12.09.2017

Pitch of Poetry



Pitch of Poetry
Charles Bernstein
352 pages | 4 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2016

Subjects range across Holocaust representation, Occupy Wall Street, and the figurative nature of abstract art. Detailed overviews of formally inventive work include essays on—or “pitches” for—a set of key poets, from Gertrude Stein and Robert Creeley to John Ashbery, Barbara Guest, Larry Eigner, and Leslie Scalapino. Bernstein also reveals the formative ideas behind the magazine L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E. The final section, published here for the first time, is a sweeping work on the poetics of stigma, perversity, and disability that is rooted in the thinking of Edgar Allan Poe, Emily Dickinson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and William Blake.

Pitch of Poetry makes an exhilarating case for what Bernstein calls echopoetics: a poetry of call and response, reason and imagination, disfiguration and refiguration.

10.14.2017

The Poem Is You




The Poem Is You:
60 Contemporary American Poems and How to Read Them

By Stephen Burt (now Stephanie Burt)
Harvard University Press, 2016.
HARDCOVER $27.95
ISBN 9780674737877

Contemporary American poetry has plenty to offer new readers, and plenty more for those who already follow it. Yet its difficulty—and sheer variety—leaves many readers puzzled or overwhelmed. The critic, scholar, and poet Stephen Burt sets out to help. Beginning in the early 1980s, where critical consensus ends, Burt canvasses American poetry of the past four decades, from the headline-making urgency of Claudia Rankine’s Citizen to the stark pathos of Louise Glück, the limitless energy of Juan Felipe Herrera, and the erotic provocations of D. A. Powell.

The Poem Is You: Sixty Contemporary American Poems and How to Read Them is a guide to the diverse magnificences of American poetry today. It presents a wide range of poems selected by Burt for this volume, each accompanied by an original essay explaining how a given poem works, why it matters, and how the poem speaks to other parts of art and culture. Included here are some classroom classics (by Ashbery, Komunyakaa, Hass), less famous poems by very famous poets (Glück, Kay Ryan), and poems by prizewinning poets near the start of their careers (such as Brandon Som), and by others who are not—or not yet—well known.

The Poem Is You will appeal to poets, teachers, and students, but it is intended especially for readers who want to learn more about contemporary American poetry but who have not known where or how to start. It describes what American poets have fashioned for one another, and what they can give us today.

9.12.2017

Why Don't We Say What We Mean




WHY DON’T WE SAY WHAT WE MEAN?: ESSAYS MOSTLY ABOUT POETRY
by Lawrence Raab
Tupelo Press, 2017
$16.95
ISBN: 978-1-936797-76-9

Lawrence Raab has been revered as a quietly magnificent poet. As friends and students have long known, for decades he’s also been a virtuosic teacher. In this first collection of his contemplative essays, Raab ponders works that keep mattering to him as a working writer, with fresh considerations of Edwin Arlington Robinson and Thomas Hardy, Wislawa Szymborska, Ben Jonson, Henry James, Gertrude Stein, Lewis Carroll, the artist René Magritte, and Robert Frost. Reading with his touchtone of “truthfulness,” a literary maestro meditates on authenticity, ambiguity, and endings, and with “In a Different Hour: Collaboration, Revision, and Friendship,” he offers a fascinating chronicle of prolonged, generative exchange with poet Stephen Dunn.

8.18.2017

American Originality




American Originality
Essays on Poetry

Louise Gluck

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017
ISBN: 9780374537463
208 Pages

From its opening pages, American Originality forces readers to consider contemporary poetry and its demigods in radical, unconsoling, and ultimately very productive ways. Determined to wrest ample, often contradictory meaning from our current literary discourse, Glück comprehends and destabilizes notions of “narcissism” and “genius” that are unique to the American literary climate. This includes erudite analyses of the poets who have interested her throughout her own career, such as Rilke, Pinsky, Chiasson, and Dobyns, and introductions to the first books of poets like Dana Levin, Peter Streckfus, Spencer Reece, and Richard Siken. Forceful, revealing, challenging, and instructive, American Originality is a seminal critical achievement.

7.17.2017

Sallies, Romps, Portraits, and Send-Offs


Sallies, Romps, Portraits, and Send-Offs
Selected Prose, 2000-2016


August Kleinzahler

Farrar, Straus and Giroux
ISBN: 9780374282097

Sixteen years’ worth of incisive essays by the great poet and memoirist

“Witty, gritty poet and memoirist Kleinzahler” (Publishers Weekly) has gathered the best of sixteen years’ worth of essays, remembrances, and reviews in this scabrous and essential collection, setting down his thoughts about great poets and bad poets, about kvetching fiction writers and homicidal musicians, about eccentric critics and discerning nobodies, always with insight and humor, and never suffering fools gladly.

Here, in Sallies, Romps, Portraits, and Send-Offs, August Kleinzahler eulogizes famous friends, warts and all (Thom Gunn, Christopher Middleton, Leonard Michaels); leads the charge in carving up a few bloated reputations (E. E. Cummings, Richard Brautigan); and sings the praises of unjustly neglected masters (Lucia Berlin, Kenneth Cox). He also turns the spotlight on himself in several short, delightful memoirs, covering such subjects as his obsessive CD collecting, the eerie effects of San Francisco fog, and the terrible duty of selling of his childhood home.

6.24.2017

Arks & Convenants



Arks & Covenants: Essays and Aphorisms
by Alfred Corn

Cat in the Sun Books, 2017
(pub reDUX)

This third collection of essays by the poet and novelist Alfred Corn is wide-ranging in scope and unusual in its approach. Corn brings the insider’s understanding of how meaning arises and develops in a literary work and provides close readings of authors as distinct as the author of Deuteronomy, Thom Gunn, Elizabeth Bishop, Cavafy and Wallace Stevens. The book also includes a series of aphorisms that make keenly ironic comments on moral and artistic issues. There are readers, too, who will enjoy the grace and clarity of Corn’s prose style. An Afterword by the distinguished critic Robert Archambeau provides that same pleasure. This unusual edition comes with a cover portrait of Alfred Corn by artist Stephanie Rose, who uses details from it as design elements throughout the book.

5.23.2017

That Wondrous Pattern


That Wondrous Pattern
Essays on Poetry and Poets
By Kathleen Raine
Counterpoint Press

List Price: $28.00
April 11, 2017 | Hardcover | 6 x 9, 384 pages | ISBN 978161902923

For our new selection, That Wondrous Pattern: Essays on Poetry and Poets, Raine’s colleague and friend Brian Keeble offers sixteen pieces that range from “The Inner Journey of the Poet” and “What Is Man?” to essays on Blake, Wordsworth, Hopkins, Yeats, Eliot, and several others. The centerpiece, “What Is the Use of Poetry?,” is a rigorous defense of the great art. Keeble himself contributes a fascinating introduction to Raine’s work, and Wendell Berry, himself a colleague and friend of Kathleen Raine, offers a preface.

All who spend time in the presence of this wonderful writer will leave newly entranced with the art and use of the beautiful, and convinced that “it is only in moments when we transcend ourselves that we can know anything of value.”

5.12.2017

Knowing Knott



KNOWING KNOTT: Essays on an American Poet

Edited by Steven Huff.

Bill Knott (1940-2014) was one of the most brilliant and iconoclastic American poets of our time, who liked to think of himself as an outsider even while publishing sixteen books in his lifetime and wielding enormous influence on at least two generations of poets. To his colleagues, students and friends he could be unpredictable, mercurial, reclusive or tenderly kind, but ever unforgettable. This volume gathers essays and reminiscences by some of the people who knew him, for whom knowing Knott was one of life's singular experiences. They include: Star Black, William Corbett, Stuart Dischell, Stephen Dobyns, Robert Fanning, Jonathan Galassi, DeWitt Henry, Steven Huff, Leigh Jejuga, Timothy Liu, Tom Lux, Chad Reynolds, Peter Jay Shippey, John Skoyles and Michael Waters.

Included here also is a short section of his visual art (as well as the cover art above), which, while a lesser known side of his creative energy, is the work of a highly accomplished artist.

4.13.2017

One Toss of the Dice



One Toss of the Dice
THE INCREDIBLE STORY OF HOW A POEM MADE US MODERN
R. Howard Bloch

W.W. Norton (A Liveright Book)
Hardcover, November 2016
ISBN 978-0-87140-663-7

Featuring a new, authoritative translation of the French poem by J. D. McClatchy, One Toss of the Dice reveals how a literary masterpiece launched the modernist movement, contributed to the rise of pop art, influenced modern Web design, and shaped the perceptual world we now inhabit. And as Alex Ross remarks in The New Yorker, "If you can crack [Mallarmé’s] poems, it seems, you can crack the riddles of existence." In One Toss of the Dice, Bloch finally, and brilliantly, dissects one of literary history’s greatest mysteries to reveal how a poem made us modern.

2.17.2017

My Lost Poets


MY LOST POETS
A Life in Poetry
by Philip Levine

Hardcover
Published by Knopf
Nov 08, 2016 | 224 Pages | 5 x 8-3/8 | ISBN 9780451493279

Essays, speeches, and journal entries from one of our most admired and best-loved poets that illuminate how he came to understand himself as a poet, the events and people that he wrote about, and the older poets who influenced him.

In prose both as superbly rendered as his poetry and as down-to-earth and easy as speaking, Levine reveals the things that made him the poet he became. In the title essay, originally the final speech of his poet laureate year, he recounts how as a boy he composed little speeches walking in the night woods near his house and how he later realized these were his first poems. He wittily takes on the poets he studied with in the Iowa Writing Program: John Berryman, who was his great teacher and lifelong friend, and Robert Lowell, who was neither. His deepest influences–jazz, Spain, the working people of Detroit–are reflected in many of the pieces. There are essays on Spanish poets he admires, William Carlos Williams, Wordsworth, Keats, and others. A wonderful, moving collection of writings that add to our knowledge and appreciation of Philip Levine–both the man and the poet.

12.19.2016

Questions of Poetics



Questions of Poetics: Language Writing and Consequences
Barrett Watten
University of Iowa Press, 2016

Questions of Poetics is Barrett Watten’s major reassessment of the political history, social formation, and literary genealogy of Language writing. A key participant in the emergent bicoastal poetic avant-garde as poet, editor, and publisher, Watten has developed, over three decades of writing in poetics, a sustained account of its theory and practice. The present volume represents the core of Watten’s critical writing and public lecturing since the millennium, taking up the historical origins and continuity of Language writing, from its beginnings to the present.

Each chapter is a theoretical inquiry into an aspect of poetics in an expanded sense—from the relation of experimental poetry to cultural logics of liberation and political economy, to questions of community and the politics of the avant-garde, to the cultural contexts where it is produced and intervenes. Each serves as a kind of thought experiment that theorizes and assesses the consequences of Language writing in expanded fields of meaning that include history, political theory, art history, and narrative theory. While all are grounded in a series of baseline questions of poetics, they also polemically address the currently turbulent debates on the politics of the avant-garde, especially Language writing, among emerging communities of poets.

In manifold ways, Watten masterfully demonstrates the aesthetic and political aims of Language writing, its influence on emerging literary schools, and its present aesthetic, critical, and political horizons. Questions of Poetics will be a major point of reference in continuing debates on poetry and literary history, a critical reexamination for already familiar readers and a clearly presented introduction for new ones.

11.26.2016

Outside the Margins



Outside the Margins: Literary Commentaries
by Robert Bonazzi

Wings Press, 2015.
Paperback, 306 pages

San Antonio Express-News poetry columnist Robert Bonazzi gathers twenty years of reviews and profiles, essays, and articles in Outside the Margins. Known as the foremost authority on Black Like Me author John Howard Griffin, here Bonazzi focuses on poets and writers from Texas, the Southwest, Mexico and Latin America. His criticism finds threads of mutual interests, shared sources of inspiration, and stylistic confluences. Bonazzi also focuses on writers whose work has appeared in small and independent presses, providing the kind of insight only a former small press publisher/editor can provide. Bonazzi's reviews are both anticipated and respected throughout the Southwest. This is a major collection of his most important essays and reviews for the past two decades.

11.17.2016

This Dialogue of One



This Dialogue of One: Essays on Poets from John Donne to Joan Murray
by Mark Ford

2015 Winner of the Poetry Foundation Pegasus Award for Poetry Criticism

This Dialogue of One collects thirteen essays on English, French and American poets by one of the era’s most engaging and highly esteemed poet-critics. Like Randall Jarrell, whose achievement is assessed here, Ford combines a refreshing openness to innovation with an authoritative awareness of what makes a poem stand the test of time. Witty, astute and wide-ranging, Ford demonstrates his formidable gifts as a close reader of poetry, whether exploring canonical works by the likes of Whitman, Dickinson, Baudelaire and T.S. Eliot, or championing the cause of neglected figures such as James Thomson, Samuel Greenberg and Joan Murray. As John Lanchester once observed of Ford’s essays, ‘If more literary criticism were like this, more people would read it.’

Eyewear Publishing
Product Number:9781908998880
ISBN 978-1-908-99888-0
PAPERBACK
Pages:232
$ 15.00

10.27.2016

Available Light




Available Light: Philip Booth and the Gift of Place
(Bauhan Publishing Co., Peterborough, N.H., 2016, $23.95
by Jeanne Braham

Philip Booth published ten volumes of meticulously crafted lyric poems in his lifetime, most of them set in and inscribed by the landscapes and cadences of Down East Maine. Like other major poets writing from New England who were his contemporaries, the echoes of Robert Frost register in Booth’s structure and language. Booth knew Frost personally and if his mentor’s poetic example shaped Booth’s art, Castine, Maine, home of Booth’s maternal ancestors for five generations, provided “the gift of place”: the historic, geographic, and experiential canvas on which to paint his poems. This biography aims to ignite new interest in a poet who spent a “lifetime looking into how words see.”

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.