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$4.10 list($29.95)
1. The Language of Life
$57.00 $14.95
2. Radio Corpse: Imagism and the
$75.00 $73.50
3. Poetics of the Feminine : Authority
$12.75 list($15.00)
4. Like a Complete Unknown: The Poetry
$11.53 $11.30 list($16.95)
5. Democracy, Culture and the Voice
$2.15 list($26.00)
6. What Lips My Lips Have Kissed:
$45.00 $42.12
7. Institutions of Modernism: Literary
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8. Disappearing Ink : Poetry at the
$65.00 $62.96
9. The Poetics of National and Racial
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10. Poetry for Students: Presenting
$29.95 $23.66
11. The Obligation Toward the Difficult
$16.95 $6.98
12. Writing Like a Woman (Poets on
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13. Aesthetic Headaches: Women and
$23.99 $12.90
14. Genders, Races, and Religious
15. Can Poetry Matter?: Essays on
16. T. S. Eliot, Wallace Stevens and
$20.50 $16.99
17. American Poetry and Culture, 1945-1980
$19.95 $16.00
18. Translating the Unspeakable: Poetry
$8.95 $5.94
19. Walking With Thomas Merton: Discovering
$24.95 $19.75
20. Poetry and the Public: The Social

1. The Language of Life
list price: $29.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0385479174
Catlog: Book (1995-06-01)
Publisher: Doubleday
Sales Rank: 142080
Average Customer Review: 4.11 out of 5 stars
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In a series of fascinating conversations with thirty-four American poets, and in dozens of poems, The Language of Life celebrates language in its "most exalted, wrenching, delighted, and concentrated form," and its unique power to re-create the human experience: falling in love, facing death, leaving home, playing basketball, losing faith, finding God. Poets speak with Moyers about their work, their lives, and their creativity. In the tradition of the bestsellingHealing and the Mind and The Power of Myth. ... Read more

Reviews (9)

5-0 out of 5 stars I JUST LOVE IT!
ok...i tell u why i love this book...or let's say audio cassettes.
well,when i started listening to these cassettes i got this weird feeling of being invloved in every single story they said, starting imagining the poets themselves. the way the music was displayed and the characters introduced..i was just overwhelmed.
maybe i am not an expert in english poetry but i enjoyed this collection BIG TIME!!

3-0 out of 5 stars Better Poetry Books Can be Found
Looking back on this book, I guess it's that I wanted to like it so much more than I did. What a great concept! Take a variety of modern poets, interview them and get them talking about their works alongside the poetry. Now you see the expectations in such a book to poetry lovers everywhere. But after owning the book for 7-odd (and they have been) years, I rarely find myself going back to it after the initial read. Why is that? Let me try to tell you.

Moyers indeed takes a variety of poets to interview, from recognized greats such as W.S. Merwin, Rita Dove, Donald Hall, Adrienne Rich, Ocatavio Paz to name a few to lesser known (at least to me) poets such as, Garrett Kaoru Hongo, Dekou Sundiata, and Mary Tall Mountain. Some of the interviews are fascinating as one would expect them to be. But the majority of them drag on. Instead of making the language come alive, the power of the poetry is diluted when it is talked about. Give credit to Moyers for attempting the project and to opening up his purview beyond the academically accepted greats and beyond strictly English-writing poets. For that Moyers is to be commended, but the end effect leaves the reader wanting for more.

I have gotten so much more from any on the "Best American Poetry" series or a little known poetry compilation called "The Generation of 2000," for the sheer love of poetry and learning about poets, than Moyers' book. As for non-English poets, buy the bilingual editions (Paz's collected poems, Neruda's selected poems, etc) even though you don't speak or understand the original language. It's a must to see and hear how the poetry was intended to sound and also be able to read it in a language you understand.

4-0 out of 5 stars A strong collection with a few really good interviews
It is almost impossible to please everyone with a collection. Why was this poet included? Or you included him/her and didn't include this poem... Are you insane? The benefit of an anthology is that it can introduce the reader to poets that they may otherwise never come in contact with. To that end, I am thankful to Moyers for introducing me to the work of James A. Autry and Lucille Clifton. I also enjoyed many, but not all, of the interviews. This was a good book. If you are interested in poetry but aren't sure where to start, this collection will introduce you to a wide variety of styles. I am sure you will find something you like, and it will be worth the effort.

5-0 out of 5 stars Thanks, Mr. Moyers. What a Gift!
I nearly didn't buy this tape series after reading some of the blase reviews. I'm so glad I listened to my intuition (which basically said, "Bill Moyers had broadened your world in the past. Why would he let you down here?") Whew. Always listen to your intuition.

I've listened to poetry tapes in the past but, for me, this fantastic series is a rarity -- it captures the interaction and intimacy of live poetry readings. It's art-in-a-box. Highly recommended to all artists and spiritual seekers..... Another bonus? My husband, who always cast a wary eye toward poetry, is now attending poetry readings after listening to these tapes and finally experiencing for himself the profound power of this medium.

Thank you, Mr. Moyers! And please, please, please come out with another series like this.

5-0 out of 5 stars Poetry alive & breathing
The companion book to Moyers' PBS series "The Power of the Word" and "The Language of Life," which brought to a national audience the vigorous living poetry of a number of contemporary poets from the U.S. and abroad. Poetry is not the dead old thing critics like Harold Bloom and Helen Vendler would have us believe it is: this series, and this book, puts it into the ears and mouths of the people, to our betterment. ... Read more

2. Radio Corpse: Imagism and the Cryptaesthetic of Ezra Pound
by Daniel Tiffany
list price: $57.00
our price: $57.00
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Asin: 0674746627
Catlog: Book (1995-10-01)
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Sales Rank: 329402
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3. Poetics of the Feminine : Authority and Literary Tradition in William Carlos Williams, Mina Loy, Denise Levertov, and Kathleen Fraser (Cambridge Studies in American Literature and Culture)
by Linda A. Kinnahan
list price: $75.00
our price: $75.00
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Asin: 0521451272
Catlog: Book (1994-03-25)
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Sales Rank: 688318
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Book Description

This book examines the early work of William Carlos Williams in relationship to a women's tradition of American poetry, as represented by Mina Loy, Denise Levertov and Kathleen Fraser--three generations of women poets working in or directly from a modernist tradition.Linda Kinnahan traces notions of the feminine and the maternal that develop as Williams seeks to create a modern poetics.Positioning Williamas in relationship to these three generations of Anglo-American women, the book pursues two questions: what can women poets, writing with an informed awareness of Williams, teach us about his modernist poetics of contact, and just as importantly, what can they teach us about the process, for women, of constructing a self within a male-dominated tradition? ... Read more

4. Like a Complete Unknown: The Poetry of Bob Dylan's Songs, 1961-1969
by John Hinchey
list price: $15.00
our price: $12.75
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Asin: 0972359206
Catlog: Book (2002-10-23)
Publisher: Stealing Home Pr
Sales Rank: 13489
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

This study explores the poetry of Dylan’s songs from his first album, Bob Dylan (1962), through Nashville Skyline (1969). It covers all the officially released albums of new material from that period. Some attention is given to almost every original song on those albums, and to some songs--singles, outtakes, demos, and other stray songs--not included on the albums.

The first chapter treats only a single song, "Like a Rolling Stone," and the second covers Dylan’s first two albums, both of which are miscellanies. After that, each chapter treats a single album (though the discussion of Blonde on Blonde takes up two chapters), and in these chapters, some attention is given both to the individual songs and to their place in the context of the album. Decisions about what to emphasize and what to gloss over are based partly on Hinchey’s judgments about the relative worth of each song or album and partly on his instinct for what is interesting or undiscovered about them.

Given Dylan’s history of perpetual self-transformation as an artist, the critical approach is necessarily flexible, varying from album to album and even song to song. But there is a recurrent theme. The most distinctive feature of Dylan’s poetry, Hinchey argues, is the way it is implicitly shaped by the changes (as Dylan imagines them) that are induced in his listener in response to the song as it unfolds. As the lyric unfolds, "you," the listener, are changed by what "you" hear, and anticipating these changes in the "you" he is addressing, Dylan’s perception of and attitude toward "you" changes correspondingly. Moreover, these changes in his perception of "you" provoke in turn adjustments in his perception of and attitude toward himself. Dylan’s characteristic song is seen as a duet for solo voice. ... Read more

Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Tells You How It Feels
A fine addition to your Dylan library. One of the few books to deal with Dylan's output with the respect and insight it deserves. Thankfully the book is on the songs rather than the life of Bob Dylan.

With the insight of an academic yet using fully accessible, virtually jargon free, prose Mr. Hinchey's takes us on a journey through Bob Dylan's 1960's work answering the question "How Does It Feel".

A convincing thesis is laid out in the introduction and expounded in the following chapters. You don't have to agree with all the interpretations to still get a lot out of them. Having said which I have rarely agreed with as many.

5-0 out of 5 stars Superbly illuminating!
It's great to finally read a serious, subtle reading of Dylan's evocative but often mysterious lyrics. Hinchey regards Dylan as a major poet, and his book provides powerful support for that view. Classics heard many times like "It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)" take on richer, brighter colors after reading "Like a Complete Unknown." ... Read more

5. Democracy, Culture and the Voice of Poetry (University Center for Human Values)
by Robert Pinsky
list price: $16.95
our price: $11.53
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Asin: 0691096171
Catlog: Book (2002-09-03)
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Sales Rank: 522566
Average Customer Review: 3 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The place of poetry in modern democracy is no place, according to conventional wisdom. The poet, we hear, is a casualty of mass entertainment and prosaic public culture, banished to the artistic sidelines to compose variations on insipid themes for a dwindling audience. Robert Pinsky, however, argues that this gloomy diagnosis is as wrongheaded as it is familiar. Pinsky, whose remarkable career as a poet itself undermines the view, writes that to portray poetry and democracy as enemies is to radically misconstrue both. The voice of poetry, he shows, resonates with profound themes at the very heart of democratic culture.

There is no one in America better to write on this topic. One of the country's most accomplished poets, Robert Pinsky served an unprecedented two terms as America's Poet Laureate (1997-2000) and led the immensely popular multimedia Favorite Poem Project, which invited Americans to submit and read aloud their favorite poems. Pinsky draws on his experiences and on characteristically sharp and elegant observations of individual poems to argue that expecting poetry to compete with show business is to mistake its greatest democratic strength--its intimate, human scale--as a weakness.

As an expression of individual voice, a poem implicitly allies itself with ideas about individual dignity that are democracy's bedrock, far more than is mass participation. Yet poems also summon up communal life.. Even the most inward-looking work imagines a reader. And in their rhythms and cadences poems carry in their very bones the illusion and dynamic of call and response. Poetry, Pinsky writes, cannot help but mediate between the inner consciousness of the individual reader and the outer world of other people. As part of the entertainment industry, he concludes, poetry will always be small and overlooked. As an art--and one that is inescapably democratic--it is massive and fundamental.

... Read more

Reviews (4)

3-0 out of 5 stars A middle-ground defense of poetry
As a poet, critic, and as Poet Laureate, a literary activist, Pinsky has been a significant force in recent efforts to comprehend relationships between American poetry and culture. This volume summarizes his efforts to "consider the voice of poetry [...] within the culture of American democracy, amid the tensions of pluralism." Although Marxists and Post-structuralists will likely find the unquestioned humanism implicit in Pinsky's argument suspect, he nevertheless offers pragmatic arguments for situating poetry's cultural and political role in American society and for understanding the social value of private art. He emphasizes how the diverse character of America has led to a "fantastic" experience of memory that "exaggerates the anxieties of uniformity and memory" in a nevertheless positive role of resistance to the "apparently total successes" of colonization. Poetry's function in the process of cultural memory lends a bodily quality to the "solitary voice" and defends human-scale perceptions and judgments from the leveling effects of mass-scale culture. For Pinsky, the "solitude of lyric [...] invokes a social presence." Integral, is poetry's intrinsic vocality, creating a force that "originates within the reader" but "gestures outward" to "alert us to the presence of another or others." Thus poetry, though inherently personal, is nevertheless "far from solipsistic" in its invocation of audience. Pinsky distinguishes this outward-reaching interiority from more performative arts such as drama, music, and slam, and stresses it as poetry's source of enduring strength. Efforts to transform poetry into performance, from this view, doom it to irrelevance because of its inability to compete with the influence of the entertainment industry. As an essentially socially-based convention, poetry's formal qualities also play an outward-reaching role in its social praxis, but unlike the more apocalyptic proclamations of formalists like Dana Gioia, Pinsky's calm advancement of a theory of form's function avoids reductively polarized (form versus free verse) polemics and thus supports a broader endorsement of the genre's social efficacy. Although far from comprehensive, Pinsky offers a teachable counterpoint to more dire political assessments from both the right and left wings of the poetry wars.

3-0 out of 5 stars The Heat of Middle Water
Sober, judicious, temperate, suave, Pinsky considers poetry's place in our high-tech democracy with all the passion of a required civics course. Nary an insight will trouble anyone's sleep in NPR, MacNeill/Lehrer America, and that's a shame, because poetry at its best is a whole lot hotter than that. Pinsky's a deft explainer and he keeps his good-natured balance in the midst of a very acrimonious and fragmented field. But I think those qualities mitigate against the kind of fire we need to shake poetry loose from the warm academic middle, whose virtues and limitations Pinksy embodies in every line of his prose.

5-0 out of 5 stars A great short read
Short, punchy, and nicely designed. Pinsky doesn't waste words. If you want to read a modern manifesto in defence of poetry, this is it. It's easy to dump on Pinsky because he's in the public eye so much, but this at least shows he's there because he has a brain. And who can complain about a poet being a star?

1-0 out of 5 stars Too Big a Picture of "Him"
Pinsky should take some time out to rest his ego and perhaps he will get back to thinking seriously about poetry rather than himself. "Jersey Rain" was bad, but this very small book with very big type is worse. The Narcissist is definitely in. ... Read more

6. What Lips My Lips Have Kissed: The Loves and Love Poems of Edna St. Vincent Millay
by Daniel Mark Epstein
list price: $26.00
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Asin: 0805067272
Catlog: Book (2001-09-01)
Publisher: John MacRae Books
Sales Rank: 453230
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Poet, playwright, and translator Daniel Mark Epstein certainly has the right background to understand and evaluate poet, playwright, and translator Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950)--though Millay didn't write biographies. Readers of Epstein's Sister Aimee and Nat King Cole will recognize the intense personal engagement the author brings to his task. He's not afraid to express an almost physical fascination for his subjects, which is especially appropriate for the flamboyant Millay, who insisted on the right to take as many lovers as she pleased and to write about them in some of the greatest erotic poetry in American verse. Epstein focuses on that poetry, deciphering the affairs that fueled it and elucidating the boldly iconoclastic, almost cynical acceptance of love's fleeting nature that informs it. (Of the last sonnet in A Few Figs from Thistles, with its notorious putdown, "I shall forget you presently, my dear / So make the most of this, your little day," he remarks: "For a woman, not yet thirty, to compose and market such a poem... was a scandal, an alarm, and a red flag to censors.") While the Edna St. Vincent Millay who emerges in Nancy Milford's Savage Beauty is indelibly shaped by her upbringing, particularly her relationship with her mother and sisters, Epstein's Millay is a self-created goddess of love and literature. It's fascinating to compare these two biographies, published nearly simultaneously and each with considerable merits. Milford's lengthy book, the product of three decades of research, is lavish with details and comprehensive in scope. Epstein's more selective work excels in cogent summaries and forcefully stated opinions. Either book will satisfy readers with an interest in Millay or American literature; really passionate aficionados of the art of biography will want to read both. --Wendy Smith ... Read more

Reviews (6)

4-0 out of 5 stars What Lips My Lips Have Kissed.....
Mr. Epstein's passion for his subject was the first attractor for me upon reading this well written, intriguing biography of Edna St. Vincent Millay, specifically focusing on her very tumultuous love life and the poetry which was birthed due to her romantic and [physical relations].

The prose reads like Mr. Epstein has fallen in love with Edna just as the many men in her path fell in love with her.

I also found the diversions which came later (like the horse Chaladon) and her well known descent into alcoholism and drug addiction were very compelling to dive into: I would have appreciated more of these times, although the limited documentation available would explain why there isn't more information here.

This book does its job well: makes me more curious about Edna St. Vincent Millay: from her poetry, her plays and her life outside the written word.

5-0 out of 5 stars Terrific reading
Daniel Mark Epstein brings a special understanding to Edna St Vincent Millay's biography by virtue of being a poet himself. I think that's why this book is in many ways superior to the Nancy Mitford book.

Edna St Vincent Millay was not only a great person of words, but a great seductress and everyone, male and female alike, fell under her spell. Apparently, accordingly to this book, she managed to live up to their expectations quite well. Mr Epstein matches the love poems to the folks they were written for and gives the details of the various affairs. It may not sound interesting, but it is quite interesting - especially since M's Millay seemed to have a weakness for men who were not quite as talented as she was. The background behind "Fatal Interview" and the story of her (apparently) one love she lost before_she_ was ready to is quite an interesting read by itself.

Mr Epstein focuses on M's Millay as sort of a self made goddess and how her various affairs shaped her writing. M's Mitford focuses on how M's Millay's relationship with her mother shaped her life. Both of these are very interesting and I'd advise reading them consecutively and draw your own conclusions. In some respects, I think Mr Epstein is correct in what he presumes, but the same can be said of M's Mitford.

Throw yourself into the words and life of Edna St Vincent Millay - you'll find yourself awash with her beautiful poetry and prose and this book will help you make sense out of it.

4-0 out of 5 stars enamored of Millay
Daniel Mark Epstein, like so many men of her own time, is obviously enamored of Edna St. Vincent Millay. He urges that she be restored to the "canon",although her work has not been lauded in recent years.

The intense, highly emotional poet comes alive in the pages of his well-researched book. She comes to us as a rebel, determined to live on her own terms, to make love with the freedom of a man,to explore the ecstatic heights of feeling. (Shelley, the author tells us, was her idol.)

A central point that I feel Epstein misses is that, although she may have escaped the feminine role dictated by conventions of her time, she did not escape her own compulsion to make the search for love the driving force of her actions. Her poetry also has as its overriding theme, romantic and sexual love. For this reason she missed achieving stature as a great poet. Even though she possessed a great facility for language, her works are too limited in scope.

Her eventual descent into alcoholism and drug addiction can serve as a cautionary tale against the wild self-indulgence and perpetual adolescence that plagued Millay. It must be said, however, that her verbal gifts were so great that even in the midst of her addled despair in later life, she was able still to produce, although the work then was of lesser quality.

Kudoes for Epstein's carefully researched, comprehensive biography.

4-0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive Survey of This Poet's Life
This biography was a fast and furious read, due to the great anecdotes as well as the tightly-written analysis. Ms. Millay's life was a whirlwind and many heretofore unknown facts and episodes are revealed, adding richness to the typical chronological description of this writer's life. Ms. Millay was more than a writer, she was a full-blown creative personality, in a time when to do so as a woman from a modest background was virtually unheard of. Even for those who do not know her poems or do not usually read literary biography, this book documents a fascinating woman's life and is well worth picking up.

5-0 out of 5 stars What a GREAT READ!!!
This compellingly readable, lushly evocative biography focuses on the lovers and the love affairs that inspired Millay's best-known poetry. While Millay capitalized on her public image as a jazz-age "free spirit"--reckless, heedless and enjoying every minute-- her life story reads like a great, tragic Romantic novel.
Millay's hardscrabble childhood in turn-of-the(20th)-century Maine is so vividly conjured in Epstein's story, you can just about smell the smoke from the cast iron stove as she careens between the crushing responsibility of caring for her younger sisters and the imaginative escape she forged through music, theater and poetry. Through a combination of sly manipulation, talent and sheer luck, Millay went from being an arty local eccentric to a national celebrity--the cynosure of the Manhattan literary scene--at the age of 20, virtually overnight. The seemingly incongruous combination of her porcelain-doll looks and unabashedly passionate (yet formally rigorous) poetry acted like catnip for her contemporaries, men and women alike: she looked like an angel, behaved like a libertine, and packed an intellectual wallop equal to that of any man. Epstein describes the compulsive pace at which, during the height of her poetic production, Millay conducted many, often simultaneous, love affairs, lavishing indifference on the legions who worshipped her image and reputation, and suffering agonizing unrequited passion for the (relatively few) others.
By focusing on the most significant affairs and linking them (with impressive use of both painstaking scholarship and critical insight)to specific poems, Epstein incisively portrays the emotional pitch of the time without getting bogged down in endless lists of names, dates and locations. By crafting the narrative in this way, Epstein selects and contextualizes Millay's own words and documented actions to show--not tell-- how both physical illness and a likely manic-depressive disorder spiralled under the pressure to live up to her own legend. This is masterful storytelling, through and through.
Much as she was rescued, "deus ex machina" from an small-time life in Maine by a dowager patroness, Millay was rescued again in 1923, this time from life-threatening illness and despondency by a real-life Romantic hero (a Belgian Mr. Darcy?), whom she had the good sense to marry. While he set aside his own business to support her work and to shelter her from the strain of public and critical scrutiny, their idyllic rural marriage scenario stultified her creativity. Millay's dogged pursuit (with her husband's active consent) of an affair with a reluctant younger man is affectingly portrayed as a desperate, unconsciously delusional act of self-abasement in the service of her own (fading) sexual persona and the poetry which that persona had always sponsored so reliably. And it worked: great sonnets happened, albeit at no small cost. The waning of this affair, plus a series of illnesses and accidents, provided a host of pretexts for Millay's descent into astoundingly heavy-duty drug addiction and alcoholism. Epstein conveys the wrenching pathos of her repeated struggles to overcome these addictions, with--and, later, without-- her husband's devoted help. Set into this context, excerpts from her journals and letters illuminate a more richly layered, genuine and fragile Millay than other biographies even begin to approach.
Epstein--a highly accomplished poet himself--thankfully resists the temptation to psychoanalyze, sensationalize or turn Millay's life story into a morality tale. Instead, this beautifully-written, insightful and engaging feat of storytelling captures the essence of a real-life Romantic spirit who made poetry the only way she knew how--by living it. ... Read more

7. Institutions of Modernism: Literary Elites and Public Culture (Henry Mcbride Series in Modernism and Modernity)
by Lawrence Rainey
list price: $45.00
our price: $45.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0300070500
Catlog: Book (1999-01-01)
Publisher: Yale University Press
Sales Rank: 454375
Average Customer Review: 3 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

This book recounts new and startling stories about five major modernist figures--James Joyce, T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, H. D., and F. T. Marinetti--whose individual tales offer fresh perspectives on the larger story of modernism itself.The author explores why the cultural status of literary modernism became increasingly troubled and how the public and the cultural and literary elites became mutually estranged.

Henry McBride Series in Modernism and Modernity

. ... Read more

Reviews (7)

2-0 out of 5 stars Great Book for Driving!
I'm an unusually short man (4'11"), so I find that "Institutions of Modernism" is the perfect book to sit on while I'm driving my car. I was using the phonebook for a while, but that was a hassle -- I mean, the phonebook actually has useful information it. But not this book, boy howdy. Thanks to Mr. Rainey, I can now view oncoming traffic.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Book for Real!
I couldn't put this book down. This is the BEST treatment of modernists in the marketplace that I've read. It was groundbreaking (a few years ago), darn eloquent, a great story.

4-0 out of 5 stars Great Book!
TO characterize this treatise as soporific would be to devalue actual sleep, which any reader of this book- more of a phone book than a work of criticism- will experience in short order. This book makes narcoleptics of all of us: on the back cover should be a warning not to read it before operating heavy machinery, not to drive, etc. But Rainey doesn't just read modernist texts, he lists them. This book is what you would carry in your handback if you went grocery shopping for modernism late at night. Despite this fact, Rainey's prose remains remarkably listless. One hardly remembers finishing the previous sentence as one moves on to the next. I didn't know whether I was reading about Joyce or eating Chinese food. This book could do without punctuation- the book would then be shorter by 100 pages. But then again, those commas and periods are much needed- they are the generous pauses the author allows his reader,peaceful caesuras in which we are spared Rainey's unending siege. What a foul sleep this book puts us through. My advice is to put it aside: choose tranquility over Rainey's tranquilizer.

2-0 out of 5 stars how not to do things with words
Language, as Mr. Rainey so skillfully demonstrates, can be pummelled and pressed into a characterless mush, with all the texture and taste of a soggy, uncooked soup noodle. In that sense, "Institutions of Modernism: Literary Elites and Public Culture" is instantly recognizable as a new classic of absurdist literary history, a sort of inverted "Flowers for Algernon," in which the initial promise of intellectual thought gradually recedes to reveal a tragic and yawning imbecility. Mr. Rainey leads us, unerringly I believe, through the foggy crannies of a stark academic mind, a mind tortured by a dull torpor that lumbers off of every page and seeps into the reader's very pores. It's a brilliant exhibition of the dangers of the tenure process, and we can only applaud for Mr. Rainey for manifesting it with such exhaustive precision. "Institutions of Modernism" -- and this is where Mr. Rainey's argument is at its most persuasive -- is not just a book about reading. It is, as Mr. Rainey implicitly reiterates, a book about not reading. And this process of "not reading" is something that Mr. Rainey not only ceaselessly performs, but it is also a practice in which future readers of Mr. Rainey will undoubtedly wish to engage.

1-0 out of 5 stars How did this book get in my series?
There goes there neighborhood. ... Read more

8. Disappearing Ink : Poetry at the End of Print Culture
by Dana Gioia
list price: $16.00
our price: $10.88
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1555974104
Catlog: Book (2004-10-01)
Publisher: Graywolf Press
Sales Rank: 125733
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The Celebrated poet and author of Can Poetry Matter?offers another bold, insightful collection of essays on literature's changing place in contemporary culture

Poetry is an art that preceded writing, and it will survive television and video games . . . The problem won't be finding an audience. The challenge will be writing well enough to deserve one.

In Disappearing Ink, Dana Gioia stakes the claim for poetry's place amid American popular culture, where poetry in its latest oral forms -rap, slam, performance-is transforming the traditional literary culture of the printed page. But, as the seminal title essay asks, "What is a conscientious critic supposed to do with an Eminem or Jay-Z?" In a brilliant array of essays that test the pulse of traditional and contemporary poetry, Gioia ponders the future of the written word and how it might find its most relevant incarnation.

With the clarity, wit, and feisty intelligence that made Can Poetry Matter? one of the most important and controversial books about literature and contemporary American society, Gioia again demonstrates his unique abilities of observation and uncanny prognostication to examine our complicated everyday relationship to art.
... Read more

Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Intelligent, provocative, and well-reasoned.
Ever since the publication of "Can Poetry Matter?" the essayist and Formalist poet Dana Gioia has been one of the most polarizing figures in the current literary world. The controversy around Gioia redoubled when he accepted President Bush's invitation to become chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, causing more left-leaning poets to accuse him of "selling out." While I don't agree with everything Gioia says, and I'm certainly further to the left than he is, I think his opinions on the current state of poetry are never less than interesting and usually salutary. For instance, I couldn't agree more that poetry and music go well together on the same program, or that poets should mix their own work in public readings with favorite poems by others. Above all, Gioia has been a forceful advocate for poets in general and for the traditional craft of poetry in particular, and my hat is off to him for that. In "Disappearing Ink," his latest collection of essays, Gioia once again waves a red cape in the face of the academic establishment, banderilla at the ready. (Example: in the title essay, Gioia notes, "Attend an academic literary conference these days and you are more likely to hear, as I recently did, papers on the design of the Los Angeles freeway system as an expression of phallocentric power or gender-coding in breakfast cereal advertising than you are to find examinations of contemporary poetry.") The title essay, which discusses how the poetry scene is changing as the printed word gives way to the information highway, is a provocative yet common-sense examination of rap, cowboy poetry, performance poetry and other avenues poetry is taking toward survival in the 21st century. Gioia provides much reading pleasure in his discussion of various subjects, from the decline of San Francisco as an active literary center to the history of Italian-American poetry. He is at his most enjoyable when he comes to the defense of poets he admires, from misjudged classic poets (Longfellow, Frost) to underappreciated contemporary poets (John Haines, Samuel Menashe, Kay Ryan). He champions some poets you wouldn't expect him to defend, such as the late Jack Spicer, an openly gay San Francisco Bohemian who would be anathema to many in the Bush administration. His observations are nearly always astute, such as when he delineates the reasons why Elizabeth Bishop--whom he clearly reveres, but who doesn't really fit current poetic fashion--is a poetic god today: "During the bitterly divisive culture wars of the past quarter-century, Bishop could simultaneously appear on both sides of nearly every issue--the ally of both reformer and traditionalist, patron saint to both radical and reactionary--not to mention those beleaguered pilgrims traveling steadfastly in the middle of the road." Basically, Gioia just calls them the way he sees them, which is what a literary critic is supposed to do--except that too many have pulled their punches recently, to try and fit in with the tide of current opinion. Above all, Gioia believes in the art of poetry, and has faith that it will survive--in his words, "(m)ostly by being itself--concise, immediate, emotive, memorable, and musical, the qualities most prized in the new oral culture, which are also the virtues traditionally associated with the art." I wish I'd said that. ... Read more

9. The Poetics of National and Racial Identity in Nineteenth-Century American Literature (Cambridge Studies in American Literature and Culture)
by John D. Kerkering
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Asin: 0521831148
Catlog: Book (2003-12-11)
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Sales Rank: 1286384
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Book Description

Examining the literary history of racial and national identity in nineteenth-century America, John Kerkering argues that writers such as DuBois, Hawthorne and Whitman used poetic effect to emphasize the distinctiveness of certain groups against a diffuse social landscape. Kerkering tells the story of how poetry helped define America as a nation before helping to define America into distinct racial categories.He concludes that through a shared reliance on formal literary effects, national and racial identities become related elements of a single literary history. ... Read more

10. Poetry for Students: Presenting Analysis, Context and Criticism on Commonly Studied Poetry (Poetry for Students)
list price: $92.00
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Asin: 0787616885
Catlog: Book (1997-10-01)
Publisher: Thomson Gale
Sales Rank: 694242
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (1)

This book has poetry criticism for the most popular poems studied in the high school and college students. It also includes the complete text for each poem reviewed. This book is excellent for a smaller library that cant afford to buy 72 volumes of literary criticisms. ... Read more

11. The Obligation Toward the Difficult Whole: Postmodernist Long Poems (Modern Contemporary Poetics)
by Brian McHale
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Asin: 0817350373
Catlog: Book (2004-01-01)
Publisher: University of Alabama Press
Sales Rank: 484125
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12. Writing Like a Woman (Poets on Poetry)
by Alicia Suskin Ostriker
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Asin: 0472063472
Catlog: Book (1983-04-15)
Publisher: University of Michigan Press
Sales Rank: 767750
Average Customer Review: 4 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Essays on women poets and on the relationship between gender and creativity
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Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating! A must-have guide for any aspiring author!
Alicia Ostriker's marvelous guide to writing is not only unique in it's format and style, but is simply a wonderful guide for how to capture the essence of the increasingly popular women's writing movement. Oprah's book club has really increased interest in women's writing, with authors such as Jane Hamilton, Janet Fitch, and Ursula Hegi, to mention just a few. Doubtless, many aspiring writers have wanted to capture that same magic that makes those books so appealing--and this book is the first step! It is compulsively readable, immensely encouraging, and ultimately, a supreme, unparalleled guide to becoming a better, more readable writer. The only thing that prevents this book from receiving Amazon's highest rating is that there could have been more exercises and there still seemed enough information left out to warrant another book or perhaps a series. Nonetheless, this is an extremely enlightening guide and well worth its purchase price. Bravo! ... Read more

13. Aesthetic Headaches: Women and Masculine Poetics in Poe, Melville, and Hawthorne
by Leland S. Person
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Asin: 0820309850
Catlog: Book (1988-07-01)
Publisher: Univ of Georgia Pr
Sales Rank: 1386276
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14. Genders, Races, and Religious Cultures in Modern American Poetry, 1908-1934 (Cambridge Studies in American Literature and Culture)
by Rachel Blau DuPlessis
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Asin: 0521483352
Catlog: Book (2001-01-11)
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Sales Rank: 772934
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Book Description

In this book, Rachel Blau DuPlessis shows how, through poetic language, modernist writers represented the debates around such social issues of modernity as suffrage, sexuality, manhood, and African-American and Jewish subjectivities. DuPlessis engages with the work of such canonical poets as Wallace Stevens, Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, William Carlos Williams, Gertrude Stein, Marianne Moore and H. D., as well as Mina Loy, Countee Cullen, Alfred Kreymborg and Langston Hughes, writers still marginalized by existing constructions of modernism. ... Read more

15. Can Poetry Matter?: Essays on Poetry and American Culture
by Dana Gioia
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Asin: 1555971768
Catlog: Book (1992-09-01)
Publisher: Graywolf Press
Sales Rank: 926145
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In 1991, Dana Gioia's provocative essay "Can Poetry Matter?" was published in the Atlantic Monthly,and received more public response than any other piece in the magazine's history. In his book, Gioia more fully addressed the question: Is there a place for poetry to be part of modern American mainstream culture? Ten years later, the debate is as lively and heated as ever. Graywolf is pleased to re-issue this highly acclaimed collection in a handsome new edition, which includes a new Introduction by distinguished critic and poet, Dana Gioia.
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Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Poetry Makes Nothing Happen
The title essay repeats arguments made by Joseph Epstein, John Aldridge, and many others over the years that literary culture has retreated to the university and lost its public appeal. Poetry has degenerated into a subculture and, at its worst, a counterculture. Gioia (Joy-a) closes his arguments with six sober proposals for revitalizing poetry, all of which merit consideration.

Given that Gioia was vice president of General Mills for fifteen years, it isunsurprising that he would be drawn to poets who, like himself, and unlike the bulk of poets today, made their own way in the world. By earning a living in the commercial world rather than through subsidized poetry programs or the kindness of strangers, he has much in common with William Carlos Williams (pediatrician), T. S. Eliot (banker), Wallace Stevens (corporate lawyer), and Ted Kooser (insurance). "Business and Poetry" is the most interesting essay here, except that it contains one of Gioia's few false notes. In describing suicide and alcoholism as fairly typical to American poets, he implies that poetry itself leads to self-destruction, which is not so much analysis as it is melodrama.

Yet the subject is fascinating, and I have often wondered how Eliot and Stevens balanced the aggression of the business world with an art that by definition makes nothing happen. Gioia shores up appreciation for other poets who for various reasons have been out of fashion: the forgotten Robinson Jeffers, the neglected Weldon Kees, sci-fi novelist Tom Disch, and the unknown Hoosier poet Jared Carter.

In the quest to revitalize poetry, Gioia is sympathetic to the New Formalist school, whose methods have included a return to high critical standards and the intellectual rigors of rhyme, meter, and narrative. This comes after decades of dominance by free verse, much of which has been undisciplined and sentimental. The worst of Robert Bly, for example, Gioia takes to task for asking the reader "to experience more emotion than the poet generates."

This leads to my last point that Gioia's criticism, aside from being charitable and measured, teaches something about criticism and about how to read and judge poetry. It does so, moreover, in a plain, accessible style that fulfills one of his goals for poetry: that it reach a broader audience and win back the intelligent, reading public.

4-0 out of 5 stars An insightful book
The title essay in this book is by far the most important.It's well worth at least checking this book out from a library just to read that first essay.As a poet in an MFA program, I am currently experiencing the severance from the rest of society and alienation from literary criticism that Gioia describes so well.He's right on target.I'm not sure about some of his prescriptions for moving poetry back into public interest (i.e. reading from the work of other poets at one of your own readings), but the fact that he is able to articulate poetry's problems so well should at least get writers thinking about our own solutions.Incidentally, the rest of the essays do decline in quality through the course of the book, but I nevertheless found the final essay on New Formalism worthwhile.I actually didn't know much about the movement other than some mildly disparaging remarks made by various professors during workshop, so Gioia's perspective was refreshing.

4-0 out of 5 stars opening essays of book are essential reading for our age
The Kirkus review of "Can Poetry Matter?" is pretty much right on target.The opening essays of the book are a necessary (and necessarily condemnatory) critique on the current state of poetry in America.The articles on Kees, Jeffers, etc., are less impressive, and the review reprints which end the book are even less so.Still, the strength of the first few essays outweighs these drawbacks. ... Read more

16. T. S. Eliot, Wallace Stevens and the Discourses of Difference
by Michael Beehler
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Asin: 0807112690
Catlog: Book (1987-01-01)
Publisher: Louisiana State University Press
Sales Rank: 1663851
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17. American Poetry and Culture, 1945-1980
by Robert Von Hallberg
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Asin: 0674030125
Catlog: Book (1988-09-01)
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Sales Rank: 317945
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18. Translating the Unspeakable: Poetry and the Innovative Necessity (Modern and Contemporary Poetics)
by Kathleen Fraser
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Asin: 081730990X
Catlog: Book (1999-10-01)
Publisher: University of Alabama Press
Sales Rank: 1041320
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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5-0 out of 5 stars An engaging and innovative book
In this wonderful book of vibrant and challenging essays, Fraser questions the dominant forms of both poetry and culture without becoming overly polemical. So often, in claiming her own and women's territory, a writer will mow down everyone who even remotely strays from her standards; but Fraser's essays (the title one is a prime example) present and explain a number of varying forms, a number of ways of working through what is to be worked through, without privileging any of them. When she writes about finding her own voice in the sixties, or about starting the experimental journal HOW(ever), she manages to convey her struggle at that time without damning The Oppressor. It's a difficult stance to take -- one which could easily be tarnished by watching the celebrated poets of the world preen in the adulation of the academy -- and it filled me with a kind of buoyant hope for where literature might yet be going. ... Read more

19. Walking With Thomas Merton: Discovering His Poetry, Essays, and Journals
by Robert G. Waldron
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Asin: 0809140586
Catlog: Book (2002-03-01)
Publisher: Paulist Press
Sales Rank: 373404
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Discovering the Unknown Merton

Merton as poet is one of the least known and most under-appreciated aspects of his life. In preparation for giving a retreat, the award-winning author re-examined Merton's spiritual classics, journals, essays, letters, and especially his poetry--and found himself on a journey parallel to Merton's toward a deeper contemplative life.

Walking with Thomas Merton--

· shows the deep relationship between poetry and prayer.

· is inviting spiritual reading.

· will inspire journal keepers, poets, retreatants and devotees of Merton. ... Read more

Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Well I Found The Book to be Excellent
This book is made up with entries Waldron made in his diary while he was preparing for a Merton retreat at St. Stephen Priory in Massachusetts years back. Robert Waldron considers Thomas Merton to be , more or less, his spiritual mentor. He has always been stunned with Merton's impeccable honesty and openness he was known for writing with. At one point, Waldron refers to the contemplative's entire oeuvre as " a word icon," guiding an innumerable amount of people to a deeper rapport with God.

A key premise in Merton's writings is paying attention. He depicts it as "arduous as weight-lifting, but the more we do it, the easier it gets. It is a matter of will and exercise." Merton on no account felt isolated when he was encircled by all of his books. He was able to find spiritual nourishment in masters like Chuang Tzu or even William Faulkner's "The Bear." Waldron's final appraisal of Merton is, as you might expect, his boundless interest with contemplation. Merton once said, "Contemplation is essentially a listening in silence."

All in all, Waldron's keenness for Merton's worth as a spiritual guide is lucidly communicated to us here. He covers his poetry, life, and essays thoroughly and with an appreciation you can simply witness as you read the book. Waldron truly does and did admire Thomas Merton greatly. And after all, didn't we all?

4-0 out of 5 stars Preaching Merton's words
In "Walking with Thomas Merton," the teacher, lecturer and author Robert Waldron allows us to follow him through a summer as he prepares a presentation on the works of the Trappist poet for a September retreat. It is a journal-like chronicle of Waldron's contact with one of the more energetic minds of the age, a glimpse into the impressions of a humbly astute reader as he encounters Merton's thought in poetry and prose.

The book assumes a familiarity with the works of Merton, but readers who have encountered only two or three Merton books need not fear: Waldron's style is accessible and congenial, sometimes surprisingly, pleasantly conversational. He speaks as one reader to another, one spiritual explorer to another, confident that we will catch his enthusiasm not only for Merton, but for poetry in general.

As we see Robert Waldron sift through the compendious opus of the celebrated monk, making choices about which poems to present in his lecture, which portions of the prose to incorporate, we see him remembering when he first encountered Merton, we get brief commentary on how the work affected him (we echo his praise for the poetic prose in "A Vow of Conversation" and share his befuddlement at the attempted innovation of "Geography of Lograire"); we receive a sense of Merton's influences, and are pointed in the direction of his kindred spirits. He is compared, briefly and sagely, to another Catholic author and diarist, the late Henri Nouwen -- the differences being highlighted, as well as the similarities.

The life of Merton is generously assessed: the monk is lauded, justly, for his refusal to abandon his Cistercian life at a time of much turbulence for Church, nation, and the monk himself. His explorations into Buddhism are seen as evidence of a magnanimously ecumenical spirit; his affection for a Louisville nurse, as a humanizing moment that broadened and made tender the heart and soul of the monk. (We are offered a small but moving excerpt of one of the "Eighteen Poems," written during the days when monk and nurse were often in each other's company. It might be worth noting that "Learning to Love," volume 6 of Merton's journals, contains three or four excellent poems from this time.) Merton's sometimes uncritical enthusiasm for the politics of the left is not dealt with extensively, as Waldron's concern here is with the contemplative, creative, and poetic aspects of Thomas Merton's life-work.

"Walking with Thomas Merton" is the culmination of a lifelong enthusiasm for Robert Waldron, and he manages to convey, charmingly and disarmingly, why Merton's poems and prose fascinate him, and just might fascinate us. Merton's poems (and all fine poetry, as Waldron can attest, being an English teacher) cause us to pause from the hustle and hullaballoo, and gently urge us to pay attention to the minute particulars we often overlook, to go with the poet to a quiet space and re-create ourselves. Waldron baptizes (literally, immerses or plunges) himself in the poetry of Thomas Merton, that he might better speak forth the word (praedicare verbum) to his September retreatants. That we are allowed a glimpse of the retreat via the book's final pages, and to be alongside Waldron as he prepares for it, is a significant blessing. Waldron has given us a triune ode: to Thomas Merton, to the art of writing, and to those grace-filled moments of regenerative serenity that, please God, happen in the lives of us all. ... Read more

20. Poetry and the Public: The Social Form of Modern U.S. Poetics
by Joseph Harrington
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Asin: 0819565385
Catlog: Book (2002-04-01)
Publisher: Wesleyan University Press
Sales Rank: 707322
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Book Description

An informative account of the social meaning of poetry in the 20th century US. ... Read more

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