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Sarah Barnsley, ‘Mary Barnard’s “North Window”: Imagism and the Pacific Northwest,’ Western American Literature, 44.3 (Fall 2009), 251-74

Barnsley, Sarah. 2009. Sarah Barnsley, ‘Mary Barnard’s “North Window”: Imagism and the Pacific Northwest,’ Western American Literature, 44.3 (Fall 2009), 251-74. Western American Literature, 44(3), pp. 251-274. [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This essay presents a new interpretation of the poetry and significance of Mary Barnard (1909-2001) through an exploration of the relationship between region and poetic technique. One of the first to articulate the “little known landscape” of the northwest in American poetry, Barnard’s mid-century poetics can be seen as an attempt to refine and forward the Imagist project in order to create what she called a “spare but musical” style focussed, like the work of her friend William Carlos Williams, on her experience of the local.

Centring discussion on “North Window,” one of over two hundred unpublished poems recently recovered and transferred to the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University as part of the newly-established Mary Barnard archive, this essay traces some of the ways in which two particular “little known landscapes” of Barnard’s local shaped her Imagist poetics: the austere sawmill settlements she experienced as a lumber merchant’s daughter, and the desolate, wind-lashed beaches of the Washington Long Beach peninsula where she spent long summers in her youth.

Re-evaluating the charge that Barnard was an “awkward” literary figure to place, I conclude that Barnard’s late Imagism is a vital link in the chain of American poetry considered from a long twentieth-century perspective. The “little known landscape” of Barnard’s poetry of the 1930s and 1940s is, I find, a fine fit with the trajectory of American poetry that descends from Whitman, Pound and Williams, through to Olson and the open form poetry of the 1950s and 1960s.

Item Type:

Article

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

English and Comparative Literature

Dates:

DateEvent
2009Published

Item ID:

6353

Date Deposited:

01 Oct 2012 14:51

Last Modified:

17 Jul 2018 11:28

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.

URI:

http://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/6353

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