Creating Another Self: Voice in Modern American Personal Poetry, 2nd Edition

Samuel Maio

This title is OUT OF PRINT.

In this expanded and updated volume, Samuel Maio is definitive and comprehensive in his discussion of American personal poetry.




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In this expanded and updated volume, Samuel Maio is definitive and comprehensive in his discussion of American personal poetry. While broadening the concept of persona to include the first-person speaker, he analyzes representative poets categorized by the aesthetics of voice, demonstrating these poets’ far-reaching influence into the 21st century.

This marvelous study of the various modes of poetic voice in American poetry is truly impressive in its breadth and the conclusions Professor Maio draws from the examination of some of the most important poets of the 20th century—from Robert Lowell to Robert Bly. Maio’s eye and ear never fail him, most particularly in his exegesis of John Berryman and David Ignatow, and his conclusions about who is speaking, and how and why, are at times astonishing, reshaping our perception of poets as diverse as Walt Whitman and Bruce Weigl. Creating Another Self is a kind of creation itself, an eye-opening view of from whence poetry, that sweet bird of youth, springs.

—Lucia Guerra-Cunningham, Professor of Spanish,
University of California, Irvine

This book, brilliant in its original insights, has now been made even more persuasive and immeasurably more valuable by its expansion and Maio’s investigations of the ways that personal poetry, as he describes it, suffuses the work of very recent, contemporary poets, especially Black, Asian-American and Hispanic-American authors, whose work he predicted even before their poems were written.

—Jay Martin, Edward S. Gould Professor of Humanities,
Claremont Graduate University

This expanded second edition includes many recent multicultural poets, but like the original volume, concentrates on technique rather than explication (which comes as a bonus). I appreciate his clarity, his lack of jargon, and his informed discussion, for Maio the critic is an excellent poet as well. I learned from him.

—Peter L. Hays, Professor of English,
University of California, Davis

Samuel Maio makes an excellent case for characterizing autobiographical poetry as yet another literary artifact, governed by the conscious manipulation of the device of persona. In so clearly and concretely explaining and applying his perspective to a wide range of poets and poems, Maio liberates us from seeing personal poems only as some sort of literal, confessional, and thus more authentic truth.

—Brian Bedard, Professor of English,
University of South Dakota




The Poet’s Voice as Persona

The Confessional Mode
Robert Lowell
James Wright
Anne Sexton

The Persona Mode
     John Berryman
Weldon Kees
Galway Kinnell

The Self-Effacing Mode
     Mark Strand
Charles Simic
David Ignatow

Deep Image and the Aesthetics of Self: Robert Bly’s Early Poetry

Personal Poetry in the Twenty-first Century
     Bruce Weigl
Garrett Hongo
Ray González
Martín Espada
Dionisio D. Martínez
Joy Harjo
Yusef Komunyakaa
Felix Stefanile
Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Jim Barnes
Frank Graziano

Works Cited


About the Author


Samuel Maio is professor of English and comparative literature at California State University, San José, where he has been recognized for his scholarship and teaching excellence. Maio’s publications include his poetry collection, The Burning of Los Angeles, and the first edition of Creating Another Self. His essays, poems, and fiction have been published widely in journals including The Antioch Review, The Bloomsbury Review, The New York Quarterly, The Southern California Anthology, and the Chariton Review. He received his Ph.D. in American and Comparative Literature from the University of Southern California.


Concentrating on the method and technique of voice rather than on poets, Maio explores the poet’s voice as persona and analyzes the confessional, persona, and self-effacing modes of a selection of poets.

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