Late Modernism in Manhattan: Mary Barnard and May Swenson

Barnsley, Sarah. 2016. Late Modernism in Manhattan: Mary Barnard and May Swenson. Women: A Cultural Review, 26(3), pp. 254-269. ISSN 0957-4042 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This article maps the poetry of Mary Barnard (1909–2001) and May Swenson (1913–89) in relation to late modernist practice in mid-century New York. Exploring their work with image and rhythm, and their respective engagements with the legacies of Imagism and Objectivism, the article finds that Barnard and Swenson innovated poetry and poetics which took account of the example of Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams and Marianne Moore, while extending their experimentation. If, in the 1940s, some of Barnard's and Swenson's contemporaries felt modernism's rails terminate, this article gives voice to two ‘new’ New York women poets who were quietly yet surely extending the line in exciting, experimental directions while resident in Manhattan. It concludes with a reconsideration of their work and significance in the light of recent developments in modernist studies.

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Identification Number (DOI):


American poetry, Mary Barnard, Imagism, late modernism, modernism, New York, Objectivism, May Swenson

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

English and Comparative Literature


5 February 2016Published
1 October 2015Accepted

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Date Deposited:

06 Feb 2017 12:01

Last Modified:

20 Jul 2018 10:38

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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