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Thinking Poetics, Thinking Poetics, 0817316620, 0-8173-1662-0, 978-0-8173-1662-4, 9780817316624, , , Thinking Poetics, 0817355464, 0-8173-5546-4, 978-0-8173-5546-3, 9780817355463,

Thinking Poetics
Essays on George Oppen

Quality Paper
2009. 320 pp.
Price:  $34.95 s

A long overdue collection of critical writing on Oppen's substantial legacy.

George Oppen, a crucial figure in the founding of the Objectivist poetry movement, is considered by many critics and poets to be one of the foremost innovators of 20th-century American poetry. Oppen's Of Being Numerous won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1969, and his influence on subsequent generations of poets has been profound.

The contributors to this unique collection of essays are both poets and critics who adopt a variety of critical stances. Some write as fellow poets who knew Oppen well during his lifetime and who have been deeply influenced by his example in their own work. Others write as poet-critics affiliated with the Language Poetry movement and bring to Oppen's work a keen appreciation for its relevance to contemporary avant-garde poetics. Still others come to Oppen as members of a younger generation of readers and writers working to articulate a new stage in Oppen's reception. The result is a rich and productive critical dialogue, touching on many of the most significant facets of Oppen's life and work. Thinking Poetics is a testament to Oppen's place in 20th and 21st-century poetic culture and an essential volume for anyone interested in Oppen's life or poetry.

Steve Shoemaker is Assistant Professor of English and Director of the Roth Writing Center at Connecticut College.

Contributors: Charles Bernstein \ Michael Davidson \ Rachel Blau DuPlessis \ Theodore Enslin \ Forrest Gander \ Lyn Hejinian \ Michael Heller \ John Lowney \ Peter Nicholls \ Kristin Prevallet \ Steve Shoemaker \ Ron Silliman \ John Taggart \ Susan Thackrey \ Henry Weinfield

"Oppen (1908-84) is a significant figure in 20th-century poetry, but the significance of his work came to light only after his death and the posthumous publication of his letters and poems (The Selected Letters of George Oppen, ed. by Rachel Blau DuPlessis, CH, Feb'91, 28-3178; New Collected Poems, ed. by Michael Davidson, 2002; Selected Poems, ed. by Robert Creeley, 2003; Selected Prose, Daybooks, and Papers, ed. by Stephen Cope, CH, Jun'08, 45-5431) and of Peter Nicholls's magisterial George Oppen and the Fate of Modernism (CH, Sep'08, 46-0144). The essays Shoemaker (Connecticut College) gathers are by turns probing, polemical, and performative--attributes that characterize Oppen's life and work. The contributors include poets who were close to Oppen (Theodore Enslin, John Taggart, Michael Haller, Henry Weinfield, Rachel Blau DuPlessis), poets/critics in the Language poetry circle or generation (Charles Bernstein, Ron Silliman, Lyn Hejinian, Michael Davidson, Forrest Gander), academic critics (John Lowney, Nicholls), and poets/critics of a later generation (Kristin Prevallet, Shoemaker). Many of the pieces center on Oppen's silence between Discrete Series (1934) and the late 1950s, figuring this silence as a metaphor for gaps between modernism/postmodernism, thinking/knowledge, and politics/aesthetics. This collection reengages the reader with Oppen's life and work and encourages thinking about poetics. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty."

“This volume will make an important contribution to our knowledge of Oppen’s work and will become a key book for Oppen’s readers as well as for new readers of Oppen’s poetry.”

—Hank Lazer, author of Lyric & SpiritSelected Essays, 1996–2008, and fifteen books of poetry.