"i shall / be in my segments": Dissecting and reassessing Tom Raworth’s Oeuvre and its influences

Thumbnail Image
Cummins, James Hussein
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
University College Cork
Published Version
Research Projects
Organizational Units
Journal Issue
This thesis is the first extended examination of Raworth’s poetry and in order to account for the range of Raworth’s work and associations I have offered detailed close readings of numerous texts while situating his work in the context of a wider poetic and artistic community. Taking into account the range of styles and mediums Raworth uses, this thesis has taken a multifaceted approach, drawing from both scholarship on his poetic peers and on art history so as to offer a broader view of his practice. Much of the critical work which surrounds Raworth concentrates on the formal elements of the poems and the reader’s experience of encountering the texts while failing to either situate Raworth’s practice as part of a wider poetic tradition or to offer sustained readings of the contents of the poems. In order to counter this critical trend I began in chapter one by offering four unique ways in which we might approach reading Raworth’s work. In chapters two and three I concentrated on looking at Raworth’s poetry in relation to contemporaneous works which played a part in shaping Raworth’s thinking. My reason for this was a wish to substantially contextualise the poetry before offering close readings which, as I have argued, are often lacking in Raworth scholarship. In order to offer a more complete overview of Raworth’s work in each of these chapters I have concentrated my discussion of separate phases of Raworth’s oeuvre: in chapter two I focused my discussion on Raworth’s earlier collections while in chapter three I discussed Raworth’s move towards the long poems which he wrote throughout the 1970s and early 1980s. Finally, in chapter four, I looked at the theme of politics and examined how issues of politics and national identity play an integral role in shaping Raworth’s poetry. This multifaceted approach allowed me to avoid using Raworth’s poetry as illustrative of a singular theory and instead to highlight the complexity of the work itself.
Tom Raworth , Poetry , British poetry , innovative poetry , James Cummins , Black Mountain , New York School
Cummins, J. H. 2015. "i shall / be in my segments": Dissecting and reassessing Tom Raworth’s Oeuvre and its influences. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.
Link to publisher’s version