the ball poem

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Genre/Form /  MediumPoemTitle, Author and Publication details“The Ball Poem”,John Berryman, from the collection of The Dream Songs (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1969)Context of the composer and text1.John Allyn Berryman (originally John Allyn Smith) (Oct. 25, 1914 – Jan. 7, 1972) was an American poet, born in McAlester, Oklahoma. He was a major figure in American poetry in the second half of the 20th century and often considered one of the founders of the Confessional school of poetry. He was the author of The Dream Songs, which are playful, witty, and morose. Berryman's life was dominated by suicide. In 1926, when the poet was twelve, his father, John Smith, a banker in Florida, shot himself. After his father's death, the poet's mother remarried, and thus he came to his new surname of Berryman. The vision of his father's suicide haunted John Berryman's poetic imagination, and the subject is addressed indirectly in the Dream Songs several times and directly once, where the poet wishes that he could kill the corpse of his father. In 1972, Berryman's depression led him to follow the example of his father and to kill himself by jumping from the Washington Avenue Bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He missed the water and died, not by drowning or trauma, but by smothering, according to the Minneapolis Star, which reported his death.2. The poems that form Dream Songs involve a character who is by turns the narrator and the person addressed by a
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narrator. Because readers assumed that these voices were the poet speaking directly of himself, Berryman's poetry was considered part of the Confessional poetry movement. Berryman, however, scorned the idea that he was a Confessional poet. “The Ball Poem” is a poem from The Dream Songs and was written in accordance to his – John Berryman’s, own life. This poem and each other individual poem is lyric and organized around an emotion provoked by an everyday event. “The Ball Poem” involves a “loss” believed to be his father, and also involves suicidal by drowning, in which Berryman attempted in his own ...

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