How a poem tells a story, and the importance of narrative as core of a poem's body and key to its soul
Mark Jarman, author of the narrative poem Iris and the lyric sequence Unholy Sonnets, is a poet associated with the revival of narrative and traditional form in contemporary American poetry. In Body and Soul he considers poetry from the Renaissance to the present in essays that touch on the importance of religion, place, and personal experience to poetry and reflect Jarman's particular interests. His focus is on the relationship between lyric and narrative, song and story, in poems of all kinds. He considers the poem as a record of both body and soul, and examines his own life, in an extended autobiographical essay, as a source for the stories he has told in his poetry.
The essays "Where Poems Take Place" and "A Shared Humanity" consider the relation between setting or situation and representation. The psychological roots of narrative are considered in "The Primal Storyteller." But the main interest of these essays is how and why narrative is used as a form. The influence of Robinson Jeffers's style of narrative is argued in "Slip, Shift, and Speed Up: The Influence of Robinson Jeffers's Narrative Syntax." In "The Trace of a Story Line" an argument is made that the poets Philip Levine and Charles Wright employ narration or storytelling in their poetry as a mode of meaning. Other essays consider Donald Davie, Philip Larkin, Herbert Lomas, Louis Simpson, Lyn Hejinian, Tess Gallagher, and Ellen Bryant Voigt.
Mark Jarman's poetry has appeared in many publications, including the American Poetry Review and the New Yorker. He has won the Lenore Marshall/Nation Prize of the Academy of American Poets, a Guggenheim fellowship, and multiple grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. He is Professor of English, Vanderbilt University.
Mark Jarman has won the Lenore Marshall/Nation Prize of the Academy of American Poets, a Guggenheim fellowship, and multiple grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, and is Professor of English at Vanderbilt University.