In the 1950s, a group of brash young British writers coalesced into a controversial poetic and critical movement known simply as the Movement. In the 1980s, a group of brash young American writers coalesced into an equally controversial poetic and critical movement known as New Formalism. Especially since the British coalition known as The Movement was short-lived, surviving less than a decade, few people could have predicted that it would have an impact that was both far-reaching and long-lasting. This groundbreaking new study shows that the Movement lives on, in a very real way, in New Formalist poetics and poetry.
“In her new book, Theresa Malphrus Welford offers a cogent study of poets separated by an ocean yet connected by sensibility. Through meticulous research, as well as interviews conducted especially for her project, she convincingly demonstrates the Movement’s profound influence on the first wave of New Formalists. Welford navigates the currents of literary history with admirable grace: we learn of Donald Davie’s mentorship of Dana Gioia, Timothy Steele’s early embrace of Thom Gunn, Mark Jarman’s subtle homages to Philip Larkin, and much more. In reconstructing the influence of both movements on poets writing today, Welford has produced an essential critical work that illuminates the productive kinship of two distinct generations and traditions.”—Ned Balbo, author of Galileo’s Banquet
“In Transatlantic Connections, Theresa Malphrus Welford explores the complex, sometimes fraught influence of the Movement on America’s New Formalism—on not just its aesthetics but also its sense of the poet’s ideal role in society. Once marginalized—even reviled—New Formalism has, four decades on, seeped into and transformed American poetry, sparking a renewed interest in meter, rhyme, narrative and received forms, even among primarily free verse poets. Welford persuasively and meticulously demonstrates how a loose affiliation of critically unfashionable British poets left an imprint on contemporary American poetry.”—April Lindner, author of Skin, recipient of the Walt McDonald First Book Prize
“Most laudable in this study of the ties between Britain’s the Movement and America’s New Formalism is Theresa Welford’s sensitivity to the complexity of poetic influence. She convincingly questions the legitimacy of airtight “schools” of poetry then shows how the boundaries between them are more porous than what was commonly thought. This critical study will send readers back to some of their favorite modern and contemporary poets with new eyes.”—Billy Collins, former Poet Laureate of the United States (2001–2003) and author of eleven books of poetry, including The Rain in Portugal, Aimless Love: New and Selected Poems, The Trouble with Poetry, and Picnic, Lightning
“This remarkable book offers a series of insights into a significant—and, until now, largely neglected—transatlantic poetic connection. Theresa Welford offers a convincing demonstration of just how much the New Formalist poets owe to their predecessors in the Movement—and just how intricate and influential were the personal and textual exchanges between them. Her argument is finely nuanced, acknowledging both the similarities and the differences between the American and British groups. Her analyses of individual poems are subtle, sensitive and rigorous; and her argument places the texts and poets she discusses in exactly the right historical and cultural contexts. This is a groundbreaking book about an international poetic dialogue; it will be a vital and indispensable resource for anyone interested in the recent past, present and future of poetry.”—Richard J. Gray, University of Essex Emeritus Professor and author of critical books including A History of American Literature, American Poetry of the Twentieth Century, A Web of Words: The Great Dialogue of Southern Literature, and After the Fall: American Literature Since 9/11.