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Radical Affections, Radical Affections, 0817317112, 0-8173-1711-2, 978-0-8173-1711-9, 9780817317119, , , Radical Affections, 0817384413, 0-8173-8441-3, 978-0-8173-8441-8, 9780817384418, , , Radical Affections, 0817356215, 0-8173-5621-5, 978-0-8173-5621-7, 9780817356217,

Radical Affections
Essays on the Poetics of Outside
Miriam Nichols

Trade Cloth
2010. 368 pp.
1 Illustration
Price:  $59.95 s
E Book
2010. 368 pp.
1 Illustration
Price:  $39.95 d
Quality Paper
2010. 368 pp.
1 Illustration
Price:  $39.95 s

In 1950 the poet Charles Olson published his influential essay “Projective Verse” in which he proposed a poetry of “open field” composition—to replace traditional closed poetic forms with improvised forms that would reflect exactly the content of the poem.


The poets and poetry that have followed in the wake of the “projectivist” movement—the Black Mountain group, the New York School, the San Francisco Renaissance, and the Language poets—have since been studied at length. But more often than not they have been studied through the lens of continental theory with the effect that these highly propositional, pragmatic, and adaptable forms of verse were interpreted in very cramped, polemical ways.


Radical Affections is a study of six poets central to the New American poetry—Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, Robert Duncan, Jack Spicer, Robin Blaser, and Susan Howe—with an eye both toward challenging the theoretical lenses through which they have been viewed and to opening up this counter tradition to contemporary practice.


Miriam Nichols highlights many of the impulses original to the thinking and methods of each poet: appeals to perceptual experience, spontaneity, renewed relationships with nature, engaging the felt world—what Nichols terms a “poetics of outside”—focusing squarely on experiences beyond the self-regarding self. As Nichols states, these poets may well “represent the last moment in recent cultural history when a serious poet could write from perception or pursue a visionary poetics without irony or quotation marks and expect serious intellectual attention.”

Miriam Nichols is University Professor of English at the University of the Fraser Valley in British Columbia and coeditor of The Holy Forest: Collected Poems of Robin Blaser and The Fire: Collected Essays of Robin Blaser.

“A groundbreaking study. . . . This is the most important study of projectivist poetics ever written. Anyone interested in poetics since World War II, in ecopoetics, and in the relationship of poetry to philosophy will have to read this book.”

—Stephen Fredman, coeditor of Form, Power, and Person in Robert Creeley’s Life and Work

“Nichols’s book presents the ‘new American’ poetry as ‘a living counter tradition’ that was too quickly dismissed as utopian, naive, or simply out of touch during the ‘theory decades’ of the 1980s and 1990s. . . . The book’s subtitle refers to the dual condition of embodiment and ‘emplacedness’ that roots an individual in that ‘something larger,’ and Nichols lays out the ways in which these poets track ‘the cartography of the outside’ and enact models of experience that engage fully with ‘the practice of outside.’ The chapters on Olson and Duncan are especially strong, but Nichols sustains a sophisticated argument with surprising engagement throughout the book. Highly recommended.”--CHOICE

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