By Herself: Women Reclaim Poetry

By Herself: Women Reclaim Poetry

By Herself: Women Reclaim Poetry

By Herself: Women Reclaim Poetry

Synopsis

Have women finally moved beyond the status of cultural outsiders to become full participants in American poetry and its criticism? In By Herself: Women Reclaim Poetry, contemporary women poets reconsider their art form on their own terms, and the results are both telling and fascinating. This lively and richly varied collection offers more than two dozen essays that are uniformly original, challenging, playful, and ruthlessly individualistic.

Excerpt

When did you last read a review of poetry? Did the language of the critic tend to serve the language of the poet? Or were the critic and the poet speaking different languages, at times estranged or mutually opposed?

While editing reviews of poetry over recent years, I have noticed, too often for my liking, a silent resident ocean separating the critic from the poet, and challenging the authority of each: for the standard form and lingo of a review shares little with the lavish, unpredictable tongue of a poem, bringing to a peremptory end the conversation they might have shared. Poet and critic too soon part ways in many respects, bowing to that ocean between them. They observe fundamentally different habits of diction, syntax, rhythm, imagination, knowledge, sympathy, scope. Their habits, drastically distinct, often hinder any chance at union, quell the nascent give-and-take. Poets who write criticism can offer the advantages of poetry to their prose. Critics who aren't poets may or may not.

Briefly, these are some of this book's reasons for being. As an editor and a critic who is also a poet, I hoped to gather together essays written by contemporary poets who harbored a critical appetite, though of vastly varying style and bent, in order to explore possibilities in criticism -- and, of course, possibilities in poetry. I also hoped to persuade myself that criticism could be as well and fully voiced as poetry sometimes is. Although critics, especially when meeting the requirements of certain kinds of review assignments, often end up sounding rather like one another, criticism is potentially nearly as artfully expressive as the poetry . . .

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