A Poetics of Paradox : Reality and the Imagination in the Meta-Poetry of Louis Dudek
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This thesis examines the poetry and poetics of Louis Dudek, the prolific Canadian poet and critic, in order to elucidate the ways in which he balances competing realist and transcendentalist urges over the course of a career that spans more than sixty years. From his earliest “social-realist” poetry and polemics in the 1940s to his late “transcendental-realist” poems, Dudek displays a consistent interest in the poetic process. Through his self-reflexive poetry or “meta-poetry,” in particular, Dudek begins to unite the seemingly disparate elements of his poetic project into an imaginative, intelligent, and coherent vision of universal significance. In the 1940s, Dudek’s meta-poetry points most clearly to discrepancies between his early “social-realist” poems and First Statement polemics; in the 1950s and 1960s, Dudek’s meta-poetry continues to identify and embrace the paradoxes or tensions that permeate much of his oeuvre; and in his late poetry, Dudek achieves an extraordinary balance between reality and the imagination by transforming Continuation, his final long poem, into a metaphor for the mind of the poet and for the poetic process. Ultimately, Dudek’s poetics of paradox allows him to reaffirm poetry’s ability to create order out of the “chaos” of reality and to draw ever closer to his transcendental vision of “Atlantis,” the “hidden reality” beyond the known and knowable world.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)
CommitteeRoy, Wendy; Martin, Ann; Buschert, William; Hynes, Peter
Copyright DateAugust 2011