Lyric resource: Sound technologies and lyric criticality
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This dissertation analyzes recordings and performances of poetry in the postwar period as occasions in which poets engage with the long history and tradition of lyric poetry while revising lyric practice in response to emerging sound technologies. I suggest that the generic profile of "lyric" has been loosened since romanticism, and that lyric in the latter half of the twentieth-century should be considered not as the dramatic performance of interiority, privacy, or social nonengagement, but rather as the intersection of various media vectors and surfaces that constitute the twentieth- and twenty-first century subjective experience. "Lyric Resource" investigates the ways in which technologies of sound recording and transmission bear upon lyric practice. Technologies such as radio, tape, recording studio, record, compact disc, and podcast mean that not only does intertextuality look and sound different in the postwar period, but also that the features of lyric such as apostrophe and ahistoricality function differently in the recorded and distributed lyric poem. This dissertation also considers the ways in which lyric poets critically deploy the cross-cutting unruliness of actual sound in their own social, cultural, and political projects. Beginning with Larry Eigner's engagements with the radio and tape recorder in his work of the 1950s and 1960s, and his recognition of sound's capacity to register bodily particularity, this dissertation goes on to examine the contingent communities evoked in Jayne Cortez's 1970s and 80s-era live and studio recordings with her multi-instrumental jazz and blues ensemble, and Kamau Brathwaite's interactions with the mediated Caribbean soundscape from radio in the 1950s to podcasts in the post-9/11 twenty-first century. The works discussed here all engage with a relatively stable trans-Atlantic lyric tradition as they simultaneously demonstrate the ways in which historically situated sound achieves a critical if heretofore unheard force in relation to late twentieth and early twenty-first century lyric discourse. I examine lyric in an era of hypertrophied technological reproduction; not a lyric that turns from, subverts, or attempts to insulate itself from these technologies, but a lyric that makes use of and responds to proliferating modes of distribution.