UNCAGING CICADAS: Lover, Beloved, and Reader in Contemporary Love Poetry

Master Thesis


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In this thesis, I read a selection of North American contemporary poets – namely John Ashbery, Anne Carson, Robert Duncan, Craig Dworkin, Robert Kendall, Jackson Mac Low, Romy Achituv and Camille Utterback – in the context of the tradition of love poetry and the overarching critical discourses offered by Erik Gray's. The Art of Love Poetry, Anne Carson's Eros the Bittersweet, and Roland Barthes's A Lover's Discourse. I argue that the lover-poets, in these poems, attempt to overcome what Anne Carson calls the “inevitable […] boundary of flesh and self between [the beloved] and [the lover]” by placing the lover – ontologically and at times physically – in the beloved, then in turn placing the beloved in the lover, each internalizing their other. Additionally, I argue that the lover-poet integrates the reader into the circuit of desire, as subtly as the variable pronoun ‘you' and as brazenly as overt gestures that construe her as an actor in the text and in the affair between the lover and the beloved of the text. The lover-poet draws the reader into his amorous geometry – a triangle of lover, beloved and reader – and into a “dance in which everyone moves” (as Carson writes).