Stephen Fredman asserts in his work that American poetry is groundless - that each generation of American poets faces the problem of identity anew and has to discover fresh meaning for itself. His argument focuses on four pairs of poets - Eliot/Williams, Thoreau/Olson, Emerson/Duncan and Whitman/Creeley - and points out that although the later ones all were influenced by their predecessors to some extent, ultimately their poetry is, paradoxically, grounded in an essential groundlessness. In order to demonstrate how approaches to groundlessness have persisted over time, Fredman explores the various measures taken by these American poets to provide a provisional ground upon which to construct their poetry: inventing idiosyncratic traditions, forming poetic communities, engaging in polemical prose, assessing all the dimensions of particular places and treating words as emblematic and mysterious objects. At the very core of the book stands Charles Olson, whose work so dramatically articulates the whole range of issues arising from the American poet's anxious search for and resistance t, an authentic and unified tradition.
Cambridge University Press
Date of Publication
Cambridge Studies in American Literature and Culture