Like a Mason Addressing a Block: Architecture and Design Politics in Geoffrey Hill
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Currently under a temporary indefinite embargo pending publisher permission
Arguing against the notion that contemporary British poetry is either insular or apolitical, this essay takes a new, interdisciplinary approach to the twenty-first century poetic redeployment of European material culture. It takes as a case study the work of the contemporary British poet, Geoffrey Hill. Hill's poetry makes strategic use of the built environment, in order to negotiate both the European cultural inheritance and to foreground its importance in the British poetic imagination. Reinvesting in built structure on the page, Hill’s inter-artistic eye keeps his audience historically and politically attuned to the uses to which stones, tablets and building blocks are used and re-used across the arts (to attract new audience gazes; to both found and bolster artistic reputations). The powerful contribution of Italian, French and German design models to social, rhetorical and moral thought in British poetry have frequently been neglected in scholarship of contemporary British poetics. This essay offers a corrective, focusing on Hill's distinctive contemporary attention to this shared design politics. Hill's work foregrounds the importance of this European influence, and works consciously to redirect the way that contemporary British audiences understand poetry's complex cultural inheritance and its legacy.
This is the author accepted manuscript.
In: Shearsman Companion to Geoffrey Hill