In this Book

summary
In Earnest, Earnest?, the speaker, Eleanor, writes postcards to her on-again-off-again lover, Earnest. The fact that her lover’s name is Earnest and that their relationship is fraught, raises questions of sincerity and irony, and whether both can be present at the same time. While Earnest can be read literally as Eleanor’s lover, he is best understood as another side of the poet’s self. The ambiguity at play in Earnest, Earnest? is embodied in the form of the “Earnest Postcards” that structure the book—these postcards are experimental in their use of images and formal in their dialogue with the sonnet. Thus, Earnest, Earnest? is a question of tone, address, and form.
 
from "You Marry a Man"

You marry a man and you think his blood is red.
Turns out it’s not, it’s purple.
 
This doesn’t matter, is not why you married him,
but you did—you thought his blood was red.
 
And he has never read Shakespeare, knows nothing
of the quality of mercy, but he reminds you every
day that you are not Shakespeare.
 
You know you’re not Shakespeare, Eleanor, he says.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
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  1. Title Page, Copyright Page
  2. pp. i-vi
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  1. Contents
  2. pp. vii-2
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  1. The Heart Is Not a Synonym for the Chest
  2. pp. 3-5
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  1. [EARNEST POSTCARD]
  2. pp. 6-8
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  1. One Thousand Words on Regret
  2. p. 9
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  1. The Plenum
  2. pp. 10-12
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  1. Historically, We Haven't Taken Any Prisoners
  2. pp. 13-14
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  1. Scatter Plot
  2. pp. 15-16
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  1. [EARNEST POSTCARD]
  2. pp. 17-18
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  1. Bird's-Eye View
  2. pp. 19-22
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  1. Calm Down
  2. pp. 23-25
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  1. What You Are Eating as Metaphor for What You Want Right Now
  2. pp. 26-27
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  1. Wedding Planning
  2. p. 28
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  1. You Marry a Man
  2. pp. 29-34
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  1. Sonnet: Boston Proper
  2. pp. 35-36
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  1. The Ballad of Eleanor and Earnest
  2. pp. 37-41
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  1. If Tony Hoagland Was Right
  2. pp. 42-43
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  1. Pantoum for Earnest
  2. p. 44
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  1. [EARNEST POSTCARD]
  2. pp. 45-47
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  1. On Being and Dry-Cleaning: A Series of Steps
  2. pp. 48-63
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  1. [EARNEST POSTCARD]
  2. pp. 64-65
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  1. In the Cartoon Version of Your Life, Birds Sing in English
  2. pp. 66-68
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  1. Notes
  2. pp. 69-70
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  1. Acknowledgments
  2. pp. 71-72
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Additional Information

ISBN
9780822987895
Related ISBN
9780822966302
MARC Record
OCLC
1182881122
Pages
80
Launched on MUSE
2020-08-10
Language
English
Open Access
No
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