Only in recent years has W. S. Graham come to be recognised as one of the great poets of the twentieth century. On the peripheries of UK poetry culture during his lifetime, he in many ways appears to us today as exemplary of the poetics of the mid-century: his extension of modernist explorations of rhythm and diction; his interweaving of linguistic and geographic places; his dialogue with the plastic arts; and the tensions that run through his work, between philosophical seriousness and play, between solitude and sociality, regionalism and cosmopolitanism, between the heft and evanescence of poetry’s medium. In the first concerted study of Graham’s poetics in a generation, David Nowell Smith draws on newly unearthed archival materials - poems, manuscripts, and visual/mixed-media work - to orient Graham’s poetics around the question of the ‘art object’. Graham sought throughout his work to craft his poems into honed, finished ‘objects’; yet he was also intensely aware that poems only live when released into their afterlives: the poem’s ‘finished object’ is never wholly finished. Nowell Smith situates this tension with broader debates around literary objecthood and builds up a broader reflection on language as a medium for art-making.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780191925511
ISBN (Print)9780192842909
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jun 2022

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