8.07.2016

Art of Language



The Art of Language: Selected Essays
by Kenneth Cox
Edited with an introduction by Jenny Penberthy
Flood Editions, 2016.
ISBN 978-0-9903407-7-5 $17.95

This volume gathers twenty-four essays by the English critic Kenneth Cox (1916–2005) on various writers, including James Joyce, Ezra Pound, Basil Bunting, Louis Zukofsky, and Lorine Niedecker. In each case, Cox’s exposition proves rigorous, idiosyncratic, drily passionate, and full of keen insights. Always, he proceeds with an “emphasis on literature as the art of language.”

“I have learned more from Kenneth Cox’s essays than from any other living critic of twentieth-century poetry. He writes with masterly directness about the masters of indirection, and his summarizing power rivals that of Samuel Johnson.”
Thom Gunn

“As pure writing—literature, if you will—his essays deserve to be read and reread as one would those of William Hazlitt or Joseph Mitchell. They refresh and delight. They are a tonic for the mind and are best approached in the morning hours; one’s entire day will be the better for it. Meanwhile, as proposition, explication, and argument of any given text, they are without equal.”
August Kleinzahler, from his afterword

7.16.2016

Sweet Theft



Sweet Theft
A Poet's Commonplace Book
by J.D. McClatchy
Counterpoint Press, 2016

List Price: $25.
ISBN 9781619027138

Centuries ago, when books were rare, those who owned them would lend them to friends, who in turn would copy out passages they especially liked before returning the precious book to its owner. These anthologies came to be known as Commonplace Books, and modern writers as different as W. H. Auden and Alec Guinness have kept them as well, recording phrases or passages that struck them as wise or witty or quirky. The result is as much the self-portrait of a sensibility as it is a collection of miscellaneous delights. Renowned poet J. D. McClatchy has been keeping such a book for three decades now. This selection from it offers a unique look into what strange facts, what turns of mind or phrase, what glorious feats of language and nature can attract the attention of a poet.

6.26.2016

Hatred of Poetry



The Hatred of Poetry
by Ben Lerner

Farrar, Straus and Giroux
FSG Originals
2016
ISBN: 9780865478206
$ 12.00

In this inventive and lucid essay, Lerner takes the hatred of poetry as the starting point of his defense of the art. He examines poetry's greatest haters (beginning with Plato's famous claim that an ideal city had no place for poets, who would only corrupt and mislead the young) and both its greatest and worst practitioners, providing inspired close readings of Keats, Dickinson, McGonagall, Whitman, and others. Throughout, he attempts to explain the noble failure at the heart of every truly great and truly horrible poem: the impulse to launch the experience of an individual into a timeless communal existence. In The Hatred of Poetry, Lerner has crafted an entertaining, personal, and entirely original examination of a vocation no less essential for being impossible.

6.12.2016

Road Not Taken



The Road Not Taken: Finding America in the Poem Everyone Loves and Almost Everyone Gets Wrong

by David Orr

Penguin Press (2015)
ISBN-10: 1594205833
ISBN-13: 978-1594205835

A cultural “biography” of Robert Frost’s beloved poem, arguably the most popular piece of literature written by an American
“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood . . .”

One hundred years after its first publication in August 1915, Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken” is so ubiquitous that it’s easy to forget that it is, in fact, a poem. Yet poetry it is, and Frost’s immortal lines remain unbelievably popular. And yet in spite of this devotion, almost everyone gets the poem hopelessly wrong.
David Orr’s The Road Not Taken dives directly into the controversy, illuminating the poem’s enduring greatness while revealing its mystifying contradictions.

Widely admired as the poetry columnist for The New York Times Book Review, Orr is the perfect guide for lay readers and experts alike. Orr offers a lively look at the poem’s cultural influence, its artistic complexity, and its historical journey from the margins of the First World War all the way to its canonical place today as a true masterpiece of American literatu

4.21.2016

Whole Harmonium



The Whole Harmonium

The Life of Wallace Stevens
By Paul Mariani

A perceptive, enlightening biography of one the most important American poets of the twentieth century—Wallace Stevens—as seen through his lifelong quest to find and describe the sublime in the human experience.

Wallace Stevens lived a richly imaginative life that found expression in his poetry. His philosophical questioning, spiritual depth, and brilliantly inventive use of language would be profound influences on poets as diverse as William Carlos Williams, Hart Crane, Elizabeth Bishop, and John Ashbery. The Whole Harmonium presents Stevens within the living context of his times, as well as the creator of a poetry which has had a profound and lasting impact on the modern imagination itself.

2.25.2016

How Poems Think



HOW POEMS THINK

by Reginald Gibbons
University of Chicago Press
208 pages | 1 line drawing | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 2015

To write or read a poem is often to think in distinctively poetic ways—guided by metaphors, sound, rhythms, associative movement, and more. Poetry’s stance toward language creates a particular intelligence of thought and feeling, a compressed articulation that expands inner experience, imagining with words what cannot always be imagined without them. Through translation, poetry has diversified poetic traditions, and some of poetry’s ways of thinking begin in the ancient world and remain potent even now. In How Poems Think, Reginald Gibbons presents a rich gallery of poetic inventiveness and continuity drawn from a wide range of poets—Sappho, Pindar, Shakespeare, Keats, William Carlos Williams, Marina Tsvetaeva, Gwendolyn Brooks, and many others. Gibbons explores poetic temperament, rhyme, metonymy, etymology, and other elements of poetry as modes of thinking and feeling. In celebration and homage, Gibbons attunes us to the possibilities of poetic thinking.

2.05.2016

Anything That Burns You



ANYTHING THAT BURNS YOU : A PORTRAIT OF LOLA RIDGE, RADICAL POET

By Terese Svoboda

Anything That Burns You is the first full-length biography of Lola Ridge, a trailblazer for women, poetry, and human rights. Terese Svoboda takes the reader on a fascinating journey that follows Ridge's life from her childhood as an Irish immigrant in the mining towns of New Zealand to her years as a budding poet and artist in Australia, and then to San Francisco, Chicago, and New York, where she flourished as a poet and editor of the avant-garde journals Others and Broom. By the 1920s, Ridge was at the center of modernism: good friends with William Carlos Williams and Marianne Moore, while promoting the careers of Hart Crane and Jean Toomer, in addition to writing brilliant socially critical poems. At one time considered one of the most popular poets of her day, Ridge later fell out of critical favor due to her impassioned verse that looked head-on at the major social woes of society, infused with a radical belief in freedom that she gleaned from her mentors Emma Goldman and Margaret Sanger. Certain to revive the legacy of this unique artistic figure-as unforgettable as Virginia Woolf or Frida Kahlo-this lively portrait gives a veritable who's who of all the key players in the arts, literature, and radical politics of her time, in which Lola Ridge stood front and center.

To learn more about the author, visit http://www.teresesvoboda.com/

1.20.2016

Letter Machine Book of Interviews



The Letter Machine Book of Interviews
by Cristiana Baik and Andy Fitch

LETTER MACHINE EDITIONS - 2015
isbn 97809887137412015
paperback $20.00

Featuring interviews with Rosa Alcalá, Anselm Berrigan, Edmund Berrigan, Julie Carr, Danielle Dutton, Renee Gladman, Sarah Gridley, Paul Hoover, Aaron Kunin, Dorothea Lasky, Juliana Leslie, Dawn Lundy Martin, Farid Matuk, Fred Moten, Jennifer Moxley, Sawako Nakayasu, Hoa Nguyen, Travis Nichols, Peter O'Leary, John Olson, Andrea Rexilius, Abraham Smith, Sasha Steensen, Donna Stonecipher, Sara Veglahn, & Tyrone Williams.

1.05.2016

Reckoning with the Imagination


Reckoning with the Imagination
Wittgenstein and the Aesthetics of Literary Experience

Charles Altieri
Cornell University Press, 2015
Hardcover - $79.95
Paperback - $28.95

Much current theorizing about literature involves efforts to renew our sense of aesthetic values in reading. Such is the case with new formalism as well as recent appeals to the notion of “surface reading.” While sympathetic to these efforts, Charles Altieri believes they ultimately fall short because too often they fail to account for the values that engage literary texts in the social world. In Reckoning with the Imagination, Altieri argues for a reconsideration of the Kantian tradition of Idealist ethics, which he believes can restore much of the power of the arguments for the role of aesthetics in art. Altieri finds a perspective for that restoration in a reading of Wittgenstein’s later work that stresses Wittgenstein’s parallel criticisms of the spirit of empiricism.

1.02.2016

On Elizabeth Bishop



On Elizabeth Bishop
Colm Tóibín

Princeton U. Press | 2015 | $19.95
ISBN: 9780691154114
224 pp.

In this book, novelist Colm Tóibín offers a deeply personal introduction to the work and life of one of his most important literary influences—the American poet Elizabeth Bishop. Ranging across her poetry, prose, letters, and biography, Tóibín creates a vivid picture of Bishop while also revealing how her work has helped shape his sensibility as a novelist and how her experiences of loss and exile resonate with his own. What emerges is a compelling double portrait that will intrigue readers interested in both Bishop and Tóibín.

12.28.2015

A Long High Whistle



A Long High Whistle
by David Biespiel
Antilever Press, 2015
$14.95 softcover/245 pp

A Long High Whistle discusses the work of nearly a hundred poets from ancient times to the present, in English and in translation—among them Catullus, Ovid, John Keats, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, W. B.
Yeats, Osip Mandelstam, Robert Hayden, Muriel Rukeyser, Pablo Neruda, Elizabeth Bishop, Seamus Heaney, Tomas Tranströmer, Inger Christensen, Natasha Trethewey, and many others. This collection will provide anyone, from the beginning poet to the mature writer to the lover of literature, with insights into what inspires poets, how poems are written and read, and how poetry situates itself in American life.

12.14.2015

Sparks from the Anvil



Sparks from the Anvil
The Smith College Poetry Interviews
Christian McEwen, ed.

Bauhan Publishing LLC, 2015 • 300 pp. 6 x 9"
Literary Collections - American / Poetry Criticism
$25.00 Paperback, 978-0-87233-194-5

Sparks from the Anvil: The Smith College Poetry Interviews is a collection of discussions with contemporary poets, ranging from established elders like W.S. Merwin and Maxine Kumin to dazzling newcomers like Aracelis Girmay and the Dickman brothers, Matthew and Michael. In conversation with Christian McEwen, they describe their habitual writing practice, influences, and development, as well as their sense of the American poetry scene, and whatever else comes up in the course of a long, thoughtful, richly meandering exchange.

The sixteen interviewed poets are: Annie Boutelle, Matthew Dickman, Michael Dickman, Patrick Donnelly, Rita Dove, Nikky Finney, Aracelis Girmay, Edward Hirsch, Jane Hirshfield, Yusef Komunyakaa, Maxine Kumin, Gwyneth Lewis, W.S. Merwin, Patricia Smith, Chase Twichell, Jean Valentine.

9.13.2015

Ocean, the Bird, and the Scholar


The Ocean, the Bird, and the Scholar
Essays on Poets and Poetry

HARVARD UNIVERSITY PRESS
$35.00 Hardcover
ISBN 9780674736566
Publication: May 2015

One of our foremost commentators on poetry examines the work of a broad range of nineteenth- and twentieth-century English, Irish, and American poets. The Ocean, the Bird, and the Scholar gathers two decades’ worth of Helen Vendler’s essays, book reviews, and occasional prose—including the 2004 Jefferson Lecture—in a single volume. Taken together, they serve as a reminder that if the arts and the patina of culture they cast over the world were deleted, we would, in Wallace Stevens’s memorable formulation, inhabit “a geography of the dead.” These essays also remind us that without the enthusiasm, critiques, and books of each century’s scholars, there would be imperfect perpetuation and transmission of culture.

All of the modern poets who have long preoccupied Vendler—Wallace Stevens, Seamus Heaney, John Ashbery, and Jorie Graham—are fully represented, as well as others, including Langston Hughes, Allen Ginsberg, Robert Lowell, Elizabeth Bishop, Amy Clampitt, James Merrill, A. R. Ammons, and Mark Ford. And Vendler reaches back into the poetic tradition, tracing the influence of Keats, Yeats, Whitman, T. S. Eliot, and others in the work of today’s poets. As ever, her readings help to clarify the imaginative novelty of poems, giving us a rich sense not only of their formal aspects but also of the passions underlying their linguistic and structural invention. The Ocean, the Bird, and the Scholar is an eloquent plea for the centrality, both in humanistic study and modern culture, of poetry’s beautiful, subversive, sustaining, and demanding legacy.

8.02.2015

Poems and Their Making


Poems and Their Making: A Conversation
Moderated by Philip Brady

Etruscan Press, 2015
Price:$23.95

Poems and Their Making is a collection of original poems and essays by a diverse cast of inter-connected contemporary American poets, delving into the origin and development of poetic thought, line, and structure. Each poem is followed by an essay by the poet illustrative of some particular issue in craft and theory raised during the poem’s making. While exploring the mysterious process of making poems, Poems and Their Making offers a ground’s eye view of the variety of current poetic practices, and nurtures a dialogue between poetry and critical prose.

7.03.2015

One Wide Expanse



One Wide Expanse
by Michael Longley

The Poet's Chair: Writings from the Ireland Chair of Poetry
University College Dublin Press
Publication date: 11th June 2015
ISBN-13: 9781906359898
Discount Price: €18.00

In this volume, the distinguished Irish poet Michael Longley - whose poetry has transcended political and cultural boundaries throughout his career - reflects on what has influenced his craft. Longley opens with an 'autobiography in poetry' where he recounts the poets and poems that have influenced him as both a reader and writer of poetry. He discusses his intimate relationship with Derek Mahon and Seamus Heaney along with other poets from around the world.The second lecture explores how influential the classical literatures of Greece and Rome have been on English poetry, highlighting how he has used these literatures in his own work, often to portray the Troubles in his native Northern Ireland. Longley closes with a very personal discussion of the influence that the west of Ireland has had on his poetry, his life, and his 'spiritual education'. The poet's love of nature and the environment shines through and extracts from his poems portray his deep understanding of the West. This illuminating volume gives readers a rare insight into the creative process of one of Ireland's leading contemporary poets who was Ireland Professor of Poetry from 2007 to 2010.

5.20.2015

James Merrill: Life and Art


James Merrill
Life and Art
By Langdon Hammer

Langdon Hammer has given us the first biography of the poet James Merrill (1926–95), whose life is surely one of the most fascinating in American literature. Merrill was born to high privilege and high expectations as the son of Charles Merrill, the charismatic cofounder of the brokerage firm Merrill Lynch, and Hellen Ingram, a muse, ally, and antagonist throughout her son’s life. Wounded by his parents’ bitter divorce, he was the child of a broken home, looking for repair in poetry and love. This is the story of a young man escaping, yet also reenacting, the energies and obsessions of those powerful parents. It is the story of a gay man inventing his identity against the grain of American society during the eras of the closet, gay liberation, and AIDS. Above all, it is the story of a brilliantly gifted, fiercely dedicated poet working every day to turn his life into art.

3.31.2015

Poetry Notebook


Poetry Notebook
Reflections on the Intensity of Language
by Clive James
W. W. Norton, 2015
Hardcover
ISBN 978-1-63149-027-9

With his customary wit, delightfully lucid prose style and wide-ranging knowledge, Clive James explains the difference between the innocuous stuff so prevalent today and a real poem: the latter being a work of unity that insists on being heard entire and threatens never to leave the memory. A committed formalist and an astute commentator, James examines the poems and legacies of a panorama of twentieth-century poets, from Hart Crane to Ezra Pound, from Ted Hughes to Anne Sexton. In some cases he includes second readings or rereadings from later in life—just to be sure he wasn’t wrong the first time! Whether demanding that poetry must be heard beyond the world of poetry or opining on his five favorite poets (Yeats, Frost, Auden, Wilbur, and Larkin), James captures the whole truth of life's transience in this unforgettably eloquent book on how to read and appreciate modern poetry.

3.21.2015

Ten Windows



Ten Windows
How Great Poems Transform the World
By Jane Hirshfield

Alfred A. Knopf, 2015.

A dazzling collection of essays on how the best poems work, from the master poet and essayist.

“Poetry,” Jane Hirshfield has said, “is language that foments revolutions of being.” In ten eloquent and highly original explorations, she unfolds and explores some of the ways this is done—by the inclusion of hiddenness, paradox, and surprise; by a perennial awareness of the place of uncertainty in our lives; by language’s own acts of discovery; by the powers of image, statement, music, and feeling to enlarge in every direction. The lucid understandings presented here are gripping and transformative in themselves. Investigating the power of poetry to move and change us becomes in these pages an equal investigation into the inhabitance and navigation of our human lives.

2.10.2015

The State of the Art


The State of the Art
A Chronicle of American Poetry, 1988-2014
By David Lehman

University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015
Hardcover $24.95

The acclaimed annual, The Best American Poetry, is the most prestigious showcase of new poetry in the United States and Canada. Each year since the series began in 1988, David Lehman has contributed a foreword, and this has evolved into a sort of state-of-the-art address that surveys new developments and explores various matters facing poets and their readers today. This book collects all twenty-nine forewords (including the two written for the retrospective “Best of the Best” volumes for the tenth and twenty-fifth anniversaries.) Beginning with a new introduction by Lehman and a foreword by poet Denise Duhamel (guest editor for The Best American Poetry 2013), the collection conveys a sense of American poetry in the making, year by year, over the course of a quarter of a century.

1.18.2015

Retrievals


Retrievals

By Garrett Caples
Wave Books, 2014.

ISBN# 978-1-933517-98-8 (6.5x9 304pp)

Retrievals is a collection of criticism about underrecognized poets, unfairly discredited critics, artists obscured by more famous relations—basically, writers and artists that have fallen off the cultural map or never quite made it there in the first place. These essays, collected for the first time, span 10 years of Garrett Caples’ writing as an arts journalist and editor at City Lights. His encyclopedic knowledge of surrealism, art history, and Bay Area artists together with candid and tender anecdotes give his writing a humble charm not often found in works of criticism.

11.29.2014

Twenty Poems That Could Save America



TWENTY POEMS THAT COULD SAVE AMERICA AND OTHER ESSAYS
Tony Hoagland

Price: $16.00, Paperback
Graywolf Press

Twenty Poems That Could Save America presents insightful essays on the craft of poetry and a bold conversation about the role of poetry in contemporary culture. Essays on the “vertigo” effects of new poetry give way to appraisals of Robert Bly, Sharon Olds, and Dean Young. At the heart of this book is an honesty and curiosity about the ways poetry can influence America at both the private and public levels. Tony Hoagland is already one of this country’s most provocative poets, and this book confirms his role as a restless and perceptive literary and cultural critic.

11.12.2014

The Art of Daring



THE ART OF DARING
RISK, RESTLESSNESS, IMAGINATION

by Carl Phillips

$12.00
Graywolf Press, 2014.

Award-winning poet Carl Phillips’s invaluable essays on poetry, the tenth volume in the celebrated Art of series of books.

In six insightful essays, Carl Phillips meditates on the craft of poetry, its capacity for making a space for possibility and inquiry. What does it mean to give shapelessness a form? How can a poem at once explore the natural world and the inner world? Phillips demonstrates the restless qualities of the imagination by reading and examining poems by Ashbery, Bogan, Frost, Niedecker, Shakespeare, and others, and by considering other art forms, such as photography and the blues. The Art of Daring is a lyrical, persuasive argument for the many ways that writing and living are acts of risk. “I think it’s largely the conundrum of being human that makes us keep making,” Phillips writes. “I think it has something to do with revision—how, not only is the world in constant revision, but each of us is, as well.”

5.25.2014

Robert Duncan: Collected Essays



Robert Duncan
Collected Essays and Other Prose
James Maynard (Editor)

University of California Press
Hardcover, 592 pages
ISBN: 9780520267732
January 2014
$60.00

This volume in the Collected Writings of Robert Duncan series gathers a far-reaching selection of Robert Duncan’s prose writings including most of his longer and more well-known essays along with other prose that has never been widely available. Ranging in original publication dates between 1940 and 1985, the forty-one titles reveal a great deal about Duncan’s life in poetry—including his impressions of poets whose work he admires, both contemporaries and precursors. Evocative and eclectic, this work delineates the intellectual contexts and sources of Duncan’s poetics, and opens a window onto the literary communities in which he participated.

4.10.2014

A Poet's Glossary


A Poet's Glossary
by Edward Hirsch

A joyful, elegant glossary of poetic terms spanning centuries and continents, from the famed poet and author of the bestselling How to Read a Poem (And Fall in Love with Poetry).

Format: Hardcover
ISBN-13/ EAN: 9780151011957
ISBN-10: 0151011958
Pages: 736
Publication Date: 04/08/2014

Also available in: eBook - $24.00

2.26.2014

A Guide to Poetics Journal



A Guide to Poetics Journal
Writing in the Expanded Field, 1982–1998
Lyn Hejinian, ed.; Barrett Watten, ed.

Wesleyan University Press

2013 • 416 pp. 20 illus.

$29.95 Paperback, 978-0-8195-7121-2
$85.00 Hardcover, 978-0-8195-7120-5
$23.99 Ebook, 978-0-8195-7122-9

Lyn Hejinian and Barrett Watten are internationally recognized poet/critics. Together they edited the highly influential Poetics Journal, whose ten issues, published between 1982 and 1998, contributed to the surge of interest in the practice of poetics. A Guide to Poetics Journal presents the major conversations and debates from the journal, and invites readers to expand on the critical and creative engagements they represent.

In making their selections for the guide, the editors have sought to showcase a range of innovative poetics and to indicate the diversity of fields and activities with which they might be engaged. The introduction and headnotes by the editors provide historical and thematic context for the articles. The Guide is intended to be of sustained creative and classroom use, while the companion Archive of all ten issues of Poetics Journal allows users to remix, remaster, and extend its practices and debates. (See http://www.upne.com/0819571236.html for more information on the digital archive.)