After a gathering of scholarly intensity of a kind not seen since the Second Vatican Council, my publisher has approved the jacket and catalog copy for The Poet Resigns: Poetry in a Difficult World. Here's what you'll find on the back cover, along with the least unflattering photo of me we can muster:
Robert Archambeau's book, The Poet Resigns: Poetry in a Difficult World, is a fascinating study of what it means to practice the art in a new century. Archambeau is a wise and honest writer in assessing the pitfalls of poetry, and the shifting nature of the poet's role as public intellectual or private mutterer in the larger, noisier culture that has never really privileged poetry to the extent that the myth and history of its privilege purports. His personal touch and winning tone make the book suitable to those who favor a rich and friendly discussion of the social and cultural implications, and possible obligations, of poetry in our age. —Maxine Chernoff
"Archambeau is one of our smartest poetic sociologists, and he tackles the biggest problem facing poetry in our time: the dwindling of its audience and the growing divide between poets and a mainstream literary readership." —Norman Finkelstein, Contemporary Literature
“If you want to see somebody having fun while thinking provocatively about contemporary poetry, try Archambeau: I always do.” —Stephen BurtAnd here's the official description of the book:
What are we really wishing for when we want poetry to have the prominence it had in the past? Why do American poets overwhelmingly identify with the political left? How do poems communicate? Is there an essential link between formal experimentation and political radicalism? What happens when poetic outsiders become academic insiders? Just what makes a poem a poem? If a poet gives up on her art, what reasons could she find for coming back to poetry? These are the large questions animating the essays of The Poet Resigns: Essays on Poetry in a Difficult Time, a book that sets out to survey not only the state of contemporary poetry, but the poet’s relationship to politics, society, and literary criticism.In addition to pursuing these topics, The Poet Resigns peers into the role of the critic and the manifesto, the nature of wit, the poetics of play, and the persistence of modernism, while providing detailed readings of poets as diverse as Harryette Mullen and Yvor Winters, George Oppen and Robert Pinsky, C.S. Giscombe and Pablo Neruda. Behind it all is a sense of poetry not just as an academic area of study, but as a lived experience and a way of understanding. Few books of poetry criticism show such range — yet the core questions remain clear: what is this thing we love and call ‘poetry,’ and what is its consequence in the world?