In Praise of the Impure: Poetry and the Ethical Imagination: Essays, 1980-1991

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Alan Shapiro is not only a much-lauded poet but also one of America's most intelligent and clearheaded thinkers about poetry. In Praise of the Impure collects his passionate, rigorously argued essays on the situation of poetry in American culture today.

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Editorial Reviews

A collection of essays on the situation of poetry in contemporary American culture, from Shapiro's multiple perspectives as poet (four volumes), teacher of poetry (U. of North Carolina, Greensboro), and reader. A TriQuarterly book. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
From the Publisher
"Shapiro has produced work of such authority and originality that he has permanently enlarged my hopes and expectations for contemporary poetry."
—Tom Sleigh, Boston Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780810150256
  • Publisher: Northwestern University Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/1993
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 185
  • Product dimensions: 6.25 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Alan Shapiro is the author of four books of poetry, including Happy Hour, which won the William Carlos Williams Award of the Poetry Society of America, and Covenant. He teaches at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, and is the recipient of a Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Writer's Award.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
The Flexible Rule: The Ethical Imagination 9
In Praise of the Impure: Narrative Consciousness in Poetry 30
The New Formalism 61
Some Notes on Free Verse and Meter 77
"Far Lamps At Night": The Poetry of J. V. Cunningham 93
Some Thoughts on Robert Hass 114
"Itinerary" by James McMichael 121
The Liberal Imagination of Robert Pinsky's Explanation of America 127
"a living to fail": The Case of John Berryman 136
The Dead Alive and Busy 153
Horace and the Reformation of Creative Writing 164
The Early Seventies and J. V. Cunningham 182
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