The many selves of Simic: an interdisciplinary approach to the poetry of Charles Simic ; Tannic acid sweetheart : poems
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Part i of the thesis, The Many Selves of Simic: An Interdisciplinary Approach to the Poetry of Charles Simic, examines various “selves” out of which Charles Simic’s poetry grows: Simic the American poet, Simic the visual artist, Simic the agnostic theologian, and Simic the humorist. By drawing on scholarship from a variety of disciplines, the thesis accounts for numerous contexts and tensions within which Simic’s poetry has developed. Chapter One explores what it means to refer to Simic as an American poet. In the process, it analyzes the meaningfulness of the construct “American poetry” and identifies several of its key features alongside Simic’s own understanding of this tradition. Finally, it delineates the way Simic has grafted himself into the tradition of American poetry. Chapter Two analyzes the centrality of visual art to the way Simic construes the figurative space created by a poem. It connects Simic’s poetry to the work of the American collage and shadow box artist Joseph Cornell and argues that Simic approaches poems as distinctly physical entities that possess spatial extension. Lastly, it compares Simic’s spatial poetics to those of the American poet Charles Olson. Chapter Three analyzes Simic’s fascination with Christian mysticism alongside his perpetual agnosticism. It argues that Simic’s poetic via negativa incorporates aspects of both medieval and deconstructionist postmodern forms of negation. It then compares Simic’s mysticism with that of Charles Wright and Mark Strand. Chapter Four argues that Simic’s “desire for irreverence” provides the center of gravity that holds together his various “selves.” The chapter delineates the various emotional registers of Simic’s work and analyzes them alongside theories of humor. Finally, it considers the various comedic influences on the formal strategies of Simic’s work. Part ii of the thesis, Tannic Acid Sweetheart, consists of my own poems.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: Electronic version restricted indefinitely
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations
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