Examination of Postmodern Poetry

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Fanny Howe’s poem “When I was a child” contains several similarities to Dickinson’s work. Howe’s piece transcends Dickinson’s style in her compressed sentences and metaphysical narrative. The condensed form in which the poem is written is a style first seen in Dickinson’s writing. The theme of the metaphysical world is present in Howe’s poem such as in the line “I left my body to look for one” (805).

Howe presents her poems as “meditations on matter and spirit” (801). She intends to explore both “the mysteries of interior life and the weight of the material world” (801). These ideas are similar to Dickinson’s theme of her inner world. However, Howe does not emphasize death and dread to the extent of Dickinson. She embodies the postmodernist rejection of the “Modernist despair and sense of tragic loss”.

The Norton Anthology accurately summarizes Charles Simic’s poems as able to “haunt the mind long after one has read them” (759). He has a flair for the bizarre, absurd, and disturbing. In his poem “Fork”, he is able to “suggest philosophical questions through the most particular and even ordinary things” such as a fork (759). He is able to turn a fork into a violent weapon “right out of hell” (759). His childhood spent in Yugoslavia during the violence of World War II can be attributed to his absurd writing. He wrote that after what he and his family went through that “the wildest lies seemed plausible and the poems that [he] was going to write had to take that into account” (758).

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