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Emerson, Whitman, and the New Poetry
"The transmigration of souls is no fable. I would it were, but men and women are only half human." With these words, Ralph Waldo Emerson confronts a dilemma that illuminates the formation of American individualism: to evolve and become fully human requires a heightened engagement with history. Americans, Emerson argues, must realize history's chronology in themselves--because their own minds and bodies are its evolving record. Whereas scholarship has tended to minimize the mystical underpinnings of Emerson's notion of the self, his depictions of "the metempsychosis of nature" reveal deep roots in mystical traditions from Hinduism and Buddhism to Platonism and Christian esotericism. In essay after essay, Emerson uses metempsychosis as an open-ended template to understand human development. In Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman transforms Emerson's conception of metempsychotic selfhood into an expressly poetic event. His vision of transmigration viscerally celebrates the poet's ability to assume and live in other bodies; his American poet seeks to incorporate the entire nation into his own person so that he can speak for every man and woman.
Pitt Poetry Series Anthology
American Poetry Now is a comprehensive collection of the best work from the renowned Pitt Poetry Series. Since its inception in 1967, the series has been a vehicle for America's finest contemporary poets. The series list includes Poet Laureate Billy Collins, Toi Derricotte, Denise Duhamel, Lynn Emanuel, Bob Hicok, Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner Ted Kooser, Larry Levis, Sharon Olds, Alicia Suskin Ostriker, Virgil Suárez, Afaa Michael Weaver, David Wojahn, Dean Young, and many others.
In two intertwined songs, a feminist epic poem and a dreamlike opera libretto, Among the Goddesses traces one woman’s harrowing mythological journey of discovery. Tutored by encounters with seven Goddesses, both frightening and nurturing, Marie/Lily is tested by loss, rape, and abortion as she finds her community and her spiritual strength. This magical book embodies the goddesses in every woman and gives voice to the power of the feminist spirituality movement.
Charles Harper Webb’s eccentric and distinct writing style makes this collection of poetry a funny and charmingly memorable read. A melting pot of pop culture, historical references, and everyday life, Webb’s poems are refreshingly candid and straightforward.
“Paisley Rekdal’s quiet virtuosity with rhyme and cadence, her syntactic fidelity to thought and sensation, her analytical intelligence that keeps homing in and in, her ambitious sentences and larger formal structures that try to embody with absolute accuracy the difference between what we ought to feel and what we really do feel—all these make her unique in her generation: no one sounds like she does, and her concern about the ‘post’ in postconfessional is as much a sign of her earnest desire to honor every aspect of her art, as it is an anxiety that spurs her restless investigations of family, selfhood, racial identity, and erotic life.” —Tom Sleigh
As a psychologist, Lisa C. Krueger is familiar with digging into what makes us human. The joys and celebrations or the pain of what cuts the skin—and what cuts deeper. In animals the size of dreams, Krueger looks into the dark corners and, instead of just shining a light, strips them down to their foundations, until all that’s left is life.
In this first critical study of Anna Letitia Barbauld’s major work, Daniel P. Watkins reveals the singular purpose of Barbauld’s visionary poems: to recreate the world based on the values of liberty and justice. Watkins examines in close detail both the form and content of Barbauld’s Poems, originally published in 1773 and revised and reissued in 1792. Along with providing careful readings of the poems, readings that situate the works in their broader political, historical, and philosophical contexts, Watkins explores the relevance of the introductory epigraphs and the importance of the poems’ placement throughout the volume. At the center of Watkins’s study is Barbauld’s effort to develop a visionary poetic stance. He argues that the deliberate arrangement of the poems creates a coherent portrayal of Barbauld’s poetic, political, and social vision, a vision born of her deep belief that the principles of love, sympathy, liberty, and pacifism are necessary for a secure and meaningful human reality. In tracing the contours of this effort, Watkins examines, in particular, the tension in Barbauld’s poetry between her desire to engage directly with the political realities of the world and her equally strong longing for a pastoral world of peace and prosperity. Scholars of British literature and women writers will welcome this important study of one of the eighteenth century’s foremost writers.