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Can Poetry Matter?: Essays on Poetry and American Culture Paperback – September 1, 2002

4.3 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“No one, I think, has written with greater clarity or greater poignancy-or with a greater sense of urgency, either-about the 'subculture' in which the art of poetry is still confined....” ―Hilton Kramer, The New Criterion

Can Poetry Matter? is an important book, and anyone who professes to care about the state of American poetry will have to take it into account.” ―World Literature Today

“If you're an educated general reader, and you read only one book about contemporary poetry, this should be that book.” ―Booklist

About the Author

An acclaimed poet, essayist, anthologist, BBC commentator, and critic, Dana Gioia is also the author of, most recently, Interrogations at Noon, a collection of poems that received the American Book Award, and Nosferatu, a libretto. He was recently nominated to be Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts and lives in Santa Rosa, California, with his family.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Graywolf Press; 10 Anv edition (September 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1555973701
  • ISBN-13: 978-1555973704
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #371,711 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The title essay in this book is by far the most important. It's well worth at least checking this book out from a library just to read that first essay. As a poet in an MFA program, I am currently experiencing the severance from the rest of society and alienation from literary criticism that Gioia describes so well. He's right on target. I'm not sure about some of his prescriptions for moving poetry back into public interest (i.e. reading from the work of other poets at one of your own readings), but the fact that he is able to articulate poetry's problems so well should at least get writers thinking about our own solutions. Incidentally, the rest of the essays do decline in quality through the course of the book, but I nevertheless found the final essay on New Formalism worthwhile. I actually didn't know much about the movement other than some mildly disparaging remarks made by various professors during workshop, so Gioia's perspective was refreshing.
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Format: Paperback
The Kirkus review of "Can Poetry Matter?" is pretty much right on target. The opening essays of the book are a necessary (and necessarily condemnatory) critique on the current state of poetry in America. The articles on Kees, Jeffers, etc., are less impressive, and the review reprints which end the book are even less so. Still, the strength of the first few essays outweighs these drawbacks.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a very engrossing, engaging, and insightful discussion of the place of poetry in our culture and of the most important poets writing it. He discusses the effects of the current fast pace of our lives and how that has encouraged the writing of shorter poems with the loss of the enrichment and power of the longer narrative poem. His essay on Ted Kooser, one of my very favorite poets is superb. This is a must read.
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