New Collected Poems

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Overview

George Oppen's New Collected Poems brings together all of the great Objectivist poet's published work, together with a selection of his previously unpublished poems. George Oppen's New Collected Poems gathers in one volume all of the poems published in books during his lifetime (1908-84), as well as previously uncollected poems and also a selection of his unpublished work. Oppen, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1969, has long been acknowledged as one of America's foremost modernists. A member of the Objectivist group...
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Overview

George Oppen's New Collected Poems brings together all of the great Objectivist poet's published work, together with a selection of his previously unpublished poems. George Oppen's New Collected Poems gathers in one volume all of the poems published in books during his lifetime (1908-84), as well as previously uncollected poems and also a selection of his unpublished work. Oppen, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1969, has long been acknowledged as one of America's foremost modernists. A member of the Objectivist group that flourished in the 1930s (which also included William Carlos Williams, Charles Reznikoff, Carl Rakosi, and Louis Zukofsky), he was hailed by Ezra Pound as "a serious craftsman, a sensibility which is not every man's sensibility and which has not been got out of any other man's book." Oppen's New Collected Poems (which replaces New Direction's earlier, smaller Collected Poems of 1975) is edited by Michael Davidson of the University of California at San Diego, who also writes an introduction to the poet's life and work and supplies generous notes that will give interested readers an understanding of the background of the individual books as well as references in the poems.

Author Biography: George Oppen was born in Rochester, New York. His first book of poems, Discrete Series, was published in 1934 by The Objectivist Press, after which he stopped writing poetry for nearly twenty-five years in favor of political activism, even living as an exile in Mexico in the 1950s, during the McCarthy era. New Directions subsequently published The Materials (1962), This in Which (1965), Of Being Numerous (1968), and Collected Poems (1975), which also included Seascape: Needle's Eye (1972) and Myth of the Blaze (1975). His last book, Primitive, was brought out by Black Sparrow Press in 1978. All are included here.

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Editorial Reviews

David Ignatow
Oppen is in the line of our best contemporary poets. —The New Leader
Rochelle Ratner
[His] voice is both major and masterful. —Soho Weekly News
Andrew Irvin
Reads like a history of the 20th Century as told in verse that sparkles like broken glass and cuts just as deep.
New Yorker
To a degree unmatched by any book of American poetry...movingly portrays the individual in a collective world.
18 March 18 2002
John Palattella
This volume is an astonishing record of the development... of a poet of great humanity and intelligence.
Publishers Weekly
A Modernist who was part of the Objectivist group that included Charles Reznikoff, Louis Zukofsky and Carl Rakosi, George Oppen (1908-1984) won a Pulitzer Prize in 1969 for his masterpiece, Of Being Numerous. New Collected Poems gathers that work, along with some missing from the 1975 Collected. Edited by poet Michael Davidson, it includes Primitive (the last volume Oppen published, in 1978) as well as previously unpublished work. Admirers of Oppen's foundational volumes should be very pleased with this update. ( Feb.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Harvard Review
A first rate edition of Oppen's poetry. His poetry serves as a model of modernist ethics as well as aesthetics.”— William Doreski
The Yale Review
Oppen’s respect for the act of making, no matter how small, is at every moment palpable, and it infuses his work with sweetness that makes difficulty feel like life’s reward.”— James Longenbach
Home Planet News
Valuable. Davidson's selection...is excellent: his choice of material is judicious and representative, and thankfully accompanied by enlightening explanatory notes.”— Eric Hoffman
The Harvard Book Review
He again and again earns the reader's admiration, again and again directs us towards unexpected linguistic and sensory insights.”— Marta Figlerowicz
William Doreski - Harvard Review
“A first rate edition of Oppen's poetry. His poetry serves as a model of modernist ethics as well as aesthetics.”
James Longenbach - The Yale Review
“Oppen’s respect for the act of making, no matter how small, is at every moment palpable, and it infuses his work with sweetness that makes difficulty feel like life’s reward.”
Eric Hoffman - Home Planet News
“Valuable. Davidson's selection...is excellent: his choice of material is judicious and representative, and thankfully accompanied by enlightening explanatory notes.”
Marta Figlerowicz - The Harvard Book Review
“He again and again earns the reader's admiration, again and again directs us towards unexpected linguistic and sensory insights.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780811214889
  • Publisher: New Directions Publishing Corporation
  • Publication date: 11/28/2001
  • Pages: 433
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

George Oppen (1908-1984) was born in New Rochelle, New York. He was best known as one of the members of the Objectivist group of poets. He abandoned poetry in the 1930s for political activism, and later moved to Mexico to avoid the attentions of the House Un-American Activities Committee. He returned to poetry—and to the United States—in 1958, and received a Pulitzer Prize for his work in 1969.

Eliot Weinberger (b. NYC, 1949), is an essayist and translator. He won PEN’s first Gregory Kolovakos Award for promoting Hispanic literature in the US, and he is America’s first literary writer to receive Mexico’s Order of the Aztec Eagle. He lives in New York City.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


The knowledge not of sorrow, you were
    saying, but of boredom
Is—aside from reading speaking
    smoking—
Of what, Maude Blessingbourne it was,
    wished to know when, having risen,
"approached the window as if to see
    what really was going on";
And saw rain falling, in the distance
    more slowly,
The road clear from her past the window-glass—
Of the world, weather-swept, with which
    one shares the century.



1


White. From the
Under arm of T
The red globe.
Up
Down. Round
Shiny fixed
Alternatives
From the quiet
Stone floor ...



2


    Thus
Hides the
Parts—the prudery
Of Frigidaire, of
Soda-jerking—
Thus
Above the
Plane of lunch, of wives
Removes itself
(As soda-jerking from
the private act
Of
Cracking eggs);
big-Business



The evening, water in a glass
Thru which our car runs on a higher road.
Over what has the air frozen?
Nothing can equal in polish and obscured
    origin that dark instrument
A car
       (Which.
Ease; the hand on the sword-hilt



Her ankles are watches
(Her arm-pits are causeways for water)
When she steps
She walks on a sphere
Walks on the carpet, dressing.
Brushing her hair
Her movement accustomed, abstracted,
Declares this morning a woman's
"My hair, scalp.—"



1


The three wide
Funnels raked aft, and the masts slanted
               the
Deck-hand slung in a bosun's chair
Works on this 20th century chic and
               efficiency
Not evident at "The Sailor's Rest."

(Continues...)


Excerpted from New Collected Poems by George Oppen. Copyright © 2002 by Linda Oppen. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.


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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 14, 2008

    Note on George Oppen

    Throughout the New Collected Poems, Oppen displays a primal element of intensity in the making of a poem, in the connection of emotionally fused language with the material of images and words, and the care given to their syntactical arrangement which, when it is evoked, suggests what D.H. Lawrence understood as an "ungraspable sheer present...life surging into utterance." The wording, imagery and structuring of his poems enforces a de-conventionalizing of perceptions. His motive throughout his work, the way he recombines subjects and objects to permeate a deeper, unpredictable and previously unapparent clarity, becomes vivid. <BR/><BR/>Read the complete essay on George Oppen, "Facets of a Limited and Limiting Clarity" at dorenrobbins.com.

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