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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.
Meditations on a Tale of Science Fiction by Thomas M. Disch—“Angouleme”
The American Shore: Meditations on a Tale of Science Fiction by Thomas M. Disch—“Angouleme” was first published in 1978 to the intense interest of science fiction readers and the growing community of SF scholars. Recalling Nabokov’s commentary on Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin, Roland Barthes’ commentary on Balzac’s Sarazine, and Grabinier’s reading of The Heart of Hamlet, this book-length essay helped prove the genre worthy of serious investigation. The American Shore is the third in a series of influential critical works by Samuel R. Delany, beginning with The Jewel-Hinged Jaw and Starboard Wine, first published in the late seventies and reissued over the last five years by Wesleyan University Press, which helped win Delany a Pilgrim Award for Science Fiction Scholarship from the Science Fiction Research Association of America. This edition includes the author’s corrected text as well as a new introduction by Delany scholar Matthew Cheney.
The American Sun & Wind Moving Picture Company is an enchanting tale set in the silent film era. Beginning in 1915, in Fort Lee, New Jersey, where a Jewish family makes one and two reel silent films, the novel is composed of six chapters, each a discrete silent film in itself.
Joey, the too-beautiful-to-be-a-boy son of moviemaker, Simon, and his actress wife, Hannah, imagines stories that his uncle’s camera turns into scenes for their movies. Witness to and participant in the rapid technological advances in film, from the movies his family makes, to the advent of the talkies, Joey is cast in both male and female roles, onstage and off. When the woman Joey loves murders her abusive husband and sends Joey from his New Jersey family disguised as the mother of her own children, he embarks on a cross-country journey of adventure and hardship, crossing paths with the likes of D. W. Griffith, Lillian Gish, Mary Pickford, and “Roxy” Rothafel. Finally, reunited on the opposite coast with his uncle, and with the woman he has never stopped loving, Joey’s wild journey—and life!—arrive at a moment as unpredictable as it is magical.
In an outrageously original tale worthy of a studio whose moguls might have been Kafka, Garcia Marquez, and Isaac Bashevis Singer, reality and illusion merge and separate, leaving the audience spellbound even after the final curtain falls.
While reluctantly accompanying her husband and daughter to freshman orientation at Indiana University, Nora Quillen hears someone call her name, a name she has not heard in more than 25 years. Not even her husband knows that back in the '60s she was Jane Barth, a student deeply involved in the antiwar movement. An American Tune moves back and forth in time, telling the story of Jane, a girl from a working-class family who fled town after she was complicit in a deadly bombing, and Nora, the woman she became, a wife and mother living a quiet life in northern Michigan. An achingly poignant account of a family crushed under the weight of suppressed truths, An American Tune illuminates the irrevocability of our choices and how those choices come to compose the tune of our lives.
David Roderick’s second book, The Americans, pledges its allegiance to dirt. And to laptops. And to swimming pools, the Kennedys, a flower in a lapel, plastic stars hanging from the ceiling of a child’s room, churning locusts, a jar of blood, a gleam of sun on the wing of a plane. His poems swarm with life. They also ask an unanswerable question: What does it mean to be an American? Restless against the borders we build—between countries, between each other—Roderick roams from place to place in order to dig into the messy, political, idealistic and ultimately inexplicable idea of American-ness. His rangy, inquisitive lyrics stitch together a patchwork flag, which he stakes alongside all the noise of our construction, our obsessive building and making, while he imagines the fate of a nation built on desire.