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The Alvarez GenerationThom Gunn, Geoffrey Hill, Ted Hughes, Sylvia Plath, and Peter Porter$
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William Wootten

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781789627947

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789627947.001.0001

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‘I Don’t Like Dramatizing Myself’

‘I Don’t Like Dramatizing Myself’

(p.181) Chapter Thirteen ‘I Don’t Like Dramatizing Myself’
The Alvarez Generation

William Wootten

Liverpool University Press

This chapter considers the poetry of Thom Gunn. While discussing ‘The Gas Poker’ a poem from his last volume, 2000's Boss Cupid, Gunn remarked: ‘I don't like dramatizing myself. I don't want to be Sylvia Plath. The last person I want to be!’ The chapter examines the reasons behind this remark. It looks at ‘Expression’, a poem from his 1982 collection The Passages of Joy, suggesting that the lack of expression emanating from its mother and son has its correlative in the lack of direct expression in Gunn's verse of his relationship to his mother and to the manner of her death. Following a surfeit of histrionic emotionalism and suicide in early life, Gunn had little cause to seek it out in art and sought a mentor who would make poetic theory and practice a bulwark against them.

Keywords:   Thom Gunn, poets, poetry, poems, Sylvia Plath, The Gas Poker, Expression, suicide

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