Title page for ETD etd-12132011-132956


Document Type Master's Dissertation
Author Du Plessis, Jeanne Catherine
URN etd-12132011-132956
Document Title Poetry portfolio : Things I’ll never say and Mini-dissertation : The fragmented self : female identity in personal poetry, with particular reference to selected poems by Anne Sexton, Antjie Krog and Finuala Dowling
Degree Master of Arts
Department English
Supervisor
Advisor Name Title
Prof D Medalie Supervisor
Keywords
  • contemporary poets
  • female poets
  • poetry
  • female
  • poems
Date 2011-09-08
Availability unrestricted
Abstract
This mini-dissertation examines selected poems by three female poets who deal with what I have termed ‘the personal’ in relation to specifically female concerns in their poetry, namely Anne Sexton, Antjie Krog and Finuala Dowling. There has been a considerable rise in personal and autobiographical writing in the last few decades, and this trend shows no sign of decreasing.

This kind of writing has provoked much heated debate, both regarding its content and its style(s). Many critics and poets, such as Robert Lowell or James Dickey, disapprove of the frankness with which female poets discuss subjects which are specific to women, and consider the poems to be too graphic or crude. Personal poems which are not graphic are also criticised as being boring, irrelevant or lacking in artistic craft. Those in favour of poetry of the personal, such as Collette Inez and Alicia Ostriker, believe that contemporary poets’ freedom to examine any topic they like is a positive development. Instead of considering these poems to be irrelevant to readers, they believe that personal poetry can be a means for both writers and readers to explore identity and to navigate various female roles.

This mini-dissertation argues in defence of personal poetry, and addresses the common criticisms of this type of writing briefly mentioned above. It highlights women’s issues and questions of female identity throughout. The different ways in which female writers approach personal poetry are also examined, and the mini-dissertation compares the controversial aspects of Sexton’s writing with Krog’s candour and Dowling’s understated humour. Through close textual analysis, the mini-dissertation highlights both similarities and differences in the work of these poets, in support of the value of such poetry for both readers and writers.

The mini-dissertation is accompanied by a portfolio of my own creative work. My poems also fit into the category of female poetry of the personal, so while I do not directly discuss my own work in the mini-dissertation, the portfolio and mini-dissertation are thematically linked.

© 2010, University of Pretoria. All rights reserved. The copyright in this work vests in the University of Pretoria. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the University of Pretoria.

Please cite as follows:

Du Plessis, JC 2010, <Poetry portfolio : Things I’ll never say and Mini-dissertation : The fragmented self : female identity in personal poetry, with particular reference to selected poems by Anne Sexton, Antjie Krog and Finuala Dowling, MA dissertation, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-12132011-132956 / >

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