What Goes On: Selected and New Poems 1995-2009

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Overview

Brilliant new poems and an expansive gathering from six collections by a Pulitzer Prize winner celebrated as “indispensable.”What Goes On displays the evolving style and sensibility of a major award-winning poet, and a traceable growth that has blossomed into a provocative confrontation with questions of consciousness and existence. Stephen Dunn’s poems probe life’s big questions without ever losing sight of the significance of the mundane.

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What Goes On: Selected and New Poems 1995-2009

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Overview

Brilliant new poems and an expansive gathering from six collections by a Pulitzer Prize winner celebrated as “indispensable.”What Goes On displays the evolving style and sensibility of a major award-winning poet, and a traceable growth that has blossomed into a provocative confrontation with questions of consciousness and existence. Stephen Dunn’s poems probe life’s big questions without ever losing sight of the significance of the mundane.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Pulitzer-winner Dunn has, since the 1970s, offered pellucid free verse with a great deal of thought cast into deliberately plain diction, about the ups and downs, the epiphanies and the wisdom, of middle-class domestic life. This 16th book of poems and second Selected will certainly give loyal readers what they seek: prose poems and free-verse stanzas about small pleasures, houses and roads, disappointments, and sex, or the lack of it. "One night they both needed different things/ of a similar sort: she, solace, he to be consoled," one subtle if typical poem begins; another finds Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein, "almost ready to praise this awful world." In his recent poems (including 20 new ones) faithful readers will also find surprises, none harsher or more startling than the poems from The Insistence of Beauty(2004) about late-life divorce. Dunn also takes into his usually calm sensibility the public events of recent years-9/11, the war in Iraq; these politicized calamities give him unsettling backdrops for his pathos, and his ongoing search for consolation: "how sad it is," he imagines telling God, "that awe has been replaced/ by small enthusiasms, that you're aware/ things just aren't the same these days." (Jan.)

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Library Journal

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and author of numerous books (e.g., Different Hours), Dunn presents a survey volume that contains selections from six of his previous titles, as well as a small sample of newer work. Well known for his forays into the middle-class psyche, Dunn traverses in his newest book familiar ground, with its interrogations of love, nature, and the inevitable glance back toward youth. But a book that makes such extensive use of the first person can only be as interesting as its narrator, and as the book progresses, rarefied moment after rarefied moment, it does so with a kind of plodding weariness that infects the reader. While there are many good lines and wry observations, they are not enough to carry the book, and sadly, the small section of newer poems does not depart in any meaningful way from Dunn's earlier work. Libraries that carry Dunn's previous books can probably pass on this one.
—Chris Pusateri

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393338553
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/5/2010
  • Pages: 204
  • Sales rank: 234,351
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephen Dunn is the author of seventeen poetry collections, including What Goes On: New and Selected Poems 1995–2009 and, most recently, Here and Now. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his collection Different Hours. He has also been a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and has received an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. A Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Richard Stockton College, he lives in Frostburg, Maryland, with his wife, the writer Barbara Hurd.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 22, 2009

    Terrific collection of his work; great new material

    Dunn's new collection is wonderful. It is a very interesting and enjoyable collection of previously published work -- makes you want to buy some of his earlier books. His newest materials is a clear development from previous material. Highly recommended for anyone interested in Dunn, poetry or wanting to take a stab at modern poetry for the first time. It is accessible and throught-provoking yet complex without being obtuse.

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