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Lyric Cousins

Poetry and Musical Form

Fiona Sampson

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Leading poet, critic and former musician explores the 'deep forms' common to both poetry and music

Today, poetry and art music occupy similar cultural positions: each has a tendency to be regarded as problematic, ‘difficult’ and therefore ‘elitist’. Despite this, the audiences and numbers of participants for each are substantial: yet they tend not to overlap. This is odd, because the forms share early history in song and saga, and have some striking similarities, often summed up in the word ’lyric’.

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Contents

Introduction: A Little Conversation
1. About Time
2. Abstract Form
3. Drawing the Line
4. Chromaticism
5. Density
6. The Meaning of ‘Meaning’
7. Song
8. And Story Came Too: from Epic to Opera
9. Closer Still: the Total Artwork
10. The Consolations of Tradition
11. Radical Measures
12. Performance: the Role of the Audience.

About the Author

Fiona Sampson is Professor of Poetry and Director of Roehampton Poetry Centre, at the University of Roehampton. She is currently the Editor of the journal Poem and from 2005-2012 she was the Editor of Poetry Review. She is a prize-winning poet and former professional musician whose works have been published in more than thirty languages. A Fellow and Council Member of the Royal Society of Literature, Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Fellow of the English Association and Trustee of the Wordsworth Trust, her publications include 24 volumes of poetry, criticism and philosophy of language. She has 12 books in translation, and has received the Zlaten Prsten (Macedonia) and the Charles Angoff Award (US), and been shortlisted for the Evelyn Encelot Prize for European Women Poets. She has received the Newdigate Prize, a Cholmondeley award, a Hawthornden fellowship, Kathleen Blundell and Oppenheimer-John Downes Awards from the Society of Authors, Writer’s Awards from the Arts Councils of England and Wales and various Poetry Book Society commendations, and has been shortlisted twice for both the T.S. Eliot Prize and Forward prizes. Recent books include a new edition of Percy Bysshe Shelley for Faber (PBS Book-club Choice) and a poetry collection, Coleshill (Chatto, PBS Recommendation). The US edition of her selected poems appeared from Sheep Meadow Press in 2013.

Reviews

Described by its author as a "thought experiment", it is evident within a few pages that this book is so much more. Drawing on her rare combination of insights as a poet, critic and musician, as well as her background in health-care, Fiona Sampson has produced a remarkable new work of aesthetics. As creatively inventive as it is critically astute, the connections and insights of this book will be essential reading for anyone concerned with poetry or music, or more broadly with the place and reception of the arts in society.

- Michael Symmons Roberts, Manchester Metropolitan University

In this ambitious and groundbreaking book, Fiona Sampson interrogates the nebulous relationship between poetry and music. Drawing on her professional experience in both disciplines, she succeeds in demystifying and unpicking their many analogous concepts. Her analysis of various song-types reveals insights that are original and compelling.

- Stephen Goss, Chair of Composition and Director of Research, Department of Music and Media, University of Surrey

engaging, beguiling, multifaceted work...

- Adam Hansen, Northumbria University, English: Journal of the English Association Volume 66 Issue 254

In her latest work, Fiona Sampson’s verse is alive to musicality.

- Josephine Balmer, The New Statesman, February 2017

This book confirms 2 things; Fiona’s status as an expert on musicality and poetry and her ability to break up any subject, making it accessible. I would heartily recommend this book as essential reading to anyone, even remotely interested in poetry.

- Katherine Lockton, Southbank Poetry

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