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‘Getting over our selves’: Elegy and rhetoric in Ted Hughes’s Birthday Letters and Carrie Etter’s Imagined Sons

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Critical analysis of Birthday Letters by Ted Hughes and Imagined Sons by Carrie Etter is illuminated by reading both texts against the rhetorical strategies and conventions of elegy. Birthday Letters and Imagined Sons are engaged in communicating strong feelings of grief following serious losses within lived experience, for which both construct first-person speakers. This article recognizes the presence of the conventions of elegy in both texts and suggests that despite thematic and structural similarities, there are significant differences in the ways the speakers in these texts are configured and how they address their audiences.
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Keywords: Carrie Etter; Ted Hughes; autobiography; elegy; poetry; rhetoric

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2019

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  • The Journal of Writing in Creative Practice is the official organ of the Writing Purposefully in Art and Design (Writing PAD) network. It offers art and design institutions an arena in which to explore and develop the notion of thinking through writing as a parallel to visual discourse in art and design practice. The journal aims to extend the debates to all national and international higher educational art and design institutions.
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