(2016). Contemporary American poetry has plenty to offer new readers, and plenty more for those who already follow it. Yet its difficulty—and sheer variety—leaves many readers puzzled or overwhelmed. The critic, scholar, and poet Stephen Burt sets out to help. Beginning in the early 1980s, where critical consensus ends, Burt canvasses American poetry of the past four decades, from the headline-making urgency of Claudia Rankine’s Citizen to the stark pathos of Louise Glück, the limitless energy of Juan Felipe Herrera, and the erotic provocations of D. A. Powell.
(2015) In this panoramic interpretation, the distinguished Milton scholar Gordon Teskey shows how the poet’s changing commitments are subordinated to an aesthetic that joins beauty to truth and value to ethics. The art of poetry is rediscovered by Milton as a way of thinking in the world as it is, and for the world as it can be.
(2015). One of our foremost commentators on poetry examines the work of a broad range of nineteenth- and twentieth-century English, Irish, and American poets. The Ocean, the Bird, and the Scholar gathers two decades’ worth of Helen Vendler’s essays, book reviews, and occasional prose―including the 2004 Jefferson Lecture―in a single volume.
(2012). The culmination of five decades of research, this monumental work of descriptive bibliography, containing entries for more than 1,300 editions, assembles by date of printing the corpus of poetry composed and printed in the United States of America in books and pamphlets up through 1820.
(2003) Through the lens of Peter Sacks’s actual journey from a strife-torn South Africa to a haunted and spiritually frayed America, Necessity travels from remembered heights unblemished by time’s weight, through deserts laden by the debris of our mad dreams—progress, conquest, salvation—to arrive at the waters of communal memory, values, and love.
(2000) O Wheel is a book of amazing delicacy, intricacy, and formal beauty that reveals terrifying truths. Its backdrop is an edgy mix of the intense violence of South Africa’s recent history, the personal struggles of the human soul for the rights to speak freely and to experience justice, and the expanse of the American literary landscape.
(1997). The 1996 Pulitzer winner in poetry and a major collection, Jorie Graham’s The Dream of the United Field: Selected Poems 1974-1994 spans twenty years of writing and includes generous selections from her first five books: Hybrids of Plants and of Ghosts, Erosion, The End of Beauty, Region of Unlikeness, and Materialism.
(2006) “Black is a brilliant and fiery look at race and culture. Its genesis is Clark’s time at Duke University in the late ’90s; that experience unleashed political and personal outrage. This poetry is white-hot with honesty and anger. It is shocking, transgressive-and ultimately transforming.”
(2008). No Planets Strike, the debut collection of poetry by Josh Bell, reads as a playfully serious record of modernity. Subversive in their treatment of the contemporary voice, broad in their subject matter, and often delightfully funny, the poems in this collection have a brilliant ear language.
(2012). In P L A C E, Graham explores the ways in which our imagination, intuition, and experience—increasingly devalued by a culture that regards them as “mere” subjectivity—aid us in navigating a world moving blindly towards its own annihilation and a political reality where the human person and its dignity are increasingly disposable.
(2008). In Sea Change, Graham brings us to the once-unimaginable threshold at which civilization as we know it becomes unsustainable. How might the human spirit persist, caught between its abiding love of beauty, its acknowledgment of continuing injury and damage done, and the realization that the existence of a “future” itself may no longer be assured?
(2007). Trudeau, makes an irreverent, jubilant portrait of the life and politics of one of Canada’s most controversial political heroes, Pierre Elliott Trudeau. Clarke’s poem provides a whimsical and informative look at the balance of world powers in the 1960s and 70s, infused with the spirit of the many revolutions taking place throughout the world during these years.
(2012). Daniel Albright gathers parables, poems, dreams, translations, written during a three-year period following the death of his father. Accompanied by artwork by the poet and artist Peter Sacks, the cahier is an attempt to translate private experiences into something with public meaning.
(2007). The fundamental difference between rhetoric and poetry, according to Yeats, is that rhetoric is the expression of one’s quarrels with others while poetry is the expression (and sometimes the resolution) of one’s quarrel with oneself. This is where Helen Vendler’s Our Secret Discipline begins. Through exquisite attention to outer and inner forms, Vendler explores the most inventive reaches of the poet’s mind.
(2010). Helen Vendler examines the ways in which five great modern American poets, writing their final books, try to find a style that does justice to life and death alike. With traditional religious consolations no longer available to them, these poets must invent new ways to express the crisis of death, as well as the paradoxical coexistence of a declining body and an undiminished consciousness.
(2009). Many students today are puzzled by the meaning and purpose of poetry. Poems, Poets, Poetry demystifies the form and introduces students to its artistry and pleasures, using methods that Helen Vendler has successfully used herself over her long, celebrated career. Guided by Vendler’s erudite yet down-to-earth approach, students at all levels can benefit from her authoritative instruction.
(2013). In Belmont, Stephen Burt maps out the joys and the limits of the life he has chosen, the life that chose him, examining and reimagining parenthood, marriage, adulthood, and suburbia alongside a brace of wild or pretty alternatives, and the real life to which he returns, with his family, driving home in an ode-worthy silver Subaru.
(2009). The argument of Delirious Milton, inspired in part by the architectural theorist Rem Koolhaas’s Delirious New York, is that Milton’s creative power is drawn from a rift at the center of his consciousness over the question of creation itself.
(2011). While Milton is recognized as one of the most learned English poets in history, his Latin poetry is less well known. Slavitt’s careful rendering brings Milton’s Latin poems—many written in his late teens—into the present. Featuring an introduction by Gordon Teskey, this comprehensive English-language collection of Milton’s Latin poems pays due respect to a master.
(2011). Few poetic forms have found more uses than the sonnet in English, and none is now more recognizable. It is one of the longest-lived of verse forms, and one of the briefest. A mere fourteen lines, fashioned by intricate rhymes, it is, as Dante Gabriel Rossetti called it, “a moment’s monument.” From the Renaissance to the present, the sonnet has given poets a superb vehicle for private contemplation, introspection, and the expression of passionate feelings and thoughts.
(2012). Vendler turns her illuminating skills as a critic to 150 selected poems of Emily Dickinson. In selecting these poems Vendler chooses to exhibit many aspects of Dickinson’s work as a poet, “from her first-person poems to the poems of grand abstraction, from her ecstatic verses to her unparalleled depictions of emotional numbness, from her comic anecdotes to her painful poems of aftermath.”