Studies in the craft and writing of poetry : a collection

Patrick Duddy


My program during the past year was in two parts. During the first semester I read poetic theory, criticism, and modern poetry. My purpose was to, first, familiarize myself with differing theories of the nature and function of poetry; second, to examine the poetry and ideas of those poets having the greatest import on contemporary verse; and third, to begin to formulate my own theory of poetry. I have attempted to correlate the radical changes in the theories of the nature and function of poetry since the late years of the preceding century with the early 20th century demise of poetry as a popular art, and the more recent revival of interest in contemporary poetry. I have proceeded on the basis of two assumptions. The first is that poetry, as a popular art form in the first half of the 20th century, nearly died with Yeats, despite the brilliant work of Eliot, Pound, Stevens and others. The second is that recent poetry (dating from the mid-50s with the belated discovery of W.C. Williams and the emergence of the Beat poetry), seems to be moving toward a refreshingly new accessibility, and in fact, is re-establishing poetry as a popular art. This semester, I devoted myself entirely to my own creative writing, with supplementary readings in contemporary poetry. Limitations of time forced me to abandon plans to do a series of essays dealing with the material I read during the first semester . But, my poems reflect a degree of sophistication certainly due in large part to those studies, and effectively illustrate the extent to which I have evolved my own style. I have written one essay on Ted Hughes' book Crow. I feel that this book will ultimately be considered one of the most important of recent years, and I found Hughes' work moving in a direction which I feel is the direction poetry must take if it is to remain a vital and popular art-form in the twentieth century. The manuscript that follows is in three parts. The first is a selection of poems, most of which have been written or revised since November of this year. The second part is a long poem, titled "The Mass". Structurally, it follows the Roman Catholic service. The rhythmns also are similar to those of a Latin mass. The third section is the essay on Crow.