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The Sighted Singer: Two Works on Poetry for Readers and Writers Paperback – December 1, 1991

4.4 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

In the ideal writing program where criticism and creative writing imply, sustain, and nourish one another, Allen Grossman's ' Summa Lyrica' would be required reading.

(Alan Shapiro)

From the Back Cover

During a week in January 1981, poets Allen Grossman and Mark Halliday met for a series of conversations exploring "the meanings for us as poets arising from the difference between us-- differences of generation and education as well as of temperament and poetic style." The result was "Against Our Vanishing", which Charles Altieri called " the best in contemporary poetic thinking."

"The Sighted Singer: Two Works on Poetry for Readers and Writers" makes available a revised and significantly expanded version of "Against Our Vanishing" and includes Grossman's recent treatise "Summa Lyrica: A Primer of the Commonplaces in the Speculative Poetics". This combined edition provides a sophisticated yet accessible discussion-- across generations-- of "the fundamental discourse of poetic structure". For students and teachers, for writers and readers, "The Sighted Singer" is a splendid introduction to both the tradition of poetry and its contemporary practice.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press; Revised & enlarged edition (December 1, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801842433
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801842436
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #320,852 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is an unusual but wonderful book for writers. Imagine a slightly more mystical Wittgenstein retreated to Galway Ireland and returned with a manuscript on the subjet of poetry: The Sighted Singer could be that manuscript.One some level this analogy is entirely superficial: the numbered section and paragraph organization is a direct descendent of Wittgenstein's Tractatus. But the Sighted Singer shares much more with the Tractatus than that: poetic thinking so rigorous it becomes almost mystical, a ladder one must pull up after one has climbed up it.Whether the author's poetics are "right" or "true" is almost inconsequential. His propositions are so challenging and so thought-provoking that the mere experience of reading this book is valuable.If you are a writer or serious reader of poetry, this book will make you more serious about the task at hand in either endeavor.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A poetic "Dinner with Andre" delight. An engrossing engagement between two accomplished poets, who are articulate, philosophically sophisticated, and thoughtful in their views of poetic practice.

Allen Grossman is a "canoneer" - an acolyte of the belief in a teleological structure as a basis for the validity of conferring the labels "good", or "bad", on a poem. He expresses and defends a process involving careful study, over a long period, of poems, and the poets who are currently considered to be the "Greats" of poetry. That study, according to Grossman enables a reader to grasp the elusive paradigm of the making of the "Greats", a definition of and conflation of "Truth" and "Good" and "Beauty".

Mark Halliday's is a "deontological" approach to the evaluation of a poem, and poetic practice. His belief in the validity of a reader's response to a poem as paramount, is articulate, responsive and expertly contrasted to that of Grossman's structured position. Halliday is, like Grossman, positive and informed of the history and academic practice of poetry. He looks to the individual, the nature of the individual's emotional response to a poem as the source of "Worth" of a poem. He eschews the notions of "Great", "Success", or the canonization of dead, white, males.

Poetically, we are at a dinner party with Aristotle and Plato, or rather their heirs, Grossman and Halliday. This book is an enormously fun read, written with a "John McPhee" clarity, helpful for poets, philosophers, and artists who would grasp the meaning of tradition, and the making of tradition, and how it has been bred into our bones.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Incomparable. Invaluable. The deepest, richest thinking I know on the subject of why poems and poetry matter to individuals, society, culture.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There is very little worthwhile that is written about poetry. Exceptions to this include everything Allen Grossman has ever said or done. He offers us hope for the future life of poetry. If you are a serious poet (I doubt that you are-there are only a handful on our planet right now, as far as I can tell), if you are AT ALL serious you should read this book.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is presented as a conversation between two poets, but really it's an excuse for Allen Grossman to talk. His tone is condescending and patronizing toward both Halliday and the reader, which instantly makes you dislike the book. Beyond that, the insights that are in the book are vague, not well argued/supported and very abstract. This book does not open you to thinking about poetry, but rather attempts to lecture you on a single viewpoint that's incomprehensible. Save your money and read poets that actually matter.
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