The Noise of Mid-Century Poetry

In her talk, Rebecca Bradburn explores the work of American Marianne Moore, a well-known poet from the high modernist period. During this early stage of the 20th century societies became entrenched in ‘noise’, with urbanisation, industrialisation and radio creating a cacophony of sound. Accordingly, Rebecca explores this context through the medium of Moore’s work, which itself experimented with consequences of this ‘noise’ upon the human experience. Specifically, she highlights Moore’s fascination with the Midge Victrola Gramaphone. To Moore this Gramaphone encapsulated the extraneous noise and sound of the era, with its buzzing feedback reducing her enjoyment of the music. Therefore, Rebecca delves deeper into the way music might structure or pacify noise, situating this within Moore’s poem ‘Baseball and Writing’. Through its use of line rhyme and assonance, this poem mimics an intense overload of auditory stimuli, reflecting Moore’s experience of the Gramaphone and this ‘noisy’ age more generally.  

Rebecca Bradburn

Rebecca Bradburn is a DPhil Candidate at the Faculty of English. Her DPhil examines the manner in which popular music forms a fundamental – as opposed to derivative – refrain of mid-century American poetics, focusing on the work of Marianne Moore, Elizabeth Bishop, Langston Hughes and Cecil Taylor. Considering jazz, blues and hip-hop, Rebecca assesses the way in which music becomes both subject and metaphor, a multimedia interaction which complicates the boundary between page and record sleeve. You can read more about Rebecca Bradburn and her research here.

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