Ashland University Professor Publishes Book

Ashland University Professor Publishes Book

9/11/15 ASHLAND, Ohio – Ashland University Professor of English Dr. Deborah Fleming has a new book, titled “Towers of Myth and Stone: Yeats’s Influence on Robinson Jeffers,” that will be published by the University of South Carolina Press. The book will be released Sept. 15.

In this critical study of the influence of W. B. Yeats (1865-1939) on the poetry and drama of Robinson Jeffers (1887-1962), Fleming examines similarities in imagery, landscape, belief in eternal recurrence, use of myth, distrust of rationalism and dedication to tradition.

Although Yeats's and Jeffers's styles differ widely, "Towers of Myth and Stone" examines how the two men shared a vision of modernity, rejected contemporary values in favor of traditions (some of their own making), and created poetry that sought to change those values.

“Jeffers's well-known opposition to modernist poetry forced him for decades to the margins of critical appraisal where he was seen as an eccentric without aesthetic content, yet both Yeats and Jeffers formulated social and poetic philosophies that continue to find relevance in critical and cultural theory,” Fleming said.

Engaging Yeats's work enabled Jeffers to develop a related, though distinct, sense of what themes and subject matter were best suited for poetic endeavor, according to Fleming.

“His connection to Yeats helps to explain the nature of Jeffers's poetry even as it helps to clarify Yeats's influence on those who followed him; moreover, Jeffers's interest in Yeats suggests that critics misunderstand Jeffers if they take his rejection of modernism as exemplified by William Carlos Williams, Wallace Stevens, and Ezra Pound as rejection of contemporary poetry or the process by which modern poetry came into being,” she said.

Fleming, who received her Ph.D. from Ohio State University, serves as editor of the Ashland Poetry Press and teaches creative writing, literature and composition. Her other books have included “Without Leave,” a novel published by Black Mountain Press; “Morning, Winter Solstice,” a collection of poetry published by Vineyard Press; and "A man who does not exist": The Irish Peasant in the Work of W. B. Yeats and J. M. Synge (University of Michigan Press). She received the 2013 Asheville Award from Black Mountain Press, the Vandewater Poetry Award and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Ashland University, ranked in the top 200 colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category for 2016, is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University (www.ashland.edu) values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students.