The Occasions of Poetry

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Unpublished Paper originally given to a an ESRC seminar on ‘Methods in Dialogue’  in 2005, extensively revised for on line publication.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