In this book, James Longenbach develops a fresh approach to major American poetry after modernism. Rethinking the influential breakthrough narrative, the oft-told story of postmodern poets throwing off their modernist shackles in the 1950s, Longenbach offers a more nuanced perspective. Reading a diverse range of poets--John Ashbery, Elizabeth Bishop, Amy Clampitt, Jorie Graham, Richard Howard, Randall Jarrell, Robert Lowell, Robert Pinsky, and Richard Wilbur--Longenbach reveals that American poets since mid- century have not so much disowned their modernist past as extended elements of modernism that other readers have suppressed or neglected to see. In the process, Longenbach allows readers to experience the wide variety of poetries written in our time-- without asking us to choose between them.
The most influential poet of his age, Yeats eluded the grasp of many who sought to explain him. In this classic critical examination of the poet, Richard Ellmann strips away the masks of his subject: occultist, senator of the Irish Free State, libidinous old man, and Nobel Prize winner.
Thirty-one essays-categorized as "essays in generalization," "appreciations of individual authors," and "social and religious criticism"- written over a half century. This volume reveals Eliot's original ideas, cogent conclusions, and skill and grace in language. Edited and with an Introduction by Frank Kermode; Index. Published jointly with Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
Throughout the history of the United States, a commitment to both democratic political ideals and to capitalist realities has made privacy a persistently controversial issue. Only rarely, however, has privacy attracted the attention of American literary criticism. In his ingeniously argued new study, Louis A. Renza extends the idea of privacy beyond the received wisdom of its popular legal and psychological conceptions and, iconoclastically, beyond its conception in postmodern literary theory to show that the public-private paradigm has import for American literary texts past and present.It is a truism of cultural studies that the interior space of imagination is socially constructed and thus that the private is ineluctably political. But Renza shows, through a brilliantly original analysis of works by Edgar Allan Poe and Wallace Stevens, that as an effect of reading and writing, a real or "radical" privacy continually resists appropriation. In admirably close readings of Poe's tales, his long essay Eureka, and Stevens's Harmonium poems, Renza demonstrates that both writers ground the concept of privacy in the possibility of multiple interpretations of their texts. Neither Poe nor Stevens resists meaning or sense, but by thematically engaging in their work the inescapable public/private dichotomy of artistic creation, they create a highly personal idiom that, like Poe's "purloined letter," allows them to "hide in plain sight" and in that way to ﬁnesse public constructions of meaning. Thus, surprisingly, privacy can always be conceived as something more than what current social-cultural codes urge us to believe. The poetics Renza compellingly elucidates does not deny the insights of current theory but offers a refreshing alternative that allows for the "radical" autonomy of authorship without resorting to vague elitist claims of individual genius. His thoughtful readings are a major contribution to traditional Poe and Stevens scholarship, and his challenging thesis will provoke new investigations into the privacy issue in American literature as a whole.
How to Read a Poem is an unprecedented exploration of poetry and feeling. In language at once acute and emotional, distinguished poet and critic Edward Hirsch describes why poetry matters and how we can open up our imaginations so that its message can make a difference. In a marvelous reading of verse from around the world, including work by Pablo Neruda, Elizabeth Bishop, Wallace Stevens, and Sylvia Plath, among many others, Hirsch discovers the true meaning of their words and ideas and brings their sublime message home into our hearts. A masterful work by a master poet, this brilliant summation of poetry and human nature will speak to all readers who long to place poetry in their lives.
Every day people tune in to The Writer's Almanac on public radio and hear Garrison Keillor read them a poem. And here, for the first time, is an anthology of poems from the show, chosen by the narrator for their wit, their frankness, their passion, their "utter clarity in the face of everything else a person has to deal with at 7 a.m."
The title Good Poems comes from common literary parlance. For writers, it's enough to refer to somebody having written a good poem. Somebody else can worry about greatness. Mary Oliver's "Wild Geese" is a good poem, and so is James Wright's "A Blessing." Regular people love those poems. People read them aloud at weddings, people send them by e-mail.
Good Poems includes poems about lovers, children, failure, everyday life, death, and transcendance. It features the work of classic poets, such as Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, and Robert Frost, as well as the work of contemporary greats such as Howard Nemerov, Charles Bukowski, Donald Hall, Billy Collins, Robert Bly, and Sharon Olds. It's a book of poems for anybody who loves poetry whether they know it or not.
The place of poetry in modern democracy is no place, according to conventional wisdom. The poet, we hear, is a casualty of mass entertainment and prosaic public culture, banished to the artistic sidelines to compose variations on insipid themes for a dwindling audience. Robert Pinsky, however, argues that this gloomy diagnosis is as wrongheaded as it is familiar. Pinsky, whose remarkable career as a poet itself undermines the view, writes that to portray poetry and democracy as enemies is to radically misconstrue both. The voice of poetry, he shows, resonates with profound themes at the very heart of democratic culture.
There is no one in America better to write on this topic. One of the country's most accomplished poets, Robert Pinsky served an unprecedented two terms as America's Poet Laureate (1997-2000) and led the immensely popular multimedia Favorite Poem Project, which invited Americans to submit and read aloud their favorite poems. Pinsky draws on his experiences and on characteristically sharp and elegant observations of individual poems to argue that expecting poetry to compete with show business is to mistake its greatest democratic strength--its intimate, human scale--as a weakness.
As an expression of individual voice, a poem implicitly allies itself with ideas about individual dignity that are democracy's bedrock, far more than is mass participation. Yet poems also summon up communal life.. Even the most inward-looking work imagines a reader. And in their rhythms and cadences poems carry in their very bones the illusion and dynamic of call and response. Poetry, Pinsky writes, cannot help but mediate between the inner consciousness of the individual reader and the outer world of other people. As part of the entertainment industry, he concludes, poetry will always be small and overlooked. As an art--and one that is inescapably democratic--it is massive and fundamental.
Through journals, letters, dreams, and close readings of the work of many poets, Adrienne Rich reflects on how poetry and politics enter and impinge on American life. This expanded edition includes a new preface by the author as well as her post-9/11 Six Meditations in Place of a Lecture.