Date of Degree
English Language and Literature
This dissertation argues that there is a clear gay poetic tradition dating back to nineteenth century Europe, and it describes an historical taxonomy for gay poetry in America since 1945 by reference to its characteristic themes, influences and leading figures. After a brief discussion of early precursors such as Paul Verlaine, Arthur Rimbaud, Walt Whitman, C. P. Cavafy, Hart Crane, Langston Hughes and W. H. Auden, the dissertation traces, through close explication of texts, the works of Harold Norse, Allen Ginsberg, Tennessee Williams, Frank O'Hara, Adrian Stanford, Richard Howard, Alfred Corn and Essex Hemphill. The influences on such poets of the San Francisco Renaissance, the Stonewall Rebellion of 1969, the women's movement, the proliferation of small gay presses, AIDS activism and queer theory are considered. An argument is made for a separate gay esthetic and poetic, and its development is traced from the late nineteenth century to the end of the twentieth. The influence of pre-World War II homosexual poets on post-World War II gay poets is discussed, as well as the crucial emergence of a gay urbanity and a gay intelligentsia. Bloom's "anxiety of influence," issues of marginality, the representation of masculinity and homoeroticism, Bakhtin's theory of the carnivalesque (specifically in relation to AIDS literature), and the poetry of multiculturalism, are explored as well for the purpose of establishing the extensive literary, critical and theoretical intertextuality of gay poetic works.
Holland, Walter Ralph, "The Calamus Root: American Gay Poetry Since World War II" (1998). CUNY Academic Works.