Robert Bly Discussion Topics

Discussion Topics

(Masterpieces of American Literature)

The titles of Robert Bly’s poems range from the rather general (“Night”) to the overly specific (“After Drinking All Night With a Friend, We Go Out at in a Boat at Dawn To See Who Can Write the Best Poem”). Consider how allusively or specifically Bly introduces his poetic subject matter through titles.

How effectively and compellingly does Bly convey his antiwar beliefs, both in general and specifically about the Vietnam conflict?

Is it disingenuous to suggest that the simple act of writing or reading poetry or prose can result in the psychic healing that Bly attests?

Do the male-centric observations in Iron John and elsewhere have relevance for readers of both genders?

How would Bly’s poetry fare via a Formalist or New Critical reading? What new insights about his work might such a noncontextual reading provide?

How well has Bly articulated the challenges of being a translator of poetry? How much influence from Pablo Neruda or Rainer Maria Rilke is there in the translations and how much Robert Bly?

How does Bly use rhyme, meter, and stanzaic configuration to convey his intended meaning, especially in his earlier poetry?

Are some of Bly’s early observations about the Jungian Mother consistent with his later assertions in Iron John?