Good news! My book The Poet Resigns: Poetry in a Difficult World is more available than ever — if you have access to Project Muse through, say, your local university library's site, you can download the whole thing, or any individual chapters, as free pdfs. Also, you can get the print version on sale at Amazon for about thirteen bucks. Since the thing weighs in at 323 pages, you can't afford not to get your hands on it!
What's in the thing, you ask? Here's the jacket copy listing the questions the book asks:
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 also 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, Pablo Neruda and C.S. Giscombe. Behind it all is a sense of poetry not just as an academic area of study, but also 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?Those of you looking to download just a chapter or two might want to have a look at an earlier post in which I wrote a sentence or two on each of them.
Project Muse, if you're lucky enough to have access to it, is a great source not just for scholarly articles, but for books. You can also download my 2010 book Laureates and Heretics: Six Careers in American Poetry there (or buy an actual book for eighteen bucks).
And, since I'm in full-on self promotion mode, I might also mention that you can now download Slight Return: Remix and Ekphrasis, one of my collections of poems, for free too — even if you don't have Project Muse. Among other things, it includes the prose poem sequence "The Kafka Sutra," with amazing illustrations by printmaker Sarah Conner.