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Speaking Volumes

Pride and Poetry ... And the Humor Within
October 18, 2007 - Robert Leiter, Literary Editor

Big laughs are not the sort of response we immediately associate with most modern poetry. Humor and satire are integral components of some of the great modernist works of fiction -- think James Joyce's Ulysses, Italo Svevo's The Confessions of Zeno, much of Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita and Pale Fire, especially -- even when the overall effect is one of seriousness. But laughs are few and far between in the contemporary poetic canon. Not that there aren't funny poets to be found and funny patches in lots of poems. And there were many skilled light versifiers throughout the course of the 20th century, contemporaneous with the great modernists, though the ranks of these humorous poets decidedly began thinning as the last century wore on.
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