1 The choice of books to be reviewed, here as elsewhere,
is of course the assigning editor's. But we should bear in mind that, in
the case of omnibus reviews, the reviewer reserves the right to omit specific
items or to decline the commission. In what follows, then, I attribute responsibility
to Maxwell rather than to the TLS editor.
2.The New York Times Book Review, 15 January
1995, p. 15.
3 See Dana Gioia, Can Poetry Matter? (New
York: Graywolf Press, 1992). Gioia claims that until 1960 or so, poetry
had a wide circulation-- it appeared in newspapers and popular magazines,
along with political journalism, humor, fiction and reviews--and it was
widely reviewed and discussed in the leading papers. But the quality of
that "it" is open to question, as I argue here.
4 The Brown Introduction (unpaginated) is reprinted
as the headnote to each of the 72 Arno Reprint volumes, followed by Alfred
Kazin's "A Sense of History."
5 Jimmy Carter, "Sport," Always a Reckoning
(New York: Random House, 1995), p. 23.
6 T.J. G. Harris, "In the Labyrinth", PN
Review 80 (July/august 1991): 71.
7 Eavan Boland, "Identities and Disguises"
(review of Michael Longely, Poems 1963-1983 and E. A. Markham, Living
in Disguise), PN Review 55 ((1987), p. 95.
8 For an excellent sociological account of how and
why poetry still occupies this privileged position, in name if not in fact,
see Pierre Bourdieu, The Field of Cultural Production : Essays
on Art and Literature, edited Randal Johnson (New York: Columbia University
Press, 1993), Chapter 6, "Principles for a Sociology of Cultural Works",
9 The CD is disappointing, there being no explanation
of the eclectic mix of poets represented, many of whom (e.g., Alice Notley,
Kenward Elmslie) are not in the book at all and some, like the Jack Spicer
"Imaginary Elegies" (1957), and John Ashbery's "'They Dream
Only of America'" (1962), stemming from earlier decades. One could
argue that the aim here, as in the book, is to produce telling juxtapositions,
but in practice, the sequence from Michael Palmer to Ted Berrigan creates
more confusion than insight.
10 Ming-Quian Ma, a Chinese doctoral candidate at
Stanford, who has published essays on Carl Rakosi, George Oppen, Susan Howe,
and Lyn Hejinian, and who is working on further translations of the "Original"
poets with Jeff Twitchell, tells me that in the original (pardon the pun),
the poems in question are much more non-syntactic and disjunctive than in
11 One should bear in mind that in the U.S., almost
50% of the appropriate population attends university and that university
campuses draw in a larger public that shares the concerns of particular
departments, attends lectures and readings, and so on. But this public,
though surprisingly large, is by no means equivalent to, say, the general
TLS or NYTBR readership.
12 To date, in the U.S., A Poetics has been
reviewed in the following mix of scholarly journals and "little magazines":
Agni Review, American Literature, College Literature Common
Knowledge, Comparative Literature Studies, Contemporary Literature,
Harvard Review, Modernism / Modernity, Sulfur, Virginia
Quarterly Review, West Coast Line, World Literature Today.