Close Calls with Nonsense: Reading New Poetry

Close Calls with Nonsense: Reading New Poetry

by Stephen Burt


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Essays and critical writings on contemporary poetry by Stephen Burt, "the finest critic of his generation" (Lucie Brock-Broido)

Stephen Burt's Close Calls with Nonsense provokes readers into the elliptical worlds of Rae Armantrout, Paul Muldoon, C. D. Wright, and other contemporary poets whose complexities make them challenging, original, and, finally, readable. Burt's intelligence and enthusiasm introduce both tentative and longtime poetry readers to the rewards of reading new poetry. As Burt writes in the title essay: "The poets I know don't want to be famous people half so much as they want their best poems read; I want to help you find and read them. I write here for people who want to read more new poetry but somehow never get around to it; for people who enjoy Seamus Heaney or Elizabeth Bishop and want to know what next; for people who enjoy John Ashbery or Anne Carson but aren't sure why; and, especially, for people who read the half-column poems in glossy magazines and ask, ‘Is that all there is?'"

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781555975210
Publisher: Graywolf Press
Publication date: 03/31/2009
Edition description: Original
Pages: 360
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

STEPHEN BURT is the author of two critical books on poetry as well as two poetry collections, including Parallel Play. His essays and reviews have appeared in The Believer, The Nation, and The New York Times Book Review. He teaches at Harvard University.

Table of Contents

Preface: In Favor of One's Time ix

I Close Calls with Nonsense: How to Read, and Perhaps Enjoy, Very New Poetry 5

II Where Every Eye's a Guard Rae Armantrout 23

Lightsource, Aperture, Face: C. D. Wright and Photography 41

Dream Sermons Donald Revell 61

The One I Love Needs Sunblock Laura Kasischke 71

How I Got From Dictionary to Here Liz Waldner 79

Undocumentary Juan Felipe Herrera 91

Cool among Shadows and Cellophane August Kleinzahler 95

Believe Your Naysayers Allan Peterson Terrance Hayes 99

Envisioning Pain Mary Leader H. L. Hix 107

Here Is the Door Marked Heaven D. A. Powell 117

My Name Is Henri: Contemporary Poets Discover John Berryman 129

III I Do Not Expect You to Like It James K. Baxter 147

From the Planet Dungog Les Murray 163

Already Knotted In Denise Riley 175

Write Another Party John Tranter 183

Kinesthetic Aesthetics Thom Gunn 199

Early Paul Muldoon 215

Late Paul Muldoon 225

IV Everything Must Go John Ashbery 237

Not Unlike You Richard Wilbur 247

Counting the Days Robert Creeley 255

Becoming Literature James Merrill 267

Marvelous Devising A. R. Ammons 283

Out of Glacial Time Stanley Kunitz 295

Hi, Louise! Frank O'Hara 303

Raking Leaves in New Madrid Lorine Niedecker 317

They Grow Everywhere William Carlos Williams 329

V The Elliptical Poets 345

Without Evidence: Remarks on Reading Contemporary Poetry and on Reading about It 357

Acknowledgments 369

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