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The Poetry of Weldon Kees: Vanishing as Presence Hardcover – April 12, 2017
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"Weldon Kees’s poetry still leads readers into a strange world, arcane but hyperfamiliar, long after he disappeared in 1955. Even so, scholarship devoted to him is rare―and entire books rarer. Irwin does Kees justice and reveals what is programmatic to this distressed, as opposed to rugged, individualist and his peculiarly American problem of presence and impresence."(James Reidel, author of Vanished Act: The Life and Art of Weldon Kees)
"Weldon Kees is a vital American poet, still too little read. John Irwin’s study goes a long way towards reviving the aesthetic importance of Weldon Kees. Irwin, author of the definitive book on the poetry of Hart Crane, renews Crane’s legacy as he traces Crane’s influence on Kees."(Harold Bloom, author of Falstaff: Give Me Life)
"With its creative intermingling of psychobiography, literary history and criticism, and philosophical rumination, this book is well researched, original, and penetrating. Anchored by a fascinating conceit that illuminates all that follows, The Poetry of Weldon Kees is both erudite and accessible."(Robert Niemi, coauthor of The Bibliography of Weldon Kees)
"Although Kees remained invisible to academics, he exerted a powerful influence on young poets. The huge gap in Kees’s reputation between poets and professors came to symbolize the stark differences in literary taste among creative and theoretical thinkers who often coexist uneasily in the same English department. John T. Irwin, a poet and literary critic who teaches at Johns Hopkins University, has partially closed the gap in a brilliant new study of this neglected author. Most pioneering monographs are cautious in their approach. Irwin’s The Poetry of Weldon Kees: Vanishing as Presence is audacious and provocatively speculative. Declaring Kees ‘the most interesting poet of his generation,’ Irwin frames the author’s life and work against a backdrop of modern literature and philosophy. concise, clearly argued, and free from critical cant, the book is a model of scholarly writing; it also reminds the reader how revelatory literary criticism can be. For Irwin, the stakes are not merely academic; understanding Kees is literally a matter of life or death."(Dana Gioia, Poet and former NEA chair The American Scholar)
About the Author
John T. Irwin is the Decker Professor in the Humanities emeritus at Johns Hopkins University. His books include F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Fiction: "An Almost Theatrical Innocence"; Hart Crane’s Poetry: "Appollinaire lived in Paris, I live in Cleveland, Ohio"; The Mystery to a Solution: Poe, Borges, and the Analytic Detective Story; and Unless the Threat of Death Is Behind Them: Hard-Boiled Fiction and Film Noir.
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