The Occasions of Poetry (text)
This text sets out one possible approach to applying sociological concepts, especially those of Bruno Latour, to understanding trends and traditions in poetry writing. In contrast to the mainstream sociology of literature, which looks to the social content or context of the poem, and/or the social mileu and attitudes of the poet, the focus here is on how the formal properties of the poem are produced and function within a distinctive community of practice, involving both readers and writers in a shared poetics. The text goes on to discuss various ‘schools’ or movements in contemporary poetry and the occasions, both public and private, in which poetry is written, read, recited, or quoted. The text concludes by illustrating its approach through a detailed reading of a poem by John Ashbery.
Unpublished Paper originally given to a an ESRC seminar on ‘Methods in Dialogue’ in 2005, extensively revised for on line publication. Read the full document here: The Occasions of Poetry