Contents

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pp. ix-x

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Poets on Poets and Poetry

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pp. 1-2

Adrienne Rich, in Poetry & Commitment: An Essay: “Poetries are no more pure and simple than human histories are pure and simple.” Thomas Merton, in his 1967 essay “Day of a Stranger”: “There is a mental ecology, too, in living balance of spirits in this corner of the woods. There is room here...

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The Poet and the Lawyer: The Example of Wallace Stevens

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pp. 3-9

“The slight tobaccoy odor of autumn”—Wallace Stevens begins his introduction to Williams Carlos Williams’s 1934 Collected Poems—“is perceptible in these pages. Williams is past fifty.” Autumn this evening is perceptible in Hartford. Wallace Stevens was born 127 years ago this past Monday . . . I knew I would write poetry...

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Michael Schmidt’s Lives of the Poets

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pp. 10-17

The book equivalent of a poetsbiography.com? How about, instead, more than sixty essay-like stories, with titles like “‘Not as I suld, I wrait, but as I couth’: Robert Henryson, William Dunbar, Gavin Douglas, Stephen Hawes” and...

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A Note on “That’s All”

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pp. 18-20

“That’s All” was written in late 1982, two and a half years after my wife Nancy and I moved to New York City from Detroit. I wanted to write a poem that incorporated various aspects of both cities, and of the Shouf mountains in Lebanon (from which one of my grandfathers emigrated...

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Tony Harrison and Michael Hofmann

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pp. 21-25

“Deeply ironic structure” is Terry Eagleton’s description of an essential quality of Tony Harrison’s poetry, and he’s right—not only about Harrison, but also about the poets in England who are making a permanent mark...

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Frederick Seidel

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pp. 26-32

From the outset—his first book, Final Solutions, was published in 1963 when he was only twenty-seven—Frederick Seidel’s strong aesthetic sensibility has clashed with a complex and expansive sense of the world around him...

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Enzensberger’s Kiosk

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pp. 33-41

Kiosk is the first book of poems by Hans Magnus Enzensberger published in the United States since The Sinking of the Titanic appeared in 1980. Kiosk was published in Germany in 1995. The Sheep Meadow Press is....

“Our Lives Are Here”: Notes from a Journal, Detroit, 1975

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pp. 42-49

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John Ashbery and Adrienne Rich

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pp. 50-56

In late 1936, Wallace Stevens delivered, at Harvard, his first public lecture on poetry. Shaken, as was everyone, by the Great Depression, Stevens spoke of the fact that “politics” had become “nearer to each of us” as a result...

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Poets on Poets and Poetry

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pp. 57-58

Wallace Stevens, in his 1951 introduction to The Necessary Angel: Essays on Reality and the Imagination, writes: “One function of the poet at any time is to discover by his own thought and feeling what seems to him to be the poetry at that time.”...

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James Schuyler’s The Morning of the Poem

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pp. 59-67

James Schuyler’s The Morning of the Poem was published in 1980 and received the Pulitzer Prize for that year. Like all Schuyler’s poetry, The Morning of the Poem involves continuous experiments of language and form. If I had....

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Word Made Flesh

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pp. 68-77

It was May. The Jesuit high school in Detroit. The Gospel According to John. “Love. God. Is. God is love. Do you understand?” Father Born asked. “Each word means the same thing. That’s what God is. Love.” “Thaaat’s what love is...

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A Few Reflections on Poetry and Language

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pp. 78-88

In “When Was Modernism?”—which appeared in New Left Review in 1989—Raymond Williams defined what modernism is by asking when it was. As a classification for a whole cultural movement and moment, “modernism”—Williams...

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Hayden Carruth

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pp. 89-94

Hayden Carruth’s Collected Shorter Poems 1946–1991—as the poet tells us in a prefatory note—includes about two-thirds of his published shorter poems, as well as a section “New Poems (1986–1991).” Written during a...

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Marilyn Hacker

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pp. 95-98

I still remember the stir that Marilyn Hacker’s first book of poems, Presentation Piece, caused when it came out in 1974. The combination of forms, styles, and voices was one thing: Here, at the age of thirty-one, came a...

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Aspects of Weldon Kees

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pp. 99-103

Relative to his peers, Weldon Kees possessed an extraordinary visual as well as aural sensibility. He liked ideas and thinking critically. He had an attractive speaking voice and loved conversation. He also had a strong sense...

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Smokey Robinson’s High Tenor Voice

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pp. 104-105

seemed to weave itself through the thick, hot June air, between the jazz-like piano accompaniment, the sound of an electronic flute, soft drums, the steady yet subtly fluctuating “funky Motown” rhythm guitar, and the...

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Joyce Carol Oates’s Blonde

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pp. 106-112

In Moby-Dick, in the chapter “The Fossil Whale,” Ishmael proclaims: “To introduce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme.” The theme of Joyce Carol Oates’s Blonde—well, it’s about as mighty as you can get....

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Poets on Poets and Poetry

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pp. 113-114

William Carlos Williams, in his “Author’s Introduction” to The Wedge: “The poet isn’t a fixed phenomenon, no more is his work.” A poet’s work “might be a note on current affairs, a diagnosis, a plan for procedure,...

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Marie Ponsot

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pp. 115-119

A new book of poems by Marie Ponsot is an event: Its readers can expect that each poem in it will be its own brilliant world of language—a language that encompasses what makes us human—made accordingly..

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Conversation with Charles Bernstein

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pp. 120-128

Charles Bernstein: Welcome to Close Listening, ArtRadio WPS1’s program of readings and conversations with poets. Presented in collaboration with PennSound, my guest today for the second of two shows is Lawrence Joseph. Lawrence...

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Working Rules for Lawyerland

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pp. 129-132

These “working rules” were assembled from notes before and during the writing of the first complete draft of Lawyerland. It was within the scope of these rules that Lawyerland was conceived and written....

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The Game Changed

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pp. 133-139

That morning at around eight o’clock I went out to teach at St. John’s Law School in Queens, walking, as I always did, from our apartment in Gateway Plaza, in Battery Park City, at the corner of Liberty and South End Avenue,...

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Being in the Language of Poetry, Being in the Language of Law

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pp. 140-161

The 1985 Tanner Lecture on Human Values at the University of Michigan was delivered on November 8 of that year by Clifford Geertz. His lecture, “The Uses of Diversity,” was published in the Winter 1986 issue of...