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AMERICAN EPIC: ON PATERSON

ByCiarán O'RourkeBeir Bua Press

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About Ciarán O'Rourke A winner of the Cúirt New Irish Writing Award, the Fish Poetry Prize, and the Westport Poetry Prize, Ciarán O'Rourke is an Irish poet, currently based in Galway. His first collection, The Buried Breath, was issued by The Irish Pages Press in 2018, and highly commended by the Forward Foundation the following year. His pamphlet, Glass Life, was published as a Ragpicker Edition in 2021.He completed his PhD on William Carlos Williams in 2019, and is founder and editor of the online archive of poetry-themed interviews, www.islandsedge poetry.net. His second collection, Phantom Gang, is forthcoming from The Irish Pages Press. “The only human value of anything, writing included, is intense vision of the facts.” – William Carlos Williams After a number of years getting to grips with the poetry of William Carlos Williams, and a considerable portion of that time devoted to his mid-century modernist epic, Paterson, I thought it would be exciting to take another extended glance at that noisy, sprawling, and fierce late work. This essay, in eight sections, is the result. Sometimes critical, the discussion that follows nevertheless was largely written in a spirit of tribute and exploration. I try to give due acknowledgement to Paterson’s formal complexity and range, to make sense of its volatile and thrilling shifts in register and tone, to highlight its political and discursive concerns (and limitations), and to clarify the often audacious, roaming radicalism of Williams’s social perspectives as projected in the poem. Although exerting a profound influence on writers as far-flung as Charles Olson, Allen Ginsberg, Louis Zukofsky, and Robert Lowell, Paterson seems less the focus of critical attention and debate today than other semi-contemporaneous, long-form works, such as Ezra Pound’s Cantos or Olson’s Maximus Poems. In some ways, Williams’s now stands as a neglected epic, while the poet himself tends to be remembered, if at all, for ‘post-it’ pieces, in the style of “This Is Just To Say”. Marvellous as the latter fragment is, my aim here is to re-balance that reception and understanding, in a small way. My wider hope is that the enthusiasm I continue to feel for Williams’s work and literary importance shines through.

Details

Publication Date
May 5, 2022
Language
English
ISBN
9781914972430
Category
Poetry
Copyright
All Rights Reserved - Standard Copyright License
Contributors
By (author): Ciarán O'Rourke, Edited by: Beir Bua Press, Cover design or artwork by: Michelle Moloney King

Specifications

Pages
64
Binding
Paperback
Interior Color
Black & White
Dimensions
A5 (5.83 x 8.27 in / 148 x 210 mm)

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