Questions of Possibility: Contemporary Poetry and Poetic Form

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9780195313253: Questions of Possibility: Contemporary Poetry and Poetic Form
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Questions of Possibility examines the particular forms that contemporary American poets favor and those they neglect. The poets' choices reveal both their ambitions and their limitations, the new possibilities they discover and the traditions they find unimaginable.

By means of close attention to the sestina, ghazal, love sonnet, ballad, and heroic couplet, this study advances a new understanding of contemporary American poetry. Rather than pitting "closed" verse against "open" and "traditional" poetry against "experimental," Questions of Possibility explores how poets associated with different movements inspire and inform each other's work. Discussing a range of authors, from Charles Bernstein, Derek Walcott, and Marilyn Hacker to Agha Shahid Ali, David Caplan treats these poets as contemporaries who share the language, not as partisans assigned to rival camps. The most interesting contemporary poetry crosses the boundaries that literary criticism draws, synthesizing diverse influences and establishing surprising affinities. In a series of lively readings, Caplan charts the diverse characteristics and accomplishments of modern poetry, from the gay and lesbian love sonnet to the currently popular sestina.

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David Caplan is Assistant Professor of English at Ohio Wesleyan University.

Review:


"In his indispensable book, Questions of Possibility, David Caplan argues that 'the plurality of alternatives that contemporary poets encounter' has destabilized our sense of 'acceptable options'."
--Carmine Starnino, Lazy Bastardism: Essays & Reviews on Contemporary Poetry


"Among the virtues of David Caplan's Questions of Possibility is his concern to debunk the malignant view that aesthetic conservatism is politically retrograde, [and] offers a useful assessment of the delicate balance poets face when confronting volatile, disturbing, and otherwise complex subjects in the late twentieth century."-Jed Rasula, American Literary History


"Caplan admirably steers a thoroughly personable course between the opposing parties he wants to unite--formalists and free-versers, poets and academics, those for and against the political dimensions of poetic craft--and his remarkably able intervention in all three of the antagonisms is very welcome. The book is inventive and energetic, and a delight when it aims its polemical cannons at polemicits and lazy readers. Caplan offers in place of standard antagonisms his own generous enthusiasm; indeed, his arguments might instruct best when they set, as they consistently do, such a fine example for the rest of us."--Christopher Matthews, South Atlantic Review


"The title of David Caplan's excellent book is especially appropriate, suggesting as it does the shifting registers of Caplan's mind, his taut flexibility before the paradoxical but not unyielding rigours of poetic form: the way that poems open us to fresh possibilities of perception even as they question those perceptions by sharpening our sense of limit. Poems that take hold, as Caplan compellingly shows, are always an opening and shutting case."--George Kalogeris, Essays in Criticism


"There are, from time to time, books on the state of the art of poetry whose illustrative readings enable me to read familiar poems far better and unfamiliar ones avidly. David Caplan's new book on contemporary poetry and poetic form did the trick this year. Caplan's detailed readings of specimen poems afford great pleasure."--Frank Kearful, American Literary Scholarship


"Caplan's book is convincing. This is a valuable, lively, informative, and thoroughly engaging study."-Stephen Matterson, Modern Language Review


"it is a study accessible to academics and casual readers alike, unburdened by jargon and enamored of its subject. One possibility this volume's title implicitly proposes may be whether poetry and criticism might regain a wider audience if more writers balanced sophistication with clarity, seriousness with enthusiasm, as Caplan surely has."--James Matthew Wilson, American Book Review


"Poetic discourse in the century past was taken up disproportionately by what David Caplan, in this excellent book, calls 'the prosody wars.'... Caplan has the eminently reasonable idea of seeing what it is that poets are actually doing with poetic form.... Drawing from the works of Adrienne Rich, Anthony Hecht, Derek Walcott, and Seamus Heaney, among others, Caplan has written a book that working poets and serious readers of poetry alike will find of great value."--Virginia Quarterly Review


"In a lively, intelligent study unencumbered by the jargon that infests much current work, Caplan offers a sensitive and convincing consideration of poetic form within social and political contexts.... Caplan's study is valuable.... Highly recommended."--Choice


"David Caplan's Questions of Possibility: Contemporary Poetry and Poetic Form is a good and necessary book that teaches or reinforces some vital lessons about poetry and poetic form.... An astute book that offers much, supplying a generous amount of information on the details of recent poetic history."--Pleiades: A Journal of New Writing


"Questions of Possibility is an invitation to rethink the ways in which we far too often, wittingly or not, define poetry in exclusive and misleading terms. Caplan is clearly adept at reading form such as the sestina, and chapters on the sonnet and the ballad offer unique perspectives on the political possibilities that such form represent. Caplan's book offers an important and timely argument, as he reminds us that the distinction between formal verse and free verse is misleading at best."--The Journal of the Midwest Modern Language Association


"This book succeeds on both the local and the more general level. It is a sign of Caplan's sanity and literary acumen that he can be both lucid and provocative at once. The book has a persuasive rhythm to it - ebbing and flowing between historical and theoretical speculation on one hand, and astute close readings on the other." --Willard Spiegelman, Modernism/Modernity


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Book Description Oxford University Press Inc, United States, 2006. Paperback. Condition: New. Revised ed.. Language: English. Brand new Book. Questions of Possibility examines the particular forms that contemporary American poets favor and those they neglect. The poets' choices reveal both their ambitions and their limitations, the new possibilities they discover and the traditions they find unimaginable. By means of close attention to the sestina, ghazal, love sonnet, ballad, and heroic couplet, this study advances a new understanding of contemporary American poetry. Rather than pitting "closed" verse against "open" and "traditional" poetry against "experimental," Questions of Possibility explores how poets associated with different movements inspire and inform each other's work. Discussing a range of authors, from Charles Bernstein, Derek Walcott, and Marilyn Hacker to Agha ShahidAli, David Caplan treats these poets as contemporaries who share the language, not as partisans assigned to rival camps. The most interesting contemporary poetry crosses the boundaries that literary criticism draws, synthesizing diverse influences and establishing surprising affinities. In a series of livelyreadings, Caplan charts the diverse characteristics and accomplishments of modern poetry, from the gay and lesbian love sonnet to the currently popular sestina. Seller Inventory # AAV9780195313253

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Book Description Oxford University Press Inc, United States, 2006. Paperback. Condition: New. Revised ed.. Language: English. Brand new Book. Questions of Possibility examines the particular forms that contemporary American poets favor and those they neglect. The poets' choices reveal both their ambitions and their limitations, the new possibilities they discover and the traditions they find unimaginable. By means of close attention to the sestina, ghazal, love sonnet, ballad, and heroic couplet, this study advances a new understanding of contemporary American poetry. Rather than pitting "closed" verse against "open" and "traditional" poetry against "experimental," Questions of Possibility explores how poets associated with different movements inspire and inform each other's work. Discussing a range of authors, from Charles Bernstein, Derek Walcott, and Marilyn Hacker to Agha ShahidAli, David Caplan treats these poets as contemporaries who share the language, not as partisans assigned to rival camps. The most interesting contemporary poetry crosses the boundaries that literary criticism draws, synthesizing diverse influences and establishing surprising affinities. In a series of livelyreadings, Caplan charts the diverse characteristics and accomplishments of modern poetry, from the gay and lesbian love sonnet to the currently popular sestina. Seller Inventory # AAV9780195313253

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