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A Defense Of Poetry (Pitt Poetry Series) Paperback – September 25, 2002


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Product Details

  • Series: Pitt Poetry Series
  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press; 1 edition (September 25, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0822957868
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822957867
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.7 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,592,183 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“ . . . one of the freshest debuts in years, pushes the boundaries of the weird and inappropriate with intelligence and Joycean revelry in language that reminds us of modern art’s central mission, which is not console, but to provoke.”
--Rain Taxi


“Gudding is happy to be silly. He’s out for fun, and his ‘A Defense of Poetry’ is a kind of spree of paradoes, burlesques and slapstick comedy. . . .This is good fun.”
--Field



"Gabriel Gudding takes parody seriously. A Defense of Poetry pastiches rambunctious riffs, scatological scats, and madcap myth. A modern day Lewis Carroll, Gudding is foremost a comic poet. His zany imagery, ear for the absurd, and wry timing make his stanzas stand up and sparkle."

—Denise Duhamel



"When you read these poems you will go ahh, you will go a little nuts, you will ask yourself who is this hussar who has taken a pint of silver polish and applied it to ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’? And by the relentless bravura of his pen he will answer you, and you will be made happy, you will be made glad, you will be made blinking, for a few more flamelike strokes have been added to the ongoing genesis of American poetry."

—Mary Ruefle

From the Author

"The title poem, a 1500 word prose poem composed of insults, was selected by David Lehman for the Scribner anthology, Great American Prose Poems: From Poe to the Present, published in April 2003. In many ways, if I had to sum it up, the book is a comment on an inability to deal with shame, on the one hand, and pity on the other, and is, in many ways, essentially Menippean satire, containing elements of the grotesque, yes, but also burlesque, lampoon, the mock heroic, and invective. The book contains poetry of both high style and dignified content and low style and tasteless content -- and it does so purposefully. Yet too, high style is then married with tasteless content and vice versa. War, violence, the body, politics, poetry, religion, family, love -- all these are seen in the light of a treatment that is, well ... how shall I put it..."

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Geoffrey Gatza on January 26, 2003
Format: Paperback
Perhaps the only more powerful person than Gabe Gudding in the international banking communities of Wall St., London, and Zurich is Greenspan. When Gabe Gudding decides to make a deal, the Fortune 500 feels the impact as if an earthquake hit. Politicians know not the mess with Gabe because he can break any one of them. However, Gabe's world changes when Robert Lowell enters his life.
Though seven decades younger than him, Gabe covets Robert like he has not desired any person or thing in years. Gabe treats his approach to Robert the way he handled a business deal using any means, including immoral to obtain his wants. He gains his inner secrets that he provides to a poetics professor he arranged for him to see. However, as he obsesses over him, Gabe's world begins to crash around him, leaving him with few options.
Defense of Poetry is an entertaining tale centering on the potential destructiveness of obsession. The story line is more of a character study than a thriller as Humpty Dumpy provides a deep look into Gabe and Robert's thought processes and inner gut emotions. Graphic sex scenes may turn off some readers, but add to the overall feel of the reader being an observer. Though the subplot involving the law and killers subtract from the tale by trying to twist it into a thriller, the obsession which is the main story line brilliantly works leading to a fabulous absorbing look at extreme behavior.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 9, 2003
Format: Paperback
Criticize these poems at all and you risk playing the straight man to a comedian who has already personally queued the laugh-track--this book's neat little trap. Despite the painful self- awareness, the calculated little jokes, the predictability--after about page 5--of a kind of mechanical and heavy-handed irreverence (Michael Moore, is that you?), many of these poems actually are sort of funny. I laughed (twice, I think) as I read this. As terrible and pointless as I think this book is, I don't really blame Gudding--who is a good writer, in a way--and whose problem is really that he has the skills, the education and the desire to write but nothing to write about and no ability or vision which would allow him to transcend the limitations of the imprint of his times. He's got all the correct attitudes--a hip irreverence, a leftist and reflexive agnosticism about any and all topics. He's basically the a victim of the ennui that afflicts almost all of his generation (with the exception of a few like Nick Flynn who actually subject themselves to the process of becoming poets--a discipline that somebody like Gudding would only find embarrassing, and also too much work). Lurking in Gudding's jokes are a bunch of boring academic lessons about what poetry is supposedly "for" now that it's not "for" what it used to be "for"---an obsession these days of a great many mediocre young poets who've spent their whole lives attending or teaching school. At least Gudding, unlike many of his contemporaries, can occasionally be funny. It's too bad, though, that this is how little we ask of our poets now that they ask so little of themselves.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 6, 2003
Format: Paperback
When I buy a joke book, I want the jokes to be funny and these ones are. So this is a good joke book. But there's a point in a joke sometimes (and if you've ever seen a Jim Carrey movie, you'll know what I'm talking about) when you realize that the clown suddenly wants to be taken seriously, that he has a "serious message" and a heart dripping treacle. I find this disgusting. Very displeasing to both the eyes and the nose. It makes me want to take a shower. If Gudding wants to make jokes--fine, he's good at it. His poems are wonderfully naughty bathroom-stall graffiti. When he (or worse, readers) start to make claims for their importance as either thinking or art, then the joke's on them but nobody's laughing anymore. At this point I am tremendously bored by both these poems and their dorky Star-Trek grad school apologists. The indignant comparisons of academic credentials by previous posters--now that's funny.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Robert Dobei on October 29, 2002
Format: Paperback
The title poem, "A Defense of Poetry," is one of the funniest, saddest, strangest and most inspired poems I have ever read. (Indeed, I see from the acknowledgements page that the poem is forthcoming in a Scribner anthology entitled _Great American Prose Poems: From Poe to the Present_). The irreverence of many of the poems in the book is justified -- or excused -- by the sheer verbal brilliance and imaginative ingenuity of this poet. This is a highly learned writer. The book is just an imaginative tour de force. It reminds me of Stevens' _Harmonium_. The poems in this book are incredibly varied: they range from the formal and crafted to an almost avant-garde (and even whacked or disturbed) kind of poem. But each poem is marked by a peculiar mixture of intelligence, gravity, comedy, and emotion that I have never seen before. This book is going to change how we think about poetry -- and I look forward to more from this odd, new, and weirdly brilliant poet. -- Robert Dobei
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 23, 2003
Format: Paperback
This is the funniest book of poems I've ever read, but it's much more than that. It's a Rubicon moment. Will poetry continue to be "ruled with the scepter of the dumb, the deaf, and the creepy," as Kenneth Koch once wrote, or is it time again to "Unscrew the locks from the doors! Unscrew the doors themselves from their jambs!" (Walt Whitman). If you want reassuring pablum, read Phil Levine and others so beloved by the timorous part-time teaching assistant from New Jersey. If you want the top of your head taken off, though, you want "A Defense of Poetry."
This book made me laugh so hard that my husband demanded I read great hunks of it aloud. Which I did, with pleasure, because Gabriel Gudding has a sensational ear. He has timing to die for. And the stuff he's going after -- rage, aggression, terror, stupidity -- is big game. I find it hard to overstate the sorts of claims that this book has made on my attention. In one reading, it became _the_ book I will look to as a touchstone and as crucial sustenance in an age of bombast and bushwhackery.
This is an essential book for any reader ready to dispense with the literary equivalent of Sominex in favor of expanding his or her sense of the possibilities for poetry. I commend Gabriel Gudding (whom I have never met) for writing it, and I greet him at the beginning of a brilliant career.
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