Cover

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Series Page, Title Page, Copyright

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Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Acknowledgments

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pp. vii-x

I owe my first debt of gratitude to my parents. My father, Gerald Izenberg, showed me by his example how to lead a life of the mind while being fully present to others. My mother, Ziva Izenberg, has always instructed me with her powerful good sense and her unshakable will. They are the most generous people I know. ...

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Introduction: Poems, Poetry, Personhood

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pp. 1-39

Being Numerous addresses a set of interdependent problems in the history, theory, and politics of recent Anglo-American poetry. In it, I offer a challenge and an alternative to a nearly unanimous literary-historical consensus that would divide poetry into two warring camps—post-Romantic and postmodern; ...

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Chapter One: White Thin Bone: Yeatsian Personhood

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pp. 40-77

At least four decades of major American critical theorists, Daniel O’Hara writes in his 1987 essay “Yeats in Theory,” were “essentially Yeatsian.”1 R. P. Blackmur solidified his sense of poetic form upon the work of the still-living artist whom he declared “our one indubitable major poet”;2 ...

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Chapter Two: Oppen’s Silence, Crusoe’s Silence, and the Silence of Other Minds

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pp. 78-106

The last chapter ended with a poem, perfect in its paradoxical way. The occasion of “Cuchulain Comforted” was the occasion both of the hero’s departure from the land of the living and of the poet’s own imminent death. Considered as his final act, the hero’s death secures his identity; an appropriately memorable end both demands and assures immortalization. ...

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Chapter Three: The Justice of My Feelings for Frank O’Hara

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pp. 107-137

This odd poem, entitled “Prose for the Times” (1952), exemplifies in condensed form many of the problems that a reader inclined to take poems seriously encounters when approaching the poetry of Frank O’Hara. Unlike Oppen’s self-inflicted silence, so burdened with moral gravity, virtually everything about O’Hara’s voluble poem seems designed as if to affront the dignity of the poetic vocation, ...

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Chapter Four: Language Poetry and Collective Life

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pp. 138-163

Bob Perelman’s 1996 The Marginalization of Poetry1 ends its scholarly and autobiographical account of the recent American poetic avant-garde with an allegorical fantasy. Before Perelman’s dreaming eyes, Frank O’Hara—discerning lover of the world, aficionado of the mess of experience—and Roland Barthes— passionate reader of the world, ...

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Chapter Five: We Are Reading

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pp. 164-188

Amidst the translations, mistranslations, hybrids, and fictions that make up Jack Spicer’s 1957 book After Lorca, we find a series of letters from the living American poet to the dead Spanish one: ...

Notes

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pp. 189-224

Index

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pp. 225-234