in Kennedy, 1996:120). Reading's nihilistic and pessimistic view for his country and species is seen in lines from his work Evagatory where he states:England, The Times screwed up in a trash-basket,gliding astern, the Thames, the old prides,end of an era, nation, notion,albion urban, devenustated(one of those routine periodicfaunal extinctions [cf. the Permian]),anthropod aberration (posterity)These lines demonstrate his view that not only is England nearing the "end of a nation", but as he compares it to a mass extinction of the past, it is the end of a species.Not only does the harsh subject matter that Reading deals with set him apart, but so does the manner in which he presents it. He uses very graphic imagery and language by which to convey his point. For instance, in a piece from his work Ukulele Music, Reading answers reviews that his work is "too black", by unflinchingly outlining atrocious events. Using unfeeling language as though writing newspaper headlines, he reports: "five human bits of meat, one faceless limbless female Caucasian,/ shirts, empty briefcases, shoes, fragments of little child's coat/ pieces of movable section of wing of 747/ one piece of human back flesh (in salmon-fishermen's nets)". Towards the end of the poem he mocks the critics by ironically reusing the words of the critics in declaring all of the reports, "Too black and too over the top."Similarly, in a work entitled C, Reading uses a very graphic portrayal of the effects of cancer to demonstrate the abhorrent sickness of the human race. After presenting the reader with a repulsive image, he then mocks the reader with the line, "You find this Limerick inapposite? Try the pretty Choriamb?" As in much of his poetry, Reading not only depicts the degenerating condition of the human race, but is showing that...

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