Madness, Rack, and Honey: Collected Lectures

Overview


Literary Nonfiction. Poetry History & Criticism. Over the course of 15 years, award-winning poet Mary Ruefle delivered a lecture every six months to a group of poetry graduate students. Collected here for the first time, these lectures articulate the wisdom accrued through a life dedicated entirely to poetry. Intellectually virtuosic, instructive and experiential, MADNESS, RACK, AND HONEY resists definition, demanding instead an utter—and utterly pleasurable—immersion.

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Overview


Literary Nonfiction. Poetry History & Criticism. Over the course of 15 years, award-winning poet Mary Ruefle delivered a lecture every six months to a group of poetry graduate students. Collected here for the first time, these lectures articulate the wisdom accrued through a life dedicated entirely to poetry. Intellectually virtuosic, instructive and experiential, MADNESS, RACK, AND HONEY resists definition, demanding instead an utter—and utterly pleasurable—immersion.

For every time I read a poem I am willing to die...

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - David Kirby
This is one of the wisest books I've read in years, and it would be a shame to think that only poets will read it. Yes, poetry is the nominal topic…But Ruefle's mission is not to—yawn—remind everybody how precious poetry is; rather, it's to give pleasure by showing how the mind works when it's working most pleasurably. In this she succeeds.
The Washington Post - Michael Lindgren
…dazzling and idiosyncratic…the freshest and most startling piece of criticism I have read in a long time.
Publishers Weekly
Profound, unpredictable, charming, and outright funny, this collection of unconventional prose about poetry might secure an audience far larger than the one that already exists for Ruefle’s own poems. Known for her post-Surrealist lyric and for erasures, Ruefle (The Most of It) began to write prose under protest when her teaching program required lectures. Those protests survive in the lectures’ inventive forms: they stop short, ramble, tell jokes, bring in sad moments from the author’s own history of reading and rereading, and end up with seriously useful advice for writers, strange and memorable claims about poems and poetry. One lecture asks why poetry seems less like the sun than the moon; another chapter insists that “Poets are dead people talking about being alive.” A lecture on Emily Dickinson brings new light to that poet by juxtaposing her with Emily Brontë, and both women with Anne Frank. These informal talks have far more staying power and verve than most of their kind. Readers may come away dazzled, as well as amused, feeling (as Ruefle says about her bookish childhood) that “this was the secret labyrinth of reading, and there was a secret tunnel connecting it to my life.” (Aug.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781933517575
  • Publisher: Wave Books
  • Publication date: 8/14/2012
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 230,420
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author


Mary Ruefle is the author of the essay collection MADNESS, RACK, AND HONEY: COLLECTED LECTURES (Wave Books, 2012), ten books of poetry, a book of prose (THE MOST OF IT, Wave Books, 2008), and a comic book (Go Home and Go to Bed, Pilot Books/Orange Table Comics, 2007); she is also an erasure artist, whose treatments of nineteenth century texts have been exhibited in museums and galleries, and published in A LITTLE WHITE SHADOW (Wave Books, 2006). Mary is the recipient of numerous honors, including an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, a Whiting Award, and the 2011 Wiliam Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America. She lives in Bennington, Vermont, and teaches in the MFA program at Vermont College.
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Table of Contents

Introduction VII

On Beginnings 1

Poetry and the Moon 10

On Sentimentality 31

On Theme 53

On Secrets: Eight Beginnings, Two Ends 73

On Fear 103

Madness, Rack, and Honey 126

My Family Dickinson 143

Someone Reading a Book is a Sign of Order in the World 183

Remarks on Letters 200

Kangaroo Beach 216

I Remember, I Remember 226

Twenty-Two Short Lectures 247

Lectures I Will Never Give 279

Acknowledgments 313

Selected Bibliography 315

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