Regions of Unlikeness: Explaining Contemporary Poetry

Gardner, Thomas

Published by University of Nebraska Press, 1999
ISBN 10: 0803221762 / ISBN 13: 9780803221765
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Synopsis: In Regions of Unlikeness Thomas Gardner explores the ways a number of quite different twentieth-century American poets, including Elizabeth Bishop, John Ashbery, Robert Hass, Jorie Graham, and Michael Palmer, frame their work as taking place within, and being brought to life by, an acknowledgment of the limits of language. Gardner approaches their poetry in light of philosopher Stanley Cavell’s remarkably similar engagement with the issues of skepticism and linguistic finitude. The skeptic’s refusal to settle for anything less than perfect knowledge of the world, Cavell maintains, amounts to a refusal to accept the fact of human finitude. Gardner argues that both Cavell and the poets he discusses reject skepticism’s world-erasing conclusions but nonetheless honor the truth about the limits of knowledge that skepticism keeps alive. In calling attention to the limits of such acts as describing or remembering, the poets Gardner examines attempt to renew language by teasing a charged drama out of their inability to grasp with certainty. Juxtaposed with Gardner’s readings of the work of the younger poets are his interviews with them. In many ways, these conversations are at the core of Gardner’s book, demonstrating the wide-ranging implications of the struggles and mappings enacted in the poems. The interviews are themselves examples of the charged intimacy Gardner deals with in his readings.

About the Author: Thomas Gardner, a professor of English at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, is the author of Discovering Ourselves in Whitman: The Contemporary American Long Poem and The Mime, Speaking, a book of poetry.

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Title: Regions of Unlikeness: Explaining ...
Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
Publication Date: 1999
Book Condition: Fair

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