Expansive Poetry & Music Online,
Updated March 1, 2000
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Flight and Pursuit (University of Louisiana Press, 1987)
Allen, well-versed in the New Physics, is also a superb narrative
poet who writes with skill in meters. There are other books by Allen, and
his work appears in all the journals, but this is a good place to start.
A founder of the Expansive movement, Allen is one of its best teachers
as well. Ode
to the Cold War (Sarabande, 1997)
Allen's general exclusion from the New Formalists side of the Expansive
movement gives the lie to the "big house" inclusiveness of that narrow
movement. While including more than a few poets whose work can only
be described as free verse masquerading as meter, Allen is an expansive,
witty, and intellectually rich poet, writing in a loose iambic as familiar
to American verse as Robert Frost, and who shows no apparent concern
for getting the good approval of a fraternity or a focus group.
(Amazon) See review in April issue. A wonderful book by a fine poet.
Bennett, Bruce, It's Hard to Get the Angle Right, Green
Tower Press, 1997. A collection of villanelles of a type rarely
seen in English. These poems lack the affected quality of so many
English variations on French forms -- written in contemporary language,
comic and ironic. Robert Darling reviewed this in EP&M Online.
Bower, Edgar, Collected Poems, Alfred A. Knopf, Publisher, 1997.
Reviewed in March issue of EP&M Online, the collected poems of a poet of quiet elegance who passed away in February of 2000 after a career of more than fifty years. "...the sort of victory that requires a lifetime of writing patiently and well." Richard Wilbur.
Bugeja, Michael: The
Visionary (Orchises Press, 1996)
Bugeja, in utilizing form, never lets the formal elements take
him away from the narrative. These very strong poems, many of them about
the loss of a firstborn, and the subsequent joy of adopting a daughter,
are well worth more than one look.
Carper, Thomas: Fiddle
Lane (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991)
Splendid sonnets in very modern settings, from childhood to late
adulthood, can tell a story in 14 lines.
Another beautiful book from Carper is From
Nature (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995)
Even better than Fiddle Lane, Carper's newer book has several
wonderful sequences of sonnets, including "Basho's Way".
Cherry, Kelly: God's
Loud Hand (Louisiana State University Press, 1993)
A wonderful poet -- search out other titles by her, including
Death and Transfiguration, Louisiana State, and A New Pleiade,
Louisiana State University, an anthology reviewed in the January 1999 issue
of EP&M Online.
Clampitt, Amy: The
Kingfisher (Knopf Poetry Series,1985)
Any other book of hers is worth having as well, such as What
the Light was Like (Knopf, 1993), her last, and her new Collected.
Cullen, Countee: My
Soul's High Song, edited by Gerald Early
(Anchor Books, 1991 -- re-issue) This re-issue of a long-neglected
"voice of the Harlem Renaissance" gives new voice to the late poet who
used classical form to re-define the meaning of black, brown, beige and
tan. If you ever wondered why his father, who worked for the revolutionary
DuBois, approved of his son as a poet, read this wonderful book.
Dacey, P., Jauss, David (Editors): Strong
Measures (Harper Collins, 1986)
This solid collection, ranging from Anderson to Wilbur, presents
the evidence for the editors' thesis that formal prosody helps, not hinders,
expression in poetry. As with Story Line's Rebel Angels, there
are many free verse poems, including several famous ones by Elizabeth Bishop,
that are in free verse. There's nothing wrong with that, but it's
a bit like including a Bo Diddly song with a Charlie Parker compilation.
Darling, Robert: (Boundaries, Somers Rocks Press) This student
and scholar of A.D. Hope writes with the skill of his master. Look for
the name in journals. Also, Darling has a biography out of A.D. Hope, from
Disch, Thomas: Yes,
Let's: New and Selected Poems
A sharp, witty poet with superb attention to craft. See Disch
below, under criticism. Disch, whose work as a science fiction writer
is far better known (even mentioned by name in Philip Dick's trilogy),
is a cutting and witty poet with beautifully polished prosody.
Dorn, Alfred Voices
from Rooms; From Cells to Mindspace
If you spend time with good journals, such as Sparrow, Orbis, The
Lyric, Poetry Digest, and many, many others, you know Alfred Dorn.
He has two short collections from Somers Rocks Press. Why these are
his only two collections is one of the mysteries of American poetry.
Dove, Rita: Selected
Poems (Pantheon, 1993)
Poet Laureate in 1993 and 1994.
Duhamel, Denise: Kinky (Orchises, 1997) A highly original and
unusual satirical poet. These poems, with their many personifications of
Barbie & Ken, will crawl into the shadows in your skull. Reviewed in
Faever, Vicki: ( , ) If you find a book by her let the Webmaster know.
Mordantly strange British poet....
Feirstein, Fred: Ending
the 20th Century (QRM, 1995)
(Quarterly Review of Literature, Volume XXXIV, 1995) Superb poems
of city life. Knows the difference between a story in verse and one in
Life (Story Line Press, 1991)
Includes "The Psychiatrist at the Cocktail Party," an inspired
comedy in verse. Officially, it's a sequence, but it's been done as a play
several times to great effect.
New and Selected, Story Line Press, 1998. From its
beautiful Stephen Assael cover to its wide selection of Feirstein's poetry,
a worthwhile book, though they "Psychiatrist at the Cocktail Party" was
excerptedis strange, as Story Line has let City Life, which has
the whole thing, go out of print.
Fenton, James: Out
of Danger (The Noonday Press (Farrar Straus & Giroux), 1994)
A well-known journalist, one of the best poetry readers around,
and the author of evocative, powerful and unforgettable stories in verse.
Finch, Annie (Editor): A
Formal Feeling Comes (Story Line, 1994)
The best anthology yet of young and older women working in form
and meter, includes an essay by each poet on why she uses form and meter.
Eve, Story Line Press, 1997. Annie Finch's Eve, her first
collection, was reviewed last spring in EP&M and, like Countee
Cullen and Aemelia Lanyer, offers reinterpretations of classic myths from
across the world to provide a basis for a different way of looking at women.
Fischer, Henry George, Night and Light and the Half-Light. (Pocahontas
Light verse is not trite verse. Only hacks think differently.
See Joseph S. Salemi's review
of this book in the October '99 issue. If you can't get this
book, contact EP&M Online
Geier, Joan Austin: Mother of Tribes (Four Circles Press, 1987)
This is worth looking for. Leave a message with this page if you can't
Gioia, Dana: The
Gods of Winter (Gray Wolf, 1991 )
Has Gioia's strongest poems. See Criticism below.
Grosholz, Emily: Eden
(Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992)
Emily is widely respected as a narrative and as a lyric poet.
Gwynn, R.S.: The Drive-In (University of Missouri Press, 1986)
A used bookstore special Contact this page for a selected edition of Gwynn's
poetry which includes "Among Phillistines" (from The Drive-In) No Word
of Farewell (Pikeman Press, 1996) Texas Poets in Concert,
and If My Song (Lisle Imprints, 1999). Gwynn was editor
for New Expansive Poetry from Story Line Press. Gwynn is also
noted for his organization of highly unusual poetry contests.
Hacker, Marilyn: Love,
Death and the Changing of the Seasons (WW Norton, 1995)
(William Morrow, 1986) A gifted and passionate poet of love and
many other subjects.
Harrison, Tony, The Shadow of Hiroshima,
Faber and Faber, 1995 (available through Grolier's). Why Harrison
wasn't considered as successor to the late Ted Hughes is dreary proof of
something -- but probably nothing new. Strong dramatic sequence
by one of England's superb contemporary poets and playwrights. Reviewed
Hecht, Anthony. Hecht is one of the best of his generation.
Just about anything of his will satisfy your need for good poetry.
A collection of his earlier poems is well worth hunting down.
Hecht, Roger, Parade of Ghosts; Burnt Offerings; Selected.
Roger Hecht, Anthony's late brother, was an immensely talented narrative
poet, one of the few who published such work in the 1960's and early 1970's.
>From his inspiration came a large crop of storytellers in poetry, including
Frederick Feirstein, Wade Newman, Robert McDowell, the Webmaster and others.
For his books, contact Wade
Newman who is Hecht's literary executor.
Heffernan, Michael, The Man at Home, University
of Arkansas, 1988. Another of those left out of the New Formalists
group, Heffernan is one of the very few able to write terza rima
in contemporary English, not the faux terza rima of Ciardi, but aba bcb
cdc, etc. -- hard work but rewarding.
Hoffman, Daniel: The Middens of the Tribe (Louisiana State University
Press, 1995) Daniel Hoffman's Citizen Kane, a wonderful book-length
sequence performed recently by a fine cast at Lincoln Square Bookstore
in Lincoln Center. Don't miss Hoffman's annual staging of a
multi-poet, multi-translation reading of the Divine Comedy near Easter
time at St. John the Divine in New York.
Hope, A.D.: Selected
1948-1976 (Carcanet, 1986)
Australia's and one of the English-speaking world's great poets. Never
heard of him? You should feel impoverished for not knowing Hope. If they
don't have it at Amazon, try Grolier's. And what is wrong with Harper Collins,
for not releasing a collected from this great Australian voice?
Orpheus, Angus & Robertson, 1991, This slim volume
is the last collection published by Hope and contains some very good poems,
including the comic and archetypal "Teaser Rams" and the haunting "Western
Collected, Angus & Robertson, 1977. Yes, it's old.
Hudgins, Andrew: After the Lost War (Houghton Mifflin, 1988)
Whether or not this is still available new is open to question. However,
this book length narrative is worth hunting for (perhaps Grolier's, The
Strand). It purports to be a first-person narrative telling the story of
Sidney Lanier after the Civil War and recreates a lost world without sentimentality.
Hudgins has at least two new collections from Story Line as well.
Jarman, Mark: Iris
(Story Line Press, 1995)
A book-length narrative about a woman using her love of a great
poet to help build a life in difficult and tragic circumstances.
Jarman, Mark and Mason, David, editors: Rebel Angels (Story
Line Press, 1996) This is the second of Story Line's anthologies (the first
is also on this list). It has a wide range of work from the many poets
who have returned to the use of meter and form, and from a few of those
who write stories in verse. Such narrative poets as Frederick Feirstein
and Frederick Turner are excerpted briefly, but why Dick Allen, a founder
of the Expansive Poetry movement, is excluded from this anthology is anyone's
best guess. Still, it's good (reviewed in December of 1996 EP&M Online),
though its somewhat preposterous introduction is (and has been) open to
satire, sarcasm and rebuke, including a stinging assault in Kaufman Hall
during an introduction of Richard Wilbur in 1997.
Justice, Donald: New and Selected Poems (Alfred Knopf, 1995)
Donald Justice has gone back to using form and meter. He's still good at
Keithley, George: The Donner Party (George Braziller, Inc.,
1972) This has been around a long time but it persists, and for good reason.
Donner recreates events of archetypal power in American history. Look for
excerpts of Keithley's new book on Galileo in Pivot, no. 46
Keller, Johanna: (,) Look for Johanna in journals, a fine poet.
Her Skull narrative poem is a disturbing and powerful work, now
released in a limited edition.
Kennedy, X.J. Dark
Horse (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992)
If you haven't heard XJ Kennedy sing "Dancing with the Poets at
Piggy's," you could at least read it, as well as the fifty or so other
fine lyrics in this book. If you can't find this one, buy another one by
him. Star of the West Chester conference, still waiting for his shot at
Lake, Paul Walking Backwards, Story Line Press,
1999. So what if EP&M Online's review was mixed?
Asskissing sycophancy doesn't sell books, except to captive audiences.
It's an interesting book by a strong, vital poet.
Levin, Phillis: Temples
and Fields (University of Georgia Press, 1988)
Phillis is an influential poet, and this book shows why her students
think so highly of her. Finding the sacred in the quotidien, with a fine
lyrical sense and ear, Levin is one of the best younger poets. The
After Image (Copper Beech Press, 1995)
Levin's new book has much fine material. She is of course older
now. Levin is also editor of Boulevard, a terrific journal now at the University
of St. Louis.
Lewis, Gwyneth: Faxes and Parables (Bloodaxe Books, 1995 --
printed in England, but available through Grolier's) A Welsh poet, first
book in English, and splendid.
Lind, Michael, The Alamo, An Epic, Houghton-Mifflin,
1997. Now a principal editor at The Atlantic, Lind is
a successful novelist and commentator. In this book-length poem,
Lind revives the use of an old stanza, ottava rima, to tell a modern
variation on the Alamo story. Reviewed in EP&M Online,
this is hard to find now, as commercial presses remainder after six months.
Check the Strand, Grolier's, or Amazon.
Martin, Charles: Steal
the Bacon (The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993)
This too-unknown poet is one of America's best. Sharp, well-crafted,
witty. Look for his translations of Catullus as well (also JHU Press).
His new book is reviews in the January issue. What the Darkness Proposes,
JHU, 1996 One to get in either hardback or soft. See review in EP&M
archives. Keller and Martin are also working on Christine de Pisan
translations and Martin is reportedly close to the completion of his translation
Mason, David: Country
I Remember, The (Story Line, 1996)
The Country I Remember is a superbly written set of stories,
one about John Mitchell, an ancestor of Mason's who fought in the Civil
War, and about Mitchell's daughter Maggie Gresham. Both are written in
a very good blank verse. Reviewed February 1997.
McDowell, Robert: Diviners,
The, (Story Line, 1995)
A book length narrative poem by a leading author of the New Narrative.
If you can find it, his Quiet Money (1987) is also worth the search.
Millay, Edna St. Vincent: Collected Sonnets (Perennial Library,
Harper & Row, 1988) This re-issue of one of America's great lyric poets
(d. 1954), though on cheap paper, is worth every penny and more.
Poetry (Harper & Row, 1995)
Better-produced than the Collected Sonnets, though still perfect
bound, is an exact copy of the original collected and has all of the sonnets.
Monsour, Leslie: Gringuita Poems (Missing Measures Press, 1990)
Works in form and meter with delicate poignancy.
Moore, Miles David, The Bears of Paris, Work Works,
1997. One of the best performers on the poetry circuit, Moore
also has a piercing sense of humor to offset his more serious side, both
of which are revealed in this collection -- reviewed in EP&M.
Available from Amazon.
Morgan, Edwin, Collected Poems, Carcanet, 1998.
Morgan, reviewed in EP&M Online, has for many decades been one
of Scotland's poetic treasures, with a range from science fiction in iambic
pentameter to witty and wacky experiments with free verse.
Moore, Richard: The
Mouse Whole (Negative Capability Press, 1995)
This is the third re-issue of this now expanded mock epic, begun
under the guidance of Robert Lowell. It is hilarious, and should be on
your bookshelf. Moore has recorded the entire thing and, if you contact
this page, purchase of a copy (with negotiations with Moore) is possible.
(Persea Books, 1977)
These four dramatic monologues, in the personae of Jay Gould,
Archimedes, Cleopatra and Aaron Burr, are among the best poems ever written
by an American. Out of print, but can be gotten through Amazon.
Moore's latest include Pygmies and Pyramids, reviewed in January
1999 issue of EP&M, and translations for David Slavitt's Greek
and Roman Drama series. He has several articles in the Archives
of EP&M Online and is often seen in Edge
Newman, Wade (Testaments, Somers Rocks Press, 1996) How many
prizes, how many publications do you have to have before someone will put
out a book? Like Alfred Dorn, Newman has an armful of service stripes but
no publisher. Boo -- hiss to publishers. Look for Wade's fine poems in
the best journals. Also, look for Testaments from Somers Rocks Press,
a fine chapbook released in October 96. You can order it through this page
(See Wade Newman and the late Roger Hecht) as well as an audio tape that
includes both Testaments and new and selected poems -- read by Newman.
Noguere, Suzanne: Whirling
Round the Sun, 1996
This is her first book (hard to believe, given her publication
credits) and it's out. It was reviewed here in November of 1996. A very
gifted lyric poet with a fine ear for meter and rhyme, she won a Nation/Discovery
Award in 1996.
Patterson, Ray -- this is a red herring. Time and
again, I've been told how marvelous Patterson is, but his published work
has been buried and he seems to have disappeared from journals. Assistance
would be helpful.
Peacock, Molly: Take
Heart (Random House, 1989)
M. Peacock takes pleasure and has great skill in varying traditional
forms to communicate very modern lives.
Pollack, Frederick: Happiness, Story Line
Whether perceived as satire or as a fusion of Gnosticism and science
fiction, this is a superb narrative. He has several other superb sequences
(hint to publisher).
Prunty, Wyatt, Since the Noon Mail Stopped, Johns
Hopkins, 1997. A fine collection by a master of fusing modern story
and classical form. Reviewed in EP&M but the Webmaster
is currently trying to restore that file. Best solution: browse
to Amazon or Grolier's and buy a copy
Robinson, Edward Arlington: The
Essential Robinson (Ecco, 1994)
(Amazon) Edited by Donald Hall
This re-issue of Robinson (d. 1935) contains some of the finest
short narratives written by an American or by anyone else in Robinson's
Schaffner, M.A., The Good Opinion of Squirrels (Word Works,
1996) Reviewed in October of 1996, and available at Amazon Books.
Schnackenberg, Gjertrude, A Gilded Lapse of Time,
reviewed in EP&M Online, a brilliant book though it requires
more than a glance to fully comprehend Schnackenberg's ideas and perceptions.
Slavitt, David. Crossroads, Louisiana State Press.
Strong, vivid tour of a nightmare. PS36539.L3, Louisiana State,
1998, vivid, witty, serious, a wide range. Both books reviewed in
EP&M. A New Pleiade, Louisiana State, 1998,
with Cherry, Galvin, Garrett, Taylor, Chapell, and Dillard.
Contains some from books listed above, but still worth having for both
Slavitt and the other poets. Epinician Odes and Dithyrambs of
Bacchylides, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1998, offers Slavitt
as a translator, whose efforts to transmit 2500-year-old work into contemporary
language are most successful in this new volume. Metamorphoses
-- Slavitt's works, despite complaints that he takes too many
liberties. Given an environment where liberty is called oppression by "critics,"
I hope this book sells out twenty-nine editions.
Stallings, A.E., Archaic Smile,, University of Evansville Press (2000)
A.E. Stallings, who will be reviewed on EP&M Online in April of 2000, is a gifted and young poet who last year won the Richard Wilbur Award in poetry.
Steele, Timothy: Sapphics
and Uncertainties (University of Arkansas Press, 1995)
A fine critic and poet, Steele writes with subtle skill in meter
and rhyme. See Criticism below. His new book on rhyme and meter is
reviewed in October's
Stokesbury, Leon, Autumn Rhythm: New and Selected Poems, University
of Arkansas, 1997. Stokesbury has been doing this for a very long
time. He's superb. Reviewed in EP&M by Sam Gwynn.
Turner, Frederick: Genesis
(Saybrook Publishing (distributed by Norton), 1988) (Amazon)
A novel in blank verse, longer than "Paradise Lost," easier to
understand and a lot more fun. Science fiction. Look also for The
New World (Princeton, 1985)
His first book length poem, contemporary setting; some consider
this his best. The
Hadean Eclogues, a fine book, Story Line Press, 1999.
Give one for the holidays.
Weiss, Theodore, Collected Poems. (Princeton University Press).
As editor with Renee Weiss of QRL for fifty-five years, Weiss single-handedly
carried the narrative ball for decades while everyone else was bombarding
a waiting world with the salt-shot of confessional lyrics, concrete (block?)
"verse" and other fads. His own poetry, often ignored because he
was an editor, is exemplary, rich, and passionate.
Van Duyn, Mona: Firefall
She has a new Collected as well.
Wilbur, Richard: Collected
Poems (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich,1987
Pulitzer Prize-winning, former poet laureate, winner of Frost
Medal. Wilbur is good. Don't miss "Walking to Sleep" and "The Mind Reader."
Theater companies, don't miss his translations of Moliere, not only superb
renditions but great acting scripts (particularly rare as Wilbur succeeds
in reproducing Moliere's heroic couplets effectively).
Williamson, Greg: Silent
Partner (Story Line Press, 1995)
Brilliant young poet, wonderful in rhymed forms and in longer
narratives. Won Nick Roerich Prize with this book in 1995.
Wylie, Elinor, Collected Poems -- I don't know
if there is such a thing other than old copies at the Strand. Wylie,
who died far too young, was a wonderful writer, with an ear as good or
better than her friend Millay's.
Poetry Criticism (very incomplete):
Bawer, Bruce: Prophets
and Professors (Story Line Press, 1995)
"Bawer is one of the few American literary journalists whose work
repays the reading," Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post He's
a good poet too.
Darling, Robert, A.D. Hope, a Twain literary biography,
1997. Since Harper Collins has so far failed to provide an adequate
collection of this poet's work, you won't do badly to find out about
him in Darling's fine biography and critique.
Disch, Thomas: Castle
of Indolence, The(Picador, 1995 )
With wit, an occasionally acerbic tongue, and as rich a sense
of the history of the art as you're likely to get, a collection of critical
essays on good, bad and indifferent contemporary poets, and on the perils
of writing criticism.
Feirstein, Fred (editor) et al: Expansive
Poetry (Story Line, 1990)
This is a fine guide to the now 15-year-old movement sometimes
called the New Formalists or the New Narrative (or Few Normalists as R.S.
Gwynn has said), written by its founders, such as MacDowell, Gioia, Feirtein,
Turner, Jarman and others. A new edition will come out soon, but try to
get the original with Feirstein's introduction. It has now been replaced
by R.S. Gwynn-edited New Expansive Poetry (Story Line, 1999) which
has many of the same as well as new essays.
Fussell, Paul: Poetic
Meter & Poetic Form(McGraw-Hill, 1979, re-issued 1993)
For those who need theory, this book explores how meaning is conveyed
by meter, looks at the function of form -- illustrated with many examples.
Gioia, Dana: Can
Poetry Matter (Gray Wolf, 1992)
An essential book more for its exhumations of Robinson Jeffers and Weldon
Kees than its essays beating the dead horse of academic confessional free
verse. Gioia's continuous excavation of Kees is a well-deserved honor for
one of America's most intriguing and influential poets.
McDowell, Robert (editor): Poetry After Modernism (Story
Line Press, 1991) Essays by Carole Oles & Hilda Raz, Dana Gioa, Mark
Jarman, Dick Allen (see books above), Bruce Bawer, Marilyn Nelson- Waniek,
Rita Dove, Lynn Emanuel on poetry as it approaches the 21st century, its
relationship to politics, feminism, race, psychoanalysis, and so on.
Moore, Richard: The
Rule that Liberates (University of South Dakota Press, 1995)
Moore, a very fine poet, is a sharp and persuasive critic. His
review of the use of meter is worth the price of the book. So are a half-dozen
other essays. His remarks about poetry not being magic, but an art produced
by people who learn its craft, should be hammered onto the office doors
of English departments and critics. Put it next to your copy of Empires,
No More Bottom, The Mouse Whole Hard to get,
has a boatload of typographical errors, but worth hunting for.
Steele, Timothy: Missing
Measures(University of Arkansas, 1990)
Ostensibly a history of how poets from the late 19th century to
the present have abandoned meter, it is one of the best histories of prosody
you can find. His new book on meter and rhyme and other things is now out.
Prosody: (very incomplete)
Attridge, Derek: Poetic
Rhythm, an Introduction (Cambridge University Press, 1996)
A very influential critic and prosodist, much admired by Steele,
Carper, and others. Has a highly original method of scansion. His perceptions
of how to approach sound and rhythm are striking.
Hollander, John, Rhyme's Reason
A good, concise prosody whose author doesn't bother to hide behind
theoretical or political posturings. Prosody is for the taking by
whomever uses it.
Gioia, Dana: The Gioia Prosody
This is a red herring. Gioia has not written a prosody. However, if
he has time, between his daily meetings, trips, readings, the planned pre-production
of his and Alva Henderson's new opera, writing, being a husband and father,
organizing the West Chester conference, etc., he should write a prosody,
as he knows the subject well.
Gwynn, R.S. (Sam):
The Lone Star Poet's Prosody. Gwynn, who knows as
much about the subject as either Gioia or Steele, has not written a prosody,
preferring to teach a school away from neighbor and friend...perhaps someone
will encourage him, and probably will, if they read his essay in the current
Dark Horse In the meantime, look for his poetry and criticism, and
you can satisfy yourself a little with the reprint in our archives section
("Signposts to Poetry....")
Shapiro, Karl, and Beum, David:
A Prosody Handbook (Harper and Row, 1965, 1979) A used bookstore
special, perhaps from the Strand, but is a very good review of meter and
form, particularly considering that few other prosodists (published) thought
in these terms when the book was published. Shapiro and Beum also discuss
figures of speech, tone, color and other aspects of poetry considered quaint
in the neo-Know Nothingism of the present.
Turco, Lewis: The
New Book of Forms, a handbook of poetics (University Press of New England,
Widely available, worth every penny for poets who need or want
to know the essentials of any form or meter that are in general or even
very rare use by poets, from blank verse to pantoums to sonnets to limericks.
Again, prosody for the taking, without posturing or hallucinations about
form implying political stances.
Odds and Ends, Strange Choices
Berlinski, David, A Tour of the Calculus, Vintage,
Once you're done with Hogben (see below), try Berlinski, who seems able
to succeed even with the Webmaster where several armies of math professors
had failed. It's a witty (and to many, irritating) look at a principal
mathematical tool of modern science (the other is statistical analysis),
with side swipes at English department politics, neo-knownothingism,
modes of teaching math, and many other things. Stick with it; like
the Webmaster, you may discover that the calculus is neither astrology
Feynman, Richard: The
Character of Physical Law (Modern Library, 1967, 1995)
What's this doing here? It doesn't hurt to know how science works. Don't
be deterred by the title. These are seven lectures given to non-mathematicians
describing how science is done, with examples from gravitation to quantum
theory. It might surprise you, particularly lecture #7 where Feynman notes
that "the only genuine proof in science is that a theory is wrong."
Poets would do well to look at this; so would anyone interested in the
Gleick, James: Chaos,
the Makings of a New Science (Holt & Winston , 1991)
Want to find out how our view of the world has changed since 1970? You
might be surprised. Highly readable, but with enough details (and bibliography)
of the science to lead the truly interested on. Though the multidisciplinary
application of this work (and its sister complexity theory) has gone far
beyond Gleick's examples (the Santa Fe Institute is built on such and is
arguably the most important meeting ground in American science), this book
is still a good primer.
Dennis Flanagan, Flanagan's Version (Vintage, 1988) Dennis Flanagan,
former Editor at Scientific American (the "public" version), wrote this
after retiring. It's a range of essays conveying Flanagan's understanding
(an editor's comprehension, not a scientist's) for a variety of subjects
in science, including the problem of cranks who seem to be scientists but
are only BS artists. NYU physicist Sokol's wicked send-up of Social
Text is not included but Flanagan probably approved.
Hogben, Lancelot: Mathematics
for the Million (WW Norton, 1993)
What? Without mathematics, there's no science. With no science, we're
still living in the Middle Ages, where you can sign up to travel back to
the era of pneumonic plague, the Inquisition and the domination of all
discussion by religious (or political) authorities. If not, and you might
like to at least find out something about the subject, get this book, a
splendid social history and by-example approach to mathematics from the
measurement of area to the calculus and statistics. Hogben insisted, like
a good narrative poet, that there are reasons why such things are, that
magic is the last thing you'd want from a mathematician. This does go against
the Idealist approach to pure mathematics, but you'll probably survive
these limits long enough to move on to modern derivatives of Cauchy and
Euler -- indeed, Hogben may make that possible. M for the M has
been around so long that Einstein wrote a blurb for the 4th edition (!)
it is rarely out of print.
Latour, Bruno Aramis,
or The Love of Technology (Harvard University Press)
This strange book, which purports to be a history of a project in mass
transit in Paris called Aramis (subway cars that divided lengthwise --
the idea Francois Mitterand's), evolves into a dazzling and arcane commentary
on the bizarre misapplication of centralized power and technology in this
project, which cost more than a billion dollars and resulted in nothing
but drawings and prototypes. (A TLS critic described it as a perfect
monument to the presidency of Francois Mitterand, though my own choice
is the billion dollar replacement for the Paris Opera, a mediocre hall
built by Mitterand's friends -- see Francois Mitterand et les Quarante
Voleurs, a lacerating but late expose by a Le Monde reporter in 1993.)
Turner, Frederick: The
Culture of Hope, (The Free Press, 1995)
Book-length essay on the seemingly inappropriate strategies of Post-Modernism,
and the alternatives that might bring hope, craft and a new tradition to
the arts. Informed with a polymath's understanding of sciences and art,
this book's confrontation with unthinking determinism is needed, particularly
with determinism's sharp resurgence guided by such evolutionary biologists
as Richard Dawkins. Dawkins, whose declarations have provided great force
to a revived Social Darwinism, seems impermeable, but Turner might break
the glass, or at least provide a good hammer. Expect to be roundly
attacked by members of the club when reading this book, however.
Perhaps a brown paper wrapper would help. However, it is worth noting that
Turner is a strong adherent to evolutionary science -- contradiction?
Better read the book; it's more honest, though harder, than simply reading
a brief review when preparing for cocktail party conversation.
Imprints to Look For: (very incomplete)
Angus & Robertson: At least someone has published a Collected
for A.D. Hope, if you can find it.
Black Cat Has a fine list, including one of the best collections of
translated poems by Baudelaire (Richard Wilbur's translations of this poet
are unusually good.)
Collier Books(Harper-Collins): This publisher has put out many
re-issues of note, such as by E.A. Robinson, but has a hangup about a Collected
for A.D. Hope.
Everyman: This revived imprint puts out wonderful hardbacks of
classical work which are well-designed, well-annotated, with hand-sewn
signatures of good paper and covers that look as though the editors cared
about the authors.
Faber & Faber: Eliot's one-time publishing house, still in
business, though one wonders if they might consider hiring a book designer.
One can't complain about the content though. Edwin Morgan, many others,
including the completion of a fine old literary hoax with The Collected
Poems of Ern Malley.
Gray Wolf: Publishes Dana Gioia and others.
Johns Hopkins University Press - John T. Irwin, Poetry Editor Publishes
Carper, Disch, Hollander, Kennedy, Martin, Grosholz, and others.
Orchises: Publishers of Richard Moore, Edmund Pennant, Denise
Duhamel, Christopher Buckley and others.
Oxford University Press: Oxford Poets Series Publishes most of Britain's,
Scotland's and Ireland's hot new poets has now been cancelled for
some inexplicable reason. This series actually made a small amount
of money and supported its staff, if not its poets. Boo to Oxford
UK for doing this. Best of luck to Bloodaxe and a variety of other
presses who will get this list.
Sarabande: A fine press which publishes Dick Allen and many others.
Story Line Press: Has a fine list of criticism,
narrative poetry, even a guide by poet Michael Bugeja to getting poetry
published. At present, the primary press for the Expansive movement's narrative
wing but leaning heavily toward formal lyrics and criticism, some of it
a seemingly vain effort to appease the politicos, in last few years.
University of Arkansas Press Publishes Timothy Steele, Daniel Hoffman
University of Louisiana Press Publishes Dick Allen, Kelly Cherry
University of Michigan Press Publishes Annie Finch
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