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Poetics & Polemics, Poetics & Polemics, 0817316272, 0-8173-1627-2, 978-0-8173-1627-3, 9780817316273, , Modern and Contemporary Poetics, Poetics & Polemics, 0817355073, 0-8173-5507-3, 978-0-8173-5507-4, 9780817355074, , Modern and Contemporary Poetics, Poetics & Polemics, 0817380752, 0-8173-8075-2, 978-0-8173-8075-5, 9780817380755, , Modern and Contemporary Poetic

Poetics & Polemics
by Jerome Rothenberg
Edited by Steven Clay

Quality Paper
2008. 360 pp.
Price:  $29.95 s
E Book
360 pp.
Price:  $39.95 d
Expected Availability 12/1/2022

Poetics & Polemics, 1980-2005 brings together in one volume a wide-ranging selection of essays and commentaries by one of the most significant poets, critics, and translators working with American and international poetry today.

Jerome Rothenberg’s work spans a period of over forty years and nearly one hundred books, and though perhaps best known as a poet, his critical and theoretical contributions to the fields of innovative, experimental poetry have become equally important facets of his work. Rothenberg’s earliest critical writings concerned themselves with ethnopoetics and the poetics of performance. In the last twenty years his critical thinking has evolved to encompass more explicitly issues of modernism, postmodernism, and the avant-garde, as well as meditations on the nature of the book and writing. This volume extends and elaborates all of those interests, allowing for the first time a comprehensive glimpse of the full trajectory of his thinking.


In the first section, “Poetics and Polemics,” Rothenberg’s essays address a range of issues with which he’s become closely associated, among them the anthology as a critical and polemical tool; the intersection of poetry with art, performance, and politics, in both contemporary and traditional practice; the poetics of Jewish mysticism as a traditional form of conceptual and language poetry; and the universality of poetic discourse, particularly as seen in tribal poetry or in poetic traditions long separated from the Western literary mainstream.  In “A Gallery of Poets” is Rothenberg’s lively explorations of the work of other poets, as they relate to his own work, to avant-garde poetry in general, and to the poetic traditions that concern him the most. Finally, in “Dialogues and Interviews” are Rothenberg’s unbridled meditations and musings on what he calls “the life of poetry” outside the bounds of book and binding, class and category, a dynamic force at the center of all that we call human. 

Jerome Rothenberg is the author of over eighty books of poetry and translation including Poems for the Game of Silence, Poland/1931, A Seneca Journal, Vienna Blood, That Dada Strain, New Selected Poems 1970-1985, Khurbn, and most recently, A Paradise of Poets, A Book of Witness, and Triptych.  Of his nine major “anthology-manifestos,” the best known are Technicians of the Sacred and Poems for the Millennium.  An earlier book of essays, Pre-Faces, appeared in 1985 and is still in print.

"A collection of sundry prose writings by a significant poet of the postwar generation, as selected by the poet, this volume is a valuable contribution to the literature. Poets' reputations, especially in a crowded contemporary field, often depend on their associations with movements that come to be seen as significant. It is too early to guess whether Rothenberg's gestures of self-definition will provide critics and readers with an argument for his importance. At this stage, 'deep image' poetry (with its Jungian assumptions) and 'ethnopoetics' (which seeks to find the poetic styles appropriate for a given geographical and cultural location) may seem out of key with intellectual fashion. Rothenberg is apparently aware of this, but his philosophical convictions remain strong. Possibly best known at this point for his work on anthologies, Rothenberg includes the preface to his enormous, multivolume Poems for the Millennium, which he coedited with Pierre Joris (1995-2009), and a large selection of commentaries on contemporaries (and some classic figures like Picasso). The diversity of the volume serves to underscore the clarity of Rothenberg's vision, amounting to a useful portrait of an admirable postmodern poet. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty."

"The significance of Jerome Rothenberg's animating spirit looms larger every year. . . . [He] is the ultimate 'hyphenated' poet: critic-anthropologist-editor-anthologist-performer-teacher-translator, to each of which he brings an unbridled exuberance and an innovator's insistence on transforming a given state of affairs."
--Charles Bernstein