Sep/Oct 2017 • Vol. XXXIX No. 5 The Hybrid Lyric |

Introduction: The Hybrid Lyric

Absolute purity does not exist in poetry—not in form, rhetoric, image, or any other poetic component. Of course. The simple relation of subject to predicate imposes a narrative complication on the dream of any lyric aspiration. Purity exists more as an imagined endpoint on the continuum, the sliding scale, running from purity to—what?—complexity, plurality, hybridity. I realize, too, that "the hybrid" is an overworked commodity in the literary marketplace these days. We have branded the hybrid novel and the hybrid essay; or when we aren't using the word "hybrid" itself, we brandish such salable concepts as creative nonfiction (shouldn't an essay always be creative?), the lyric essay, narrative nonfiction, flash fiction, docu-poetry, and many more. These are useful categories, to be sure, but we should remember that they are neither newly innovative nor particularly new. In fact, seventy-four years ago Robert Penn Warren attended to the hybrid in his term "pure and impure po

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David Baker is the author or editor of many books of poetry and criticism. His latest collection of poems, Whale Fall, was published by W. W. Norton in July 2022. Baker taught at Kenyon 1983–84 and began a long association with The Kenyon Review then, including service for more than twenty-five years as poetry editor. He continues to curate the magazine’s annual environmental feature, “Nature’s Nature.” Baker is emeritus professor of English at Denison University, in Granville, Ohio, where he offers two classes each spring semester.

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By Gabrielle Calvocoressi

Absolute purity does not exist in poetry—not in form, rhetoric, image, or any other poetic component. Of course. The simple relation of subject to predicate imposes a narrative complication on […]

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