Something Understood: Essays and Poetry for Helen Vendler

Overview

Helen Vendler may be America’s most important poetry critic. A winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, Vendler has remained a key figure in the academy while also teaching a much larger public how to read and enjoy poems and poetry through her many articles for the New Yorker, the New York Times Book Review, the New Republic, and the New York Review of Books.

With Something Understood, some of the most important poets, critics, and scholars in the United States, ...

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Overview

Helen Vendler may be America’s most important poetry critic. A winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, Vendler has remained a key figure in the academy while also teaching a much larger public how to read and enjoy poems and poetry through her many articles for the New Yorker, the New York Times Book Review, the New Republic, and the New York Review of Books.

With Something Understood, some of the most important poets, critics, and scholars in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Ireland pay tribute to five decades of Vendler’s work. Included here are new poems, written especially for this volume, from such luminaries as Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney, former U.S. poet laureate Rita Dove, and Pulitzer Prize winner Charles Wright. The essays, also exclusive to this book, address a spectrum of issues, from the vastness of the poetic tradition to poetry’s irreducible building blocks. Elaine Scarry considers what poetic vocation has meant to Heaney, Thomas Hardy, and to Vendler herself. Deborah Forbes asks what the poems of John Keats have to say to the people of Zambia. Jahan Ramazani provides arguments and advice that any teacher of poetry can use.

All the contributors have learned from Helen Vendler or been inspired by her work. The result is not only a celebration of Vendler’s critical powers but also a major compilation of poems and essays representing contemporary American poetry as it is practiced and debated.

ContributorsJohn Ashbery
• Frank Bidart
• Lucie Brock-Broido
• Stephen Burt
• Eleanor Cook
• Bonnie Costello
• Rita Dove
• Heather Dubrow
• William Flesch
• Deborah Forbes
• Mark Ford
• Roger Gilbert
• Albert Goldbarth
• Jorie Graham
• Nick Halpern
• DeSales Harrison
• Seamus Heaney
• August Kleinzahler
• George S. Lensing
• Christopher R. Miller
• Carl Phillips
• D. A. Powell
• Laura Quinney
• Jahan Ramazani
• Elaine Scarry
• Dave Smith
• Willard Spiegelman
• M. Wynn Thomas
• Charles Wright

University of Virginia Press

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813927855
  • Publisher: University of Virginia Press
  • Publication date: 5/11/2009
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephen Burt, Associate Professor of English at Harvard University, is the author of The Forms of Youth: Twentieth-Century Poetry and Adolescence. He writes about contemporary poetry for the New York Times Book Review, the Times Literary Supplement, and the London Review of Books. Nick Halpern, Associate Professor of English at North Carolina State University, is the author of Everyday and Prophetic: The Poetry of Lowell, Ammons, Merrill, and Rich.

University of Virginia Press

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction: Helen Vendler's Aesthetic Criticism Stephen Burt 1

Poems

Feverfew John Ashbery 19

Little O Frank Bidart 20

In Owl Weather Lucie Brock-Broido 22

A Wing Rita Dove 24

John Hall Mark Ford 26

Shawl Albert Goldbarth 27

"The People of the Book" Albert Goldbarth 28

Later in Life Jorie Graham 29

Hermit Songs Seamus Heaney 32

Family Album August Kleinzahler 38

The Life You Save Carl Phillips 40

central valley D. A. Powell 41

June Bug Dave Smith 42

Heraclitean Backwash Charles Wright 43

Criticism

Tropes and Teams: Teaching Poetry through Classroom Debate Jahan Ramazani 47

"A sheapherdess thus sayd": Immediacy and Distance in the Early Modern Lyric Heather Dubrow 60

The Bounds of the Incidental: Shakespeare's View of Accuracy William Flesch 83

Reading Keats in Zambia Deborah Forbes 105

Fine Suddenness: Keats's Sense of a Beginning Christopher R. Miller 123

Foursquare: The Romantic Quatrain and Its Descendants Willard Spiegelman 147

Whitman, Tennyson, and the Poetry of Old Age M. Wynn Thomas 161

Incipience and Seriousness in Yeats's A Vision Nick Halpern 183

Lyric Poetry and the First-Person Plural: "How Unlikely" Bonnie Costello 193

Elizabeth Bishop's Cartographic Imagination Once More: Rereading "The Map" Eleanor Cook 207

Wallace Stevens, Ramon Fernandez, and "The Idea of Order at Key West" George S. Lensing 227

Restlessness and Deformation: Sylvia Plath's Feet Desales Harrison 239

Vendler's Ammons: The Snow Poems and After Roger Gilbert 265

Ashbery the Neoplatonist Laura Quinney 291

Called to Poetry: Hardy, Heaney, Hennessy Elaine Scarry 302

Notes onContributors 321

Index 327

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