We Begin In Gladness

We Begin in Gladness: How Poets Progress
Craig Morgan Teicher
ISBN 978-1-55597-821-1
Graywolf Press, 2018.
Paperback, 176 pages.

“The staggering thing about a life’s work is it takes a lifetime to complete,” Craig Morgan Teicher writes in these luminous essays. We Begin in Gladness considers how poets start out, how they learn to hear themselves, and how some offer us that rare, glittering thing: lasting work. Teicher traces the poetic development of the works of Sylvia Plath, John Ashbery, Louise Glück, and Francine J. Harris, among others, to illuminate the paths they forged—by dramatic breakthroughs or by slow increments, and always by perseverance. We Begin in Gladness is indispensable for readers curious about the artistic life and for writers wondering how they might light out—or even scale the peak of the mountain.


Manifesto Project

Edited by
Rebecca Hazelton & Alan Michael Parker, editors
University of Akron Press (2017)
ISBN-10: 1629220493
ISBN-13: 978-1629220499

The poetic manifesto has a long, rich history that hasn’t been updated until now. What does a poetic manifesto look like in a time of increased pluralism, relativism, and danger? How can a manifesto open a space for new and diverse voices? Forty-seven poets at different stages of their careers contribute to this new anthology, demonstrating the relevance of the declarative form at the intersection of aesthetics and politics. The contributors also have chosen their own poems to accompany their manifestos—an anthologizing act that poets are never permitted.


The Lives of the Poems and Three Talks

By Joshua Beckman
Publication Date: May 1, 2018
ISBN# 9781940696423 (6x8.5; The Lives of the Poems: 80pp, Three Talks: 72pp; paperback)

During 2014, Wave Books editor Joshua Beckman traveled around the country giving lectures on poetry. Collected here as two books in conversation—and inaugurating Wave’s Bagley Wright Lecture Series publications—these talks provide a rare and unique insight into a deeply literary life. In The Lives of the Poems, Beckman offers three variations of the same talk that—through repetition and adjustment, a sort of echolocating—illuminate the intimate experience of making a particular set of poems. In Three Talks, he explores the fluid social dynamics of poetry as it lives between readers, poems, and books.


The Fate of Difficulty in the Poetry of Our Time

The Fate of Difficulty in the Poetry of Our Time
Northwestern University Press, 2017.

Part anthology, part essay collection, The Fate of Difficulty in the Poetry of Our Time offers original readings of poems composed in this century—poems that are challenging to follow, challenging to understand, challenging to discuss, and challenging to enjoy. Difficult poetry of the past relied on allusion, syntactic complexity, free association, and strange juxtapositions. The new poetry breaks with the old in its stunning variety, its questioning of inherited values, labels, and narratives, its multilingualism, its origin in and production of unnamed affects, and its coherence around critical and social theorists as much as other poets.

The essays in this volume include poets writing on the works of a younger generation (Lyn Hejinian on Paolo Javier, Bob Perelman on Rachel Zolf, Roberto Tejada on Rosa Alcalá), influential writers addressing the work of peers (Ben Lerner on Maggie Nelson, Michael W. Clune on Aaron Kunin), critics making imaginative leaps to encompass challenging work (Brian M. Reed on Sherwin Bitsui, Siobhan Philips on Juliana Spahr), and younger scholars coming to terms with poets who continue to govern new poetic experimentation (Joseph Jeon on Myung Mi Kim, Lytle Shaw on Lisa Robertson).

In pairings that are both intuitive (Marjorie Perloff on Craig Dworkin) and unexpected (Langdon Hammer on Srikanth Reddy), The Fate of Difficulty in the Poetry of Our Time illuminates the myriad pathways and strategies for exploring the fascinating world of difficult poetry.


James Wright: A Life in Poetry

James Wright
A Life in Poetry

by Jonathan Blunk

Farrar, Straus and Giroux
ISBN: 9780374178598
512 Pages

The authorized and sweeping biography of one of America’s most complex, influential, and enduring poets

In the extraordinary generation of American poets who came of age in the middle of the twentieth century, James Wright (1927–1980) was frequently placed at the top of the list. With a fierce, single-minded devotion to his work, Wright escaped the steel town of his Depression-era childhood in the Ohio valley to become a revered professor of English literature and a Pulitzer Prize winner. But his hometown remained at the heart of his work, and he courted a rough, enduring muse from his vivid memories of the Midwest. A full-throated lyricism and classical poise became his tools, honesty and unwavering compassion his trademark.

Using meticulous research, hundreds of interviews, and Wright’s public readings, Jonathan Blunk’s authorized biography explores the poet’s life and work with exceptional candor, making full use of Wright’s extensive unpublished work—letters, poems, translations, and personal journals. Focusing on the tensions that forced Wright’s poetic breakthroughs and the relationships that plunged him to emotional depths, Blunk provides a spirited portrait, and a fascinating depiction of this turbulent period in American letters.


Why Poetry

Why Poetry
by Matthew Zapruder
Harper Collins - Ecco
ISBN: 9780062343079
ISBN 10: 0062343076

An impassioned call for a return to reading poetry and an incisive argument for poetry’s accessibility to all readers, by critically acclaimed poet Matthew Zapruder

In Why Poetry, award-winning poet Matthew Zapruder takes on what it is that poetry—and poetry alone—can do. Zapruder argues that the way we have been taught to read poetry is the very thing that prevents us from enjoying it. In lively, lilting prose, he shows us how that misunderstanding interferes with our direct experience of poetry and creates the sense of confusion or inadequacy that many of us feel when faced with it.


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.


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.
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.


Why Don't We Say What We Mean

by Lawrence Raab
Tupelo Press, 2017
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.


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.


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.


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.


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.”


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.


One Toss of the Dice

One Toss of the Dice
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.


My Lost Poets

A Life in Poetry
by Philip Levine

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.


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.


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.


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
$ 15.00


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.”


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


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.


Hatred of Poetry

The Hatred of Poetry
by Ben Lerner

Farrar, Straus and Giroux
FSG Originals
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.


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


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.