website statistics Close Calls With Nonsense: Reading New Poetry - PDF Books Online
Hot Best Seller

Close Calls With Nonsense: Reading New Poetry

Availability: Ready to download

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 inte 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?'"


Compare

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 inte 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?'"

30 review for Close Calls With Nonsense: Reading New Poetry

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jee Koh

    Over the New Year weekend, spent on the bus and in the Woodstock home of D and T, who kindly took in a pair of holiday orphans, I read Close Calls with Nonsense, Stephen Burt's collection of essays on contemporary poetry, in particular, the kind he baptized Elliptical in an earlier article. To that article (included in this collection) he appends a 2004 postscript, in which he defends the notion of such a poetic "school." I think it is interesting to try to identify the common features of several Over the New Year weekend, spent on the bus and in the Woodstock home of D and T, who kindly took in a pair of holiday orphans, I read Close Calls with Nonsense, Stephen Burt's collection of essays on contemporary poetry, in particular, the kind he baptized Elliptical in an earlier article. To that article (included in this collection) he appends a 2004 postscript, in which he defends the notion of such a poetic "school." I think it is interesting to try to identify the common features of several vital poetic styles, especially if they seem to develop in response to the historical moment, and if they attract emulation by younger poets. But such an identification could have the effect of rendering poets who do not write in such a style even more invisible to the literary public. This is of course a natural consequence of championing any particular school. Burt is a gentle champion. He does not make grand claims with evangelistic fervor for the Elliptical poets but invites the reader to try some rather difficult poets that he himself have enjoyed working out. With me he succeeds most with his essays on Rae Armantrout (a L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poet) and Liz Waldner. The most useful piece in this section of the book is the essay about the influence of John Berryman on Mark Levine, Lucie Brock-Broido, Kevin Young, Susan Wheeler and Mary Jo Bang, among others. Despite Burt's identification with the term he invented, Close Calls actually shows the catholicity of his taste. Not only does he write sensitively of the sadness of John Ashbery, he also enjoys the sociability of James Merrill's formalist verse. He is appreciative of both Robert Creeley's laconic lines and Frank O'Hara's spontaneous chatter. He attends smartly to Thom Gunn's "Kinesthetic Aesthetics" and to A. R. Ammons "Marvelous Devising." One section of the book is devoted to non-Americans such as James K. Baxter, Les Murray, John Trantor, Denise Riley and Paul Muldoon. The last poet considered in a chapter of his own is William Carlos Williams. He is celebrated here not for his Americanness but for his innovative poetic music. In every essay Burt is concerned to describe what is singular in his chosen poets, what they should be valued for. And he finds very different values. If the values share anything in common, they are broadly humanistic, generously liberal. They are ethical but non-religious. Throughout he is suspicious of prescriptions, poetic or otherwise. He is interested, instead, in the development of an individual style.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ken

    It's tough to drop stars on a book of this nature--a book of essays about poetry and poets. Why? You should, I feel, be rating the writer, but in this case, some readers might fall prey to rating the subject matter. This book is especially susceptible because Burt covers so many poets. If you're like me, some chapters will be more enjoyable than others because you're interested in the poet OR you're interested in the quotes from the poet's poems OR, better yet, both. Trouble is, I liked some poet It's tough to drop stars on a book of this nature--a book of essays about poetry and poets. Why? You should, I feel, be rating the writer, but in this case, some readers might fall prey to rating the subject matter. This book is especially susceptible because Burt covers so many poets. If you're like me, some chapters will be more enjoyable than others because you're interested in the poet OR you're interested in the quotes from the poet's poems OR, better yet, both. Trouble is, I liked some poets and poems better than others. If I discovered I did NOT like a poet under discussion, I jumped ship on the chapter and swam to the next. Life at sea is fleeting, after all (there's a fleet of ships joke in there somewhere). Who does Burt wax poetic about? Here's the role call: Rae Armantrout (interesting), C.D. Wright (wrong for me), Donald Revell, Laura Kasischke, Liz Waldner, Juan Felipe Herrera (Burt himself doesn't seem much a fan), August Kleinzahler (gesundheit!), Allan Peterson and Terrance Hayes (imagine getting stuck with a chapter bunkmate!), Mary Leader and H.L. Hix, D.A Powell, John Berryman, James K. Baxter, Les Murray (Oz, mate), Denise Riley, John Tranter, Thomas Gunn (Burt's a fan and will make you one), Paul Muldoon (who gets two chapters called "Early" and "Late"), John Ashbery, Richard Wilbur, Robert Creeley, James Merrill (another Burt favorite), A.R. Ammons, Stanley Kunitz (interesting chapter), Frank O'Hara (charmed life, until the weird finish), Lorine Niedecker, and, one of my favorites, William Carlos Williams. So, yeah. School of Modern-ish Poetry is in session! I learned a lot about a lot of poets and may pursue some because of Burt's insights. In one of the three "general" essays included in this book, Burt even offers quotable remarks. Thus the need to quote a few: "To do a poem justice, explain what makes it unique; to get a poem noticed, explain what makes it typical." "One can demonstrate to skeptics the explicit rules that govern a skill, or a game, but not those that govern an art. Skeptics thus suspect art forms of possessing rules that are trade secrets, or rules that are really table manners." "Snobbery in the arts is reverse snobbery." "Why value the appearance of effort in poetry? Why value apparent (or actual) effortlessness? The first appears to demonstrate the mastery of a craft: the second, to demonstrate that poetry is not a craft at all." (I object. Poetry is most certainly a Craft, in my case.) "A.K. Ramanujan, in an interview: 'Some people are other people, and can never be themselves.' Some people are really, or essentially, imitators. Or readers, rather than writers. Or--alas--critics." "Fame, the being known, though in itself one of the most dangerous things to man, is nevertheless the true and appointed air, element, and setting of genius and its works" (Gerard Manley Hopkins to Robert Bridges). But "Publication is the auction / Of the mind of man" (Dickinson). "Some poets marry a language; some have affairs with it; some treat it as a parent, some as a child, some as an equal, or as a friend."

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mitzi

    I thought that this was a book to help the average reader understand newer poetry. Aside from three essays, this is more of a collection of critical pieces *about* modern poetry writers, and it is clearly not for average readers, but for real afficionados of poetry. For one thing, I would never want to play Scrabble with Burt--his vocabulary is astounding--and while I will admit that once I looked the words up on dictionary.com they were exactly the right word to make his point--many times I had I thought that this was a book to help the average reader understand newer poetry. Aside from three essays, this is more of a collection of critical pieces *about* modern poetry writers, and it is clearly not for average readers, but for real afficionados of poetry. For one thing, I would never want to play Scrabble with Burt--his vocabulary is astounding--and while I will admit that once I looked the words up on dictionary.com they were exactly the right word to make his point--many times I had to look up too many words to understand his point--"portmanteau word" , "mingling plagency", "phenomenological inquires"... maybe these are household words for poets and poetic students, but not me. In conjunction with the big vocabulary, his points were so dense and rapid at times, that I was continually having to read paragraphs 2 or 3 times to understand his point. And while describing one poet, he would refernce their work with a nod to another poet, whom I also didn't know. That aside, I will have to say that as a *textbook* this was very informative. I learned a lot of poetic verbage such as what a "sestina" or a "pantoum" is (although, it's not because Burt explains it, it's because I had to look it up) and I was introduced to a lot of names in poetry I hadn't heard before and he included enough of their poetry to help me decide whether I wanted to read more of their work. It took me about 2 months to wade through this book, but I look at it like I took a home study course on modern poets. Still, I think this was more of a 500 or graduate level course, and I could've used a poetry 101 or at least 200 first to really appreciate it.

  4. 4 out of 5

    James

    The intro is the best part--a useful, breezy, confident survey of modern American (and some British) poetry since 1950. Successive chapters are portraits, essentially, caricaturizing the styles of mostly well-known modern poets (Gunn is the poet of the body, Powell is the poet of spirit-in-body, etc.).

  5. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    Some excellent essays, a few middling, a couple failures. For the most part essential reading. I wish there were more reviewers of poetry (new and old, for that matter) as insightful and interesting as Mr Burt can be.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mattia

    This turned me onto poets I hadn't heard of and was generally enjoyable and inspiring. I'll be honest, I didn't quite finish it, so the lost star is only because I wasn't quite enthralled enough to suck this up. However, I read most of it and loved it, and now I really need to return it to the library :) This turned me onto poets I hadn't heard of and was generally enjoyable and inspiring. I'll be honest, I didn't quite finish it, so the lost star is only because I wasn't quite enthralled enough to suck this up. However, I read most of it and loved it, and now I really need to return it to the library :)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    Interesting stuff, but a lot of the poets are unfamiliar and their work isn’t very accessible. Even though it’s an American book, both James K Baxter and Les Murray appear.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Diann Blakely

    Superb. The essays on C.D. Wright and Laura Kascischke in particular are as classic as the phrase "elliptical poetry!" (And yes, Lucie Brock-Broido has been a favorite of mine since A HUNGER; and in the case of all three authors, I own every single volume (I think, for Kascischke is a hard one with whom to keep apace!) in the original edition, which is something of a miracle considering that I have moved 25 times in my 54 years). One of the things that makes Burt's criticism so important in our p Superb. The essays on C.D. Wright and Laura Kascischke in particular are as classic as the phrase "elliptical poetry!" (And yes, Lucie Brock-Broido has been a favorite of mine since A HUNGER; and in the case of all three authors, I own every single volume (I think, for Kascischke is a hard one with whom to keep apace!) in the original edition, which is something of a miracle considering that I have moved 25 times in my 54 years). One of the things that makes Burt's criticism so important in our poetic community--at least to me--is the empathy and depth he accords female writers. THE NEW YORK TIMES, which gives paltry coverage to poetry at best, has recently run six reviews, and Burt's is the only one to feature a woman: Kasischke again (didn't I say she was a difficult one with whom to stay current?) with another top-notch piece, this time on both THE RAISING and SPACE, IN CHAINS (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/03/boo...).

  9. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    I think books of this type are kind of hard to read: collections of essays written to be read individually, with a clutch of new poems, in a lit mag. Taken together, it becomes a bit of a slog, really. As someone who teaches contemporary poetry, I think it's important that this work be made more available to students. But that doesn't make the book as a whole a really compelling read, despite some early interesting claims-- the intro to the book, about what lyric poets do, was maybe the best par I think books of this type are kind of hard to read: collections of essays written to be read individually, with a clutch of new poems, in a lit mag. Taken together, it becomes a bit of a slog, really. As someone who teaches contemporary poetry, I think it's important that this work be made more available to students. But that doesn't make the book as a whole a really compelling read, despite some early interesting claims-- the intro to the book, about what lyric poets do, was maybe the best part of this book. The profiles of contemporary, new poets was also pretty revealing, though less so as the section progressed. The other stuff I think I could have dispensed with altogether-- Burt on Thom Gunn? Who needs it?

  10. 4 out of 5

    John Pappas

    The best poetry criticism I've read, maybe ever. Burt's lucid and limpid prose style never glosses over the complexity of the difficult poets he analyzes, as he finds patterns, confluences and revelations in every stanza. Worth the price of admission for the essays on Ashbery and Armantrout alone. The best poetry criticism I've read, maybe ever. Burt's lucid and limpid prose style never glosses over the complexity of the difficult poets he analyzes, as he finds patterns, confluences and revelations in every stanza. Worth the price of admission for the essays on Ashbery and Armantrout alone.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Aimee

    Nice introduction to a wide variety of poets with highly sophisticated commentary. Some essays engaged me more than others. Definitely inspired to read more widely of both familiar and unfamiliar writers that Burt mentions...

  12. 4 out of 5

    Gary McDowell

    Coming in April '09. Will help with comps? Coming in April '09. Will help with comps?

  13. 5 out of 5

    Tara

    A nice introduction to contemporary poetry, through the close examination of a variety of poets and their work. Refreshingly jargon-free.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

  15. 5 out of 5

    Fluffy Singler

  16. 4 out of 5

    Andy Stevens

  17. 5 out of 5

    Carmen

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lynn Cullivan

  19. 4 out of 5

    Julio Zeledon

  20. 5 out of 5

    Richard

  21. 4 out of 5

    Andy

  22. 5 out of 5

    Simone

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jessie

  24. 4 out of 5

    Dania

  25. 4 out of 5

    Rldsr12

  26. 5 out of 5

    Michael

  27. 4 out of 5

    Laird

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

  29. 4 out of 5

    Gregory

  30. 4 out of 5

    Timothy

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...