Part 1: Thesis : 'True receivers' : Rilke and the contemporary poetics of listening ; Part 2: Poems : Small weather
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Part 1: ‘True Receivers’: Rilke and the Contemporary Poetics of Listening In this part of this thesis I argue that a contemporary ‘poetics of listening’ has emerged in the UK, and explore the writing of three of our most significant poets - John Burnside, Kathleen Jamie and Don Paterson - to find out why they have become interested in the idea of the poet as a ‘listener’. I suggest that the appeal of this listening stance accounts for their engagement with the poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke, who thought of himself as a listening ‘receiver’; it is proposed that Rilke’s notion of ‘receivership’ and the way his poems relate to the earthly (or the ‘non-human’) also account for the general ‘intensification’ of interest in his work. An exploration of the shifting status of listening provides context for this study, and I pay particular attention to the way innovations in audio and communications technology influenced Rilke’s late sequences the Duino Elegies and The Sonnets to Orpheus. A connection is made between Rilke’s ‘listening poetics’ and the ‘listening’ stance of Ted Hughes and Edward Thomas; this establishes a ‘listening lineage’ for the contemporary poets considered in the thesis. I also suggest that there are intriguing similarities between the ideas of listening that are emerging in contemporary poetics and Hélène Cixous’ concept of ‘écriture féminine’. Exploring these similarities helps us to understand the implications of the stance of the poet-listener, which is a counter to the idea that as a writer you must ‘find your voice’. Finally, it is proposed that ‘a poetics of listening’ would benefit from an enriched taxonomy. Part 2 of the thesis is a collection of my poems entitled ‘Small Weather’.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: 2025-08-14
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Print and electronic copy restricted until 14th August 2025
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