Analysis Of James Fenton 's Poem, The Power And Potency Behind His Writing Style

Analysis Of James Fenton 's Poem, The Power And Potency Behind His Writing Style

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James Fenton appeared humble and soft-spoken, his reserved demeanor indicating that his reading style may be similarly withdrawn. Yet, when he began his first peace, it commanded attention. As the reading progressed, his voice grew louder, his spirit stronger and his passion all the more evident. Though he still maintained an almost melodic tranquility throughout his recitation, the power and potency behind his writing was beautifully brought to life through the strength and vigor of his impassioned delivery. Each poem felt profoundly personal, and as he revealed, many of them did stem from intimate experiences that had shaped his outlook. Yet these poems, despite reflecting his individual experiences, were extraordinary in their universality and in their ability to inform the listener about truths not otherwise accessible. Similarly, Fenton’s poems about more thematic or historical topics, despite not having stemmed directly from his own personal history, successfully made each topic an unexpectedly graspable for the listener. Fenton wrought specificity from the symbolic, metaphoric and abstract while invoking those same elements in poems about the particular. Fenton truly demonstrated his mastery over the reading’s central concept, “significant social import,” while still preserving the artistry and subtly of poetry writing.
In his poem “At the Curb,” Fenton attempts to broach a daunting subject for any author: death. In doing so, he risks falling into cliché, trite typicality almost impossible to transcend even for the most gifted writers. Yet somehow, he manages to infuse genuine truth and feeling into this poem. Rather than write a poem blatantly about the unfairness of premature death and the tragic irony of his friend’s i...


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...nse complexity of it’s design and import. Yet, just as he did with the first two poems mentioned, Fenton managed to acknowledge a vast spectrum of human emotion, from aging to young love to being forgotten. Expanding his focus seamlessly using the modest tulip as his medium, Fenton delivered an honest and touching portrayal of existence.
Fenton seemed not to neglect a single aspect of his poems. Many were even more melodic than the three I chose to spotlight, and beautifully utilized rhyme and repetition alongside, as he told us because we could not see, structure. Fenton preserved the delicacy of his prose while still delivering crushing truths about life’s darkest aspects, as seen in “Out of East.” As Andrew Motion so eloquently stated, Fenton’s poetry is “airiness combined with gravity,” and it’s clear he has spent a lifetime learning to strike that balance.


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