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Poetry Guide: Deep Image

Deep image is a term coined by Jerome Rothenberg and Robert Kelly in the second issue of Trobar, and was used to describe poetry written by him and by Robert Kelly, Diane Wakoski and Clayton Eshleman.

In creating the term, Rothenberg was inspired by the Spanish canto jondo (deep song), especially the work of Federico Garcia Lorca and by the symbolist theory of correspondences.

In general, deep image poems are resonant, stylised and heroic in tone. Longer poems tend to be catalogues of free-standing images.

The deep image group was short-lived in the manner that Kelly and Rothenberg used.

It was later redeveloped by Robert Bly and used by many, such as Galway Kinnel and James Wright. The redevelopment relied on being concrete, not abstract, and to let the images make the experience and to let the images and experience generate the meanings. This new style of Deep Image tended to be narrative, but was often lyrical.