PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
News and Notes
Digital Access to PN Review
Access the latest issues, plus back issues of PN Review with Exact Editions For PN Review subscribers: access the PN Review digital archive via the Exact Editions app Exactly or the Exact Editions website, you will first need to know your PN Review ID number. read more
Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Drew MilneTom Raworth’s Writing ‘present past improved’: Tom Raworth’s Writing
(PN Review 236)
Alejandro Fernandez-OsorioPomace (trans. James Womack)
(PN Review 236)
Kei MillerIn the Shadow of Derek Walcott 1930–2017
(PN Review 235)
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
Oxford University Press
Gratis Ad 1
Next Issue Kei Miller on poetry and volume control Parwana Fayyaz's Afghan poems Gabriel Josipovici bids farewell to Aharon Appelfeld Craig Raine plants a flag A.R. Ammons from two angles

This review is taken from PN Review 217, Volume 40 Number 5, May - June 2014.

Form, Narrative, Nature derek attridge, Moving Words: Forms of English Poetry (Oxford University Press) £35
The Contemporary Narrative Poem: Critical Crosscurrents, edited by Stephen P. Schneider (University of Iowa Press) US$42.50
robin g. schulze, The Degenerate Muse: American Nature, Modernist Poetry and the Problem of Cultural Hygiene (Oxford University Press) £41.99

Working at times toward a critical intersection between linguistics and literary analysis, Moving Words provides an intelligently balanced survey of form in English poetry, and, just as significantly, how an application of this formal analysis might be handled in critical development. Attridge is keen to avoid the critical implications of ‘New Formalism’ or ‘the New Aesthetics’, the former too stifled in its connotations of orderly or proper investigation (all trochaic top button and collar, no heart) and the latter too philosophically convoluted (suffering a Kantian hangover tied to notions of beauty and nature). Unencumbered by tags of critical lineage, he is instead driven to implement a level of attention which, unlike ‘the wooliness which all too often afflicts literary critics’ (p. 12) can restore questions of form, alongside and inseparable from semantics, as an invigorating force of poetic analysis. Rightfully wary of the boredom that is often sadly synonymous with metrical explication, Attridge consciously maintains a welcome level of clarity, avoiding jargon and spiced with plenty of poetic diversity.

Initially we are introduced to ‘Meaning in Movement’, a conceptual opening that becomes integral to realising – more sensitively – precisely how significant a formal approach can be. In addressing notions of ‘phrasal movement’ and repetition, Attridge swiftly demonstrates the manipulation, deferral and momentum with which meaning is communicated. In expressing these rudimentary elements of poetic understanding it becomes readily apparent just how far the currents of critical impulse have drifted from these concerns. While many of the points seem akin to introductory observation, ...

Searching, please wait... animated waiting image