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Introduction & Overview of Smart and Final Iris by James Tate

This Study Guide consists of approximately 19 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Smart and Final Iris.
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Smart and Final Iris Summary & Study Guide Description

Smart and Final Iris Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Further Reading on Smart and Final Iris by James Tate.

"Smart and Final Iris" appears in James Tate's collection Reckoner, published in 1986, and is reprinted in his Selected Poems (1991). Though known primarily for his playful, often hallucinatory lyrics in which his speakers stumble about in a world of bizarre characters and events, Tate addresses socio-political subjects in his poems as well, highlighting the ways in which reality is often more absurd and dreamlike than dreams. "Land of Little Sticks, 1945," for example, the opening poem from Constant Defender (1983), mythically depicts the moment when the first atomic bombs were dropped, and suggests that the world will never be the same. Like "Land of Little Sticks, 1945," "Smart and Final Iris" addresses the possibility of nuclear annihilation and the ways in which that possibility affects the human imagination. In twenty short lines, Tate poetically describes the absurdity of the Pentagon's attempt to account for various scenarios resulting from nuclear war. He does this by turning the military's own practice of using silly code names for violent operations and outcomes against itself, in the process showing the insufficiency of language to adequately represent a catastrophe like nuclear war. Tate draws on readers' knowledge of popular culture to write this serious but funny poem.

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Poetry for Students
Smart and Final Iris from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.