While poetry has historically been connected with rhetoric, few rhetoricians have studied contemporary poetry. Jeffery Walker suggests that this is because contemporary poetry, unlike classical poetry, no longer addresses all socio-economic levels of society but has become insular and self-referential (329). He criticizes that poetry no longer cuts vertically across one culture's hierarchy. I agree that poetry no longer addresses all segments of society, but I argue that this doesn't mean poetry is no longer rhetorical. Contemporary poetry now operates horizontally to unite the cultural elite of many national and ethnic groups by appealing to their identity as poetry readers. Using the identification theories of Kenneth Burke and Naomi Marin, the rhetoric in contemporary poetry becomes more apparent. As an example of how contemporary poetry creates identification among the literary elite, I examine the work of Aleš Debeljak—a former Yugoslavian Slovene poet who must define his national identity while appealing to a transnational community of poetry readers. Debeljak's poetry demonstrates the sophisticated work poetry does to create identify and identification.
College and Department
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Hedengren, Mary L., "National Identity Transnational Identification: The City and the Child as Evidence of Identification Among the Poetic Elite" (2010). All Theses and Dissertations. 2063.
Rhetoric, contemporary poetry, Kenneth Burke, Naomi Marin, identification, Jeffery Walker, Aleš Debeljak