ERIC Number: ED232196
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1982
Reference Count: N/A
Reasons for Poetry & The Reason for Criticism. Two Lectures Delivered at the Library of Congress on May 7, 1979, and May 5, 1980.
In "The Reason for Poetry," the first of two lectures contained in this booklet, the poet William Meredith argues for a more generous definition of poetry. To move away from the narrow appreciation of poetry as "what I like," Meredith suggests that readers must shift their focus from their own expectations on reading a poem to an understanding of the poet's intentions. He describes the three roles the poet can assume as: dissident--trying to create a ritual for effecting change; apologist--possibly focusing on errors or imperfections in society and human nature, but implying an underlying acceptance of the model; and solitary--establishing intense, though limited, agreement with the reader as individual to individual. Far from being definitive, he argues, these descriptions merely awaken the reader to the infinity of intentions one can allow the poet. He concludes that it is in being generous with the poet that the reader discovers one of the greatest powers of poetry--the power to astonish. In "The Reason for Criticism," the second lecture in the booklet, Meredith advocates a similar generosity of spirit among critics. Using his own poetry and various pieces of criticism, Meredith distinguishes between constructive and destructive criticism. Impressionistic and oblique praise, he suggests, can enlighten a subject critically more effectively than the most attentive destructive act. (MM)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Library of Congress, Washington, DC.