Other literary forms

(Poets and Poetry in America)

Although Carl Dennis is one of the most prolific and successful American poets of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, he came relatively late to poetry. His first collection did not appear until he was in his mid-thirties. Before then and after, Dennis, a career academic, published literary criticism in prestigious academic journals. As Dennis’s national reputation as a poet grew, so did interest in his critical writings. He drew on nearly a quarter century of his publications to fashion Poetry as Persuasion (2001). The volume, dealing with writers such as Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, and William Butler Yeats, argued for the importance of voice in a poem, how a poet must define a specific voice to establish an effective intimacy with a reader. The book also offered practical advice for working poets on using irony, point of view, symbols, and rhythm and rhyme in free verse to achieve a resonant and stable voice in a poem.