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Speaking to YouContemporary Poetry and Public Address$
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Natalie Pollard

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199657001

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199657001.001.0001

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Speaking To You

Speaking To You

Chapter:
(p.41) 1 Speaking To You
Source:
Speaking to You
Author(s):

W. S. Graham

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199657001.003.0002

Chapter 1 focuses on the public nature of W. S. Graham's apparently personal and private uses of addresses to known recipients. Graham's you takes shape as it performs complex negotiations in the political-cultural fray. This chapter argues against those critics of Graham who have complained that his oeuvre is ‘essentially private’, and rethinks the idea that his verse is merely intellectually abstracted, trapped in ‘its own intoxication with language’.Graham's poems and letters are public spaces that co-opt addressees, emphasizing the politics of poetic patronage, even in personal addresses to friends: ‘But this, my boy, is the poem / You paid me five pounds for’. Poetry opens onto the flexible public sphere, an assertion of one's place in the world of writers, readers, artists, critics, reviewers, and publishers. Graham speaks to a host of such figures, including Robin Skelton, Bryan Wynter, Roger Hilton, Peter Lanyon, and Edwin Morgan.

Keywords:   public, address, W. S. Graham, poetry, you

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