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Poets on Poetry

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Available Surfaces

Essays on Poesis

T. R. Hummer

T. R. Hummer grew up in the Deep South and planned to become a musician before he met poetry. This musical influence is visible in his work: he often discusses poetry together with music (and sometimes the other way around), and his career has included both writing and performance. The present volume, Available Surfaces, focuses on the art of making both poetry and music and on the concept of "making" as well. Hummer draws on childhood experiences (“A Length of Hemp Rope”), adult experiences (“Hotel California”), experiences as a poet (“Available Surfaces”), and experiences as an explorer of unworldly spaces (“The Hive,” “Brain Wave and the End of Science Fiction”). Hummer has published eight volumes of poetry with presses including Louisiana State University Press and the University of Illinois Press. His work has appeared in two anthology volumes published by Simon & Schuster and Cengage and in two Pushcart Prize anthologies. He has edited the Kenyon Review, the Georgia Review, and the Cimarron Review, among other journals.

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The Body of Poetry

Essays on Women, Form, and the Poetic Self

Annie Finch

The Body of Poetry collects essays, reviews, and memoir by Annie Finch, one of the brightest poet-critics of her generation. Finch's germinal work on the art of verse has earned her the admiration of a wide range of poets, from new formalists to hip-hop writers. And her ongoing commitment to women's poetry has brought Finch a substantial following as a "postmodern poetess" whose critical writing embraces the past while establishing bold new traditions. The Body of Poetry includes essays on metrical diversity, poetry and music, the place of women poets in the canon, and on poets Emily Dickinson, Phillis Wheatley, Sara Teasdale, Audre Lorde, Marilyn Hacker, and John Peck, among other topics. In Annie Finch's own words, these essays were all written with one aim: "to build a safe space for my own poetry. . . . [I]n the attempt, they will also have helped to nourish a new kind of American poetics, one that will prove increasingly open to poetry's heart." Poet, translator, and critic Annie Finch is director of the Stonecoast low-residency MFA program at the University of Southern Maine. She is co-editor, with Kathrine Varnes, of An Exaltation of Forms: Contemporary Poets Celebrate the Diversity of Their Art, and author of The Ghost of Meter: Culture and Prosody in American Free Verse, Eve, and Calendars. She is the winner of the eleventh annual Robert Fitzgerald Prosody Award for scholars who have made a lasting contribution to the art and science of versification.

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Coming After

Essays on Poetry

Alice Notley

Coming After gathers critical pieces by acclaimed poet Alice Notley, author of Mysteries of Small Houses and Disobedience. Notley explores the work of second-generation New York School poets and their allies: Ted Berrigan, Anne Waldman, Joanne Kyger, Ron Padgett, Lorenzo Thomas, and others. These essays and reviews are among the first to deal with a generation of poets notorious for their refusal to criticize and theorize, assuming the stance that "only the poems matter." The essays are characterized by Notley's strong, compelling voice, which transfixes the reader even in the midst of professional detail. Coming After revives the possibility of the readable book of criticism.

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Condition Red

Essays, Interviews, and Commentaries

Yusef Komunyakaa; Edited by Radiclani Clytus

Condition Red collects writing by one of America’s most gifted and revered poets, Yusef Komunyakaa. While themes from his earlier prose collection, Blue Notes, run through Condition Red, this volume expresses a greater sense of urgency about the human condition and the role of the artist. Condition Red includes his powerful letter to Poetry magazine, asserting that “we writers (artists) cannot forget that we are responsible for what we conjure and embrace through language, whether in essays, novels, plays, poems, or songs.” Also included are essays and interviews on: coming home to Bogalusa, Louisiana; the influence of religion on black poetry; language and eroticism; the visual artist Floyd Tunson; and the poets Robert Hayden, Walt Whitman, Clarence Major, and Etheridge Knight. The book features an extended introduction by editor Radiclani Clytus, who concludes that “Condition Red issues readers much more than a critical warning; it reminds us that our innate cultural capacity for language is, and always has been, the sum total of that which defines us.”

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Fables of Representation

Essays

Paul Hoover

From the acclaimed author of Winter (Mirror) and Rehearsal in Black, Fables of Representation is a powerful collection of essays on the state of contemporary poetry, free from the stultifying theoretical jargon of recent literary history. With its title essay, "Fables of Representation," one of the most cogent studies ever written of the New York School of poets (a group that includes the influential poet John Ashbery), this book is required reading for anyone who seeks to understand the poetry and culture of the postmodern period. Author Paul Hoover's wide-ranging subjects include African-American interdisciplinary studies; the position of poetry in the electronic age; the notion of doubleness in the work of Harryette Mullen and others; the lyricism of the New York School poets; and the role of reality in American poetry. Hoover also introduces two provocative essays sure to generate attention and discussion: "The Postmodern Era: A Final Exam" and "The New Millennium: Fifty Statements on Literature and Culture." Paul Hoover is the editor of the anthology Postmodern American Poetry and author of nine poetry collections, including Totem and Shadow: New and Selected Poems and Viridian. His poetry has appeared in American Poetry Review, The New Republic, and The Paris Review, among others. He is Poet-in-Residence at Columbia College, Chicago.

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The Game Changed

Essays and Other Prose

Lawrence Joseph

Praise for Lawrence Joseph:



"Poetry of great dignity, grace, and unrelenting persuasiveness… Joseph gives us new hope for the resourcefulness of humanity, and of poetry."
---John Ashbery



"Like Henry Adams, Joseph seems to be writing ahead of actual events, and that makes him one of the scariest writers I know."
---David Kirby, The New York Times Book Review



"The most important lawyer-poet of our era."
---David Skeel, Legal Affairs
 
 
 A volume in the Poets on Poetry series, which collects critical works by contemporary poets, gathering together the articles, interviews, and book reviews by which they have articulated the poetics of a new generation.



Essays on poetry by the most important poet-lawyer of our era



The Game Changed: Essays and Other Prose presents works by prominent poet and lawyer Lawrence Joseph that focus on poetry and poetics, and on what it is to be a poet. Joseph takes the reader through the aesthetics of modernism and postmodernism, a lineage that includes Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams, and Gertrude Stein, switching critical tracks to major European poets like Eugenio Montale and Hans Magnus Enzensberger, and back to American masters like James Schuyler and Adrienne Rich.



Always discerning, especially on issues of identity, form, and the pressures of history and politics, Joseph places his own poetry within its critical contexts, presenting narratives of his life in Detroit, where he grew up, and in Manhattan, where he has lived for 30 years. These pieces also portray Joseph’s Lebanese, Syrian, and Catholic heritages, and his life as a lawyer, distinguished law professor, and legal scholar.

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How Long Have You Been With Us?

Essays on Poetry

Khaled Mattawa

“As a writer starting out in the early 1990s,” Khaled Mattawa begins “Meet the Poet-Stranger,” the essay that opens this collection, “I wanted the company of fellow immigrants who worked in the language of their adopted homelands, chiseling away at their exile and making a home for themselves in poetry.” Throughout his career, Mattawa’s thoughtful and politically astute considerations of what it means to create as a “poet-stranger,” particularly for those of Middle Eastern heritage, have been steeped in his personal experience as a Libyan-American writer.

The essays included in this volume cover Mattawa’s approach toward translating contemporary and classical Arabic poetry, the personal and international politics of poetry, and the difficulty of representing one’s own family history in one’s own writing. The concluding piece, “Poems and Days (A Reader’s Memoir),” presents his deep engagement with the work of other poets during his formative years as a writer.

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The Necropastoral

Poetry, Media, Occults

Joyelle McSweeney

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Noise That Stays Noise

Essays

Cole Swensen

Praise for Cole Swensen:



"One of the most assured voices in contemporary poetry."
---Library Journal



"Engaging and delightful."
---Publishers Weekly
 
 A volume in the Poets on Poetry series, which collects critical works by contemporary poets, gathering together the articles, interviews, and book reviews by which they have articulated the poetics of a new generation.



Ezra Pound famously said that literature is "news that stays news," but recent experiments in poetry and the sciences allow us to enlarge the statement to bring information theory and biology to bear on the issue---in particular, how the information theory–based model of self-organization from noise offers a way to look at language as an art material as well as a mode of communication. This concept directs these essays on poetry by contemporary poet Cole Swensen.



Noise That Stays Noise covers a variety of subjects relevant to contemporary poetry and will give the general reader a broad notion of the issues that inform discourse around poetry today. Space---the conceptual geometry of poetry and its concrete mise-en-page---is an underlying theme of this collection, sometimes approached directly through the work of other twentieth-century poets, sometimes more obliquely through considerations of the role of the visual arts in contemporary poetry. This question of space and the shapes it includes and acquires offers a different way to look at some familiar writers, such as Mallarmé and Olson, and a way to introduce several more recent writers who may not yet be known to the general public.

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