Amy Lowell Analysis

Other literary forms

(Poets and Poetry in America)

ph_0111215254-Lowell_A.jpg Amy Lowell Published by Salem Press, Inc.

In addition to collections of poetry, Amy Lowell published translations, criticism, and a literary biography. Her output was prodigious, fourteen of her books being published within a thirteen-year span. In addition, she wrote numerous essays and reviews and kept up an active correspondence, much of it concerning literature. Lowell edited a three-volume anthology of Imagist poetry: Some Imagist Poets (1915, 1916, 1917). Her three critical works were Six French Poets: Studies in Contemporary Literature (1915), essays drawn from her lectures on the post-Symbolist poets; Tendencies in Modern American Poetry (1917), essays also drawn from lectures on contemporary poetry and six poets in particular, including two Imagists; and Poetry and Poets (1930), essays compiled from her lectures and published posthumously. Although she did other translations (of operettas and verse dramas), Lowell’s only published translations, with the exception of those in the appendix to Six French Poets, were those in Fir-Flower Tablets (1921), a collection of ancient Chinese poetry done in collaboration with Florence Ayscough. Lowell’s monumental two-volume biography, John Keats, appeared in 1925, shortly before her death. A sampling of Lowell’s letters can be found in Florence Ayscough and Amy Lowell: Correspondence of a Friendship (1945).


(Poets and Poetry in America)

During her lifetime, Amy Lowell was one of the best-known modern American poets. This reputation had as much to do with Lowell the person and literary spokesperson as with Lowell the poet, though her work was certainly esteemed. In 1926, What’s O’Clock won the Pulitzer Prize in poetry. In the twenty-first century, her place in literary history as a whole is still to be determined, but her importance in the limited field of early twentieth century American letters is undisputed.

In her day, as F. Cudworth Flint has said, both Lowell and poetry were “news.” Between 1914 and 1925, she spoke out for Imagism,free verse, and the “New Poetry” more frequently, energetically, and combatively than any of its other promoters or practitioners. She took on all comers in Boston, New York, Chicago, and any other city where she was invited to speak. “Poetry Society” meetings were often the best show in town when Lowell was on the platform. In 1924, she was awarded the Levinson Prize from Poetry magazine.

Lowell’s art probably suffered as a result of her taking on the role of promoter as well as producer of the new poetry, but she unquestionably helped to open the way for younger poets among her contemporaries and for free expression and experimentation in poetic form and theme. T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land (1922), which Lowell did not admire, might not have had such an immediate impact on the development of...

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(Poets and Poetry in America)

Benvenuto, Richard. Amy Lowell. Boston: Twayne, 1985. Aims to give a fair and detailed reading of Lowell’s poetry to suggest the strengths and limitations of her art as well as to acquaint the reader with poems that, in Benvenuto’s opinion, should not be neglected any longer. Besides being an erratic and uneven writer, Lowell was, Benvenuto argues, one of the most important literary figures of her time. Includes an annotated bibliography.

Flint, F. Cudworth. Amy Lowell. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1969. This brief pamphlet devoted to Lowell’s life and work contains useful information about her participation in the Imagist movement. Addresses the question of how Lowell was able to achieve what Flint calls a “para-literary” eminence so quickly. Contains a bibliography.

Galvin, Mary E. Queer Poetics: Five Modernist Women Writers. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1999. In an exploration of the relationship between poetics and queer theory, Galvin presents a theoretical framework that can illuminate the reading of the specific poetic innovations of the writers in this study by placing them in a different social and epistemological context—that of “queer” existence.

Gould, Jean. Amy: The World of Amy Lowell and the Imagist Movement. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1975. This lengthy...

(The entire section is 456 words.)