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Poetry Genres & Movements and associated Poets (20th & 21st Century)

Learn about different more recent poetry genres and movements, and some of the more famous poets associated with them.
Early-20th century (England and N America) - Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, F. S. Flint, T. E. Hulme, Hilda Doolittle, Amy Lowell. A poetic movement that relied on the resonance of solid images drawn in precise, colloquial language rather than traditional poetic diction and meter. They rejected Romantic and Victorian conventions, favouring precise imagery and clear, non-elevated language.
The Imagists
Early-20th century (N America) - Claude McKay, Alain Locke. An intellectual, social, and artistic explosion involving many African-American writers that took place in New York during the 1920s. The group was characterised by an overt racial pride represented by the idea of the 'New Negro', who through intellect and production of literature, art, and music could challenge the pervading racism and stereotypes to promote progressive or socialist politics, and racial and social integration.
The Harlem Renaissance
Mid-20th century (N America) - Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, Robert Duncan. Post-modernist, progressive poets associated with the Black Mountain College in the US, promoting an open-form (or open-field) approach to poetic composition. This form was based on the line, and each line a unit of breath and of utterance. The content was to consist of "one perception immediately and directly (leading) to a further perception". These poets influenced the course of later American poetry, in particular the Language School.
The Black Mountain Poets
Mid-20th century (N America) - Allen Ginsberg, Herbert Huncke, William S. Burroughs, Lucien Carr, Jack Kerouac. This style of poetry emerged from the disillusionment that followed World War II; and the resulting Cold War - a time of significant geopolitical uncertainty. By the mid-1950s, it helped to spearhead a cultural vanguard reacting against institutionalised American values, materialism, and conformity.
The Beat Generation Poets
Mid-20th century (N America) - Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, John Berryman, Robert Lowell, Allen Ginsberg and W. D. Snodgrass. This genre has been described as poetry of the personal or "I", focusing on extreme moments of individual experience, the psyche, and personal trauma. This included previously, and occasionally still taboo subjects such as mental illness, sexuality, and suicide, often set in relation to broader social themes.
The Confessionalists
Mid-20th century (England) - Kingsley Amis, Philip Larkin, Donald Alfred Davie, D. J. Enright, John Wain, Elizabeth Jennings and Robert Conquest. A literary group of poets considered very much anti-romantic, and to which good poetry meant simple, sensuous content and traditional, conventional and dignified form. Their work was clearly nostalgic, and filled with pastoral images of an eroding way of life as Britain moved further from the rural and more towards the industrial and urban.
The Movement
Mid-20th century (India) - Shakti Chattopadhyay, Malay Roy Choudhury, Samir Roychoudhury, and Subimal Basaka. A literary movement comprising a group of about 40 poets, based in West Bengal during the early 1960s. They baulked against the colonial canons in Bengali poetry and wanted to go back to their roots. The movement contributed significantly to the evolution of the language and idiom used by contemporary Bengali artists to express their feelings.
The Hungry Generation
Mid-late 20th century (UK) - J. H. Prynne, Roy Fisher, Eric Mottram, Tom Raworth, Denise Riley and Lee Harwood. A loose poetry movement active in the 1960s and 1970s. It was a modernist-inspired reaction to The Movement's more conservative approach to British poetry. The genre was a wide-reaching collection of groupings and sub-groupings that embraces performance, sound and concrete poetry.
The British Poetry Revival
Mid-late 20th century (UK) - Christopher Reid, Craig Raine, David Sweetman, Oliver Reynolds. A minor movement in British poetry in the late 1970s and early 1980s, in which everyday things and human behaviour are described in a strange way. It was especially noted for the prominence of curious, exotic, and humorous metaphors, similes, and conceits.
The Martian Poets
Mid-late 20th century (N. America) - Ron Silliman's, Lyn Hejinian's, Barrett Watten, Bob Perelman. This genre was a counter to traditional American poetry in its various forms, including the Black Mountain and New York schools. It developed in part in response to what writers considered the uncritical use of expressive lyric sentiment among earlier poetry movements. These poets' placed emphasis on, and drew the reader's attention to the use of language in the poem, including the idea that it dictates meaning rather than the other way around.
The Language Poets
Late-20th century (China) - Bei Dao, Gu Cheng, Shu Ting, He Dong & Yang Lian. A group of Chinese poets who reacted against the restrictions placed on art and literature during the Cultural Revolution. So named because their work has been officially denounced as "obscure" or "hazy" poetry.
The Misty Poets
Late 20th & early-21st century (N America) - Dana Gioia, X. J. Kennedy, Brad Leithauser and Marilyn Hacker. A movement in American poetry that promotes a return to metrical and rhymed verse. Whilst this genre was seen as a reaction to contemporary poets, it was seen by some as a retrogressive favouring of traditional metrical artifice over more recent, experimental modes of free verse.
The New Formalism