Summer 1988 • Vol. X No. 3 NonfictionJuly 1, 1988 |

Staying News: A Defense of the Lyric

At a time when the world is threatened with nuclear annihilation—as well as regional wars and acts of repression that demand attention—many writers have criticized the self-absorption that has dominated poetry in the last twenty-five years, and have urged their fellows to include greater historical awareness and social empathy in their work. The term "confessional," first used to describe the self-revealing poetry of Lowell, Snodgrass, Berryman, Plath, and Sexton has become—often with justification—pejorative. At the same time, however, all poems with a high emotional content in which the speaker can be identified as the poet are being labeled "confessional," as if all were, willy-nilly, overly subjective. Jonathan Holden, in an essay called "Postmodern Poetic Form: A Theory,"1 describes Louise Glück and Carolyn Forche as confessional poets as a matter of course. Sandra Gilbert in "My Name is Darkness: The Poetry of Self-Definition" calls Yeats a "male confessional poet

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