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I, the PoetFirst-Person Form in Horace, Catullus, and Propertius$
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Kathleen McCarthy

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781501739552

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501739552.001.0001

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Poetry as Performance

Poetry as Performance

(p.81) Chapter 2 Poetry as Performance
I, the Poet

Kathleen McCarthy

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines the performative model of positioning the agency of the poet in relation to the speech and events depicted in the storyworld. This model hews more closely to the norms established by traditional performed poetry. In this case, the speaker knows that his words have the special status of poetry, and his speech may be formulated with an eye to audiences other than the named interlocutor. In contrast to the speaker of conversational poems, who is focused on trying to exert his will through speech, the speaker in this performative model embodies the mastery of poetic form and the assurance granted to an authorized performer. Poems built on this model are more likely to exhibit formal features that thematize the special status of address or that require suspension of thought or that highlight the poem's overall structure. One can easily see how the agency of such a speaker echoes the agency of the poet crafting the text. The chapter then considers Catullus's invective poems and Horace's hymns and dedicatory poems.

Keywords:   performative poems, poet, performed poetry, first-person speaker, poetic form, Catullus, invective poems, Horace, hymns, dedicatory poems

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