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New Collected Poems (with CD) Paperback – November 17, 2008

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 425 pages
  • Publisher: New Directions (November 17, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811218058
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811218054
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #477,957 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A Modernist who was part of the Objectivist group that included Charles Reznikoff, Louis Zukofsky and Carl Rakosi, George Oppen (1908-1984) won a Pulitzer Prize in 1969 for his masterpiece, Of Being Numerous. New Collected Poems gathers that work, along with some missing from the 1975 Collected. Edited by poet Michael Davidson, it includes Primitive (the last volume Oppen published, in 1978) as well as previously unpublished work. Admirers of Oppen's foundational volumes should be very pleased with this update.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


“A first rate edition of Oppen's poetry. His poetry serves as a model of modernist ethics as well as aesthetics.” (William Doreski - Harvard Review)

“Oppen’s respect for the act of making, no matter how small, is at every moment palpable, and it infuses his work with sweetness that makes difficulty feel like life’s reward.” (James Longenbach - The Yale Review)

“Valuable. Davidson's selection...is excellent: his choice of material is judicious and representative, and thankfully accompanied by enlightening explanatory notes.” (Eric Hoffman - Home Planet News)

“He again and again earns the reader's admiration, again and again directs us towards unexpected linguistic and sensory insights.” (Marta Figlerowicz - The Harvard Book Review)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Nathan Wirth on November 26, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This volume constitutes the most complete collection of Oppen's work to date-- many poems of which have not been anthologized until now. The centerpiece of the collection is Oppen's wonderful book-length poem-- Of Being Numerous. This Pulitzer-prize-winning poem is concerned with the dilemma of seeing the world through the eyes of solitude versus seeing the world through the eyes of what it is to be of the numerous. Throughout the poem's forty sections the reader is introduced to the meaning of what it is to be "of being numerous," warned about the shipwreck of isolation, thrust into the madness of war with all of its atrocities, reminded of the limits of language, introduced to clarity, and finally called upon to realize the necessity for compassion. A heartily recommended read!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Paul A. Baker on November 30, 2008
Format: Paperback
In this re-edited version of Oppen's 1975 Collected Poems, editor Michael Davidson adds 60 previously unpublished poems, most from the 1950s through the 1970s.

The previously unpublished poems come from Oppen's manuscripts and working papers. Davidson says that, although this edition may include a bit more of the unpolished material than Oppen would have liked, he justifies these inclusions by considering the way Oppen composed; his "tendency to embed poems in the midst of a kind of textual rubble."

So we benefit from Davidson's archaeological digs. He worked to respect the integrity of Oppen's compositional standards by including "poems that he worked on over a period of time, or which elucidate other published poems." Sixty pages of notes provide additional substance and texture to this edition.
In these readings recorded in San Francisco, New York, and London, one hears a voice that is disillusioned, perhaps tired, but committed to grappling with personal and collective experience through art. In fact, Davidson says his editorial decisions were inspired in part by Oppen's remark that poems are forged out of social and familial forces beyond the aesthetic: He was shaped by working as a manual laborer, raising a family, the Depression, the threat of Fascism, and Communist Party activism.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By R. DelParto VINE VOICE on March 22, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
George Oppen's New Collected Poems is an updated version of Oppens' 1979 Collected Poems. The Pulitzer Prize poet takes the reader through a journey of his life. The poems have a distinct trait, which are based on Oppen's treaded and somewhat nomadic life that he lived along with his wife, Mary. The Introduction of the book offers tidbits of an adventurous and well-travelled man as well as his controversial political leanings with communism and anti-fascism. Despite that fact, Oppen wrote each poem with a sense of time and place, and one may easily identify where he was geographically, New York, Mexico, or California and what he was writing about. In essence, he writes with the world in mind and its many intricacies.

The most distinctive aspect of his poems is his reference to the war experience. As a veteran of World War II, Oppen reflects on the lasting affect the theatre of war had on him as well as the fury of the Cold War during the 1950s. He displays this in poems that are included in The Materials collection. In addition, Oppen offers a storm of socially political poems which may be the capstone of New Collected Poems. Oppen's 40 section, 1969 prize winning book, Of Being Numerous, provides his voice of opposition to the war in Vietnam; the illustrious distinction for his work allowed wider audience to become exposed it. This collection also includes Oppen's last published book, Primitive and unpublished poems. The last portion of the book provides a run down and analysis of each collection.

New Collected Poems offers much to be discussed. However, for every reader that obtains a copy, there will always be a different perspectives to Oppen's work even if you aren't a poetic theorist.
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By Mark Statman on January 23, 2015
Format: Paperback
This is a wonderful collection of this significant poet. Read it slowly. None of the poems are that easy. They are gritty, elegant, smart. The audio a plus.
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