Studium anglistiky na KAA UPOL

(1.5) New York School

- a loose group of the New York avant-garde pictorial artists, musicians, and poets prominent from 1950s to mid-1960s

- rebelled against the Academic Formalism and the impersonality of T. S. Eliot's Modernism

- in some aspects resembled the Beats, but unlike the Beats rebelled against the cultural rather than political establishment

- influenced by the contemporary American arts, by abstract expressionism in painting, and by avant-garde in musics

- also influenced by the European and especially French avant-garde, by surrealism, dadaism, and similar movements

- inspired by the simple language and prose-like forms of the Modernist poet William Carlos Williams (1883 - 1963) and by the clownish playfulness of Wallace Stevens (1879 - 1955)

- preoccupied with the everyday city life, with the mixing of the high and low culture, and with writing as a creative process with uncertain results

Kenneth Koch (1925 - 2002)

- influenced by the French avant-garde literature, rebelled against traditional literary approaches

- as a literature and creative writing tutor influenced a whole generation of younger poets

- the most witty of the New York School poets, but under the comic surfaces often examines deeper philosophical issues

- produced miniature poems on a small-scale, long epic poems in the Whitmanesque tradition, and brilliant parodies on many classic poets (e.g. "Variations on a Theme by William Carlos Williams")

> "Fresh Air" (1955):

- a grotesque poem rebelling against conservative literary approaches

- features a young radical poet who in vain calls for fresh air for poetry at a Poetry Society meeting

- also introduces the character of the Strangler who is on haunt for bad poets, bids goodbye to the poetry muse in the person of Helen of Troy, and finally calls for a biblical flood to purge the literary scene

> "Permanently" (Permanently, 1961):

- a strikingly original love poem and a meta-linguistic poem playing with the parts of speech

> "Variations on a Theme by William Carlos Williams" (Thank You and Other Poems, 1962):

- a series of four witty variations using the formula of Williams's poem "This is Just to Say"

> "Girl and Baby Florist Sidewalk Pram Nineteen Seventy Something":

- a poem playing with the language of relations, formulating and reformulating them

Frank O'Hara (1926 - 1966)

- actively involved with the New York fine arts scene, acquainted with many artistic personalities of the time

- much of his poetry was published only in 1970s after it was rediscovered in his house after his death

- wrote many casual poems to friends in letters, then lost sight of them

- his Lunch Poems (1964) are called so because he claimed to have typed the poems causally during his lunch breaks

- his poetry seeks to create the effect of painting on canvas

- uses a casual conversational tone

> "A Step Away from Them" (Lunch Poems, 1964):

- the poem follows the speaker's way to have his lunch, his passing by other citizens and watching them from distance, and his return from lunch back to his job

- gives exact place names and exact time information, mentions many details

- focuses on the diversity of New York City and its street life, gives an overview of all the different classes

- merges the high and the low culture (e.g. mentions the premature deaths of his painter friends)

- contains many topical allusions to the 1960s pop culture which are now obscure

- includes sudden switches of topics (e.g. the name of Juliet's Corner reminds him of Frederico Fellini's wife Giulietta)

> "The Day Lady Died" (Lunch Poems, 1964):

- "Day Lady" is the nickname of the famous jazz singer Billie Holiday

- the speaker prepares himself for a formal dinner, walks through the New York streets, and buys presents for the hosts

- the poem gives precise information about time and place, it is 1959 and the dinner is held in Easthampton, formerly a fashionable New York quarter of rich residents, at the time of the poem a famous place for artists to move in

> "Why I am not a Painter" (Oranges: 12 Pastorals, 1969):

- relates poetry and painting, plays on the ambiguity of words and images

- examines the creative process and its often unexplainable digressions

- compares the triggering of subject in creative writing, the initial idea of the subject and the eventual result

- describes the painting "Sardines" by Michael Goldberg (1924 - 2007), the final painting does not include any sardines

- similarly the poems of his poem series called Oranges do not mention oranges at all

- the poem gives the impression of the spontaneous, but it may be a product of calculation (his Oranges were produced much earlier than Goldberg's "Sardines")

John Ashbery (b. 1927)

- in his youth concerned with poetry as much as with music and painting

- influenced by experimental literature, pictorial arts, and music

- rejects the Whitmanesque openly personal mode, remains seemingly outwardly impersonal

- rejects a mimetic representation of reality, his poems reflect the fleeting nature of reality that is impossible to grasp

- the parts of his poems remain rather series of unconnected fragments that are difficult to relate to one another

- plays with surrealism and dream logics, uses unexpected irrational shifts that challenge the meanings of his poems

- experiments with the shifting subject of poetry, with poetry as an unfinished creative process, with using the street language, popular culture, poetic clichés in new meanings, shifting interpretations, etc.

> "Some Trees" (Some Trees, 1956):

- presents the silent, unmoved, monumental graveness of trees

- sees these qualities as sufficiently communicating the fact of their existence

> "The Painter" (Some Trees, 1956):

- struggles with the impossibility of capturing a vast subject within the limited size of the painter's canvas

> "My Philosophy of Life":

- contemplates on how to choose one's life philosophy

- uses a light-hearted non-prescriptive tone, leaves the choice up to the reader

> "Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror" (Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror, 1975):

- compares his vision of reality to a ping-pong ball dancing on the top of a water fountain

> "Paradoxes and Oxymorons" (Shadow Train, 1981):

- a meta-poetical poem on poetry writing and poetry reception by the reader

Základní údaje

  • Předmět

    North American Poetry 1945 - 2002.
  • Semestr

    Zimní semestr 2008/09.
  • Vyučující

    Jiří Flajšar.
  • Status

    Volitelný seminář pro III. blok.


Flajšar, Jiří. Dějiny americké poezie. Ústí nad Orlicí: Oftis, 2006.

Jařab, Josef. American Poetry and Poets of Four Centuries. Praha: SPN, 1989.

Jařab, Josef, ed. Dítě na skleníku. Praha: Odeon, 1989.


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