Monday, August 15, 2011

The Monkey, The Wrench, The Salt Companion

My first book, published back in 1998, was Word Play Place, a collection of essays I edited about the poetry of John Matthias.  I'm happy to report a new book of essays, picking up where Word Play Place left off, is about to appear: The Salt Companion to John Matthias, edited by Joe Francis Doerr.  Contributors include Gerald Bruns, Keith Tuma, Linda Kinnahan, Mark Scroggins, Joyelle McSweeney,  Peter Robinson, Christopher Merrill, Herb Leibowitz, John Peck, John Wilkinson, and others, including the present humble blogger.  Here is what the Salt website has to say about the book:

"The years 1995-2010 were particularly fertile for John Matthias. In that time, he published five critically acclaimed books of poetry, two pamphlets, two collaborations (a translation and an anthology); and some two dozen poems in various international print and online journals. With such additions to an already remarkable bibliography, Matthias, long-time co-editor of the Notre Dame Review, has confirmed his status as a major American poet — albeit one that many anthologists, critics, and readers tend to overlook. His poetic modes are wide-ranging: the anecdotal, the wryly subversive, and the experimental find purchase in the familial, the historical, and the lyrical. Working in a variety of styles unified by their sources in modernism, Matthias engages the arts, politics, and (primarily) Western culture while acknowledging a past that continues to unfold in the present. In this book, eighteen fine contemporary writers working in essay, interview, and poetic form offer penetrating insight into Matthias’ work — work that is sometimes allusive and difficult, sometimes transparent and clear. This volume begins where the previous selection of essays on Matthias’s work, Robert Archambeau’sWord Play Place, left off in 1998. It will be an invaluable companion to the poetry of an important American author."

In other news, Choice has reviewed another book to which I contributed, The Monkey and the Wrench: Essays into Contemporary Poetics, edited by Mary Biddinger and John Gallaher.  Here's what the reviewer had to say:

"…Biddinger and Gallaher have compiled an exceptionally fine sampling of reflections on contemporary American poetry. The first selections are playful, pithy examinations of noteworthy trends; the last section is devoted to ongoing debate in the field on attempts to classify American poets and their work into distinct schools—a debate to some degree launched in Cole Swenson's "American Hybrid: A Norton Anthology of New Poetry"… Less experienced audiences, including lay readers, will find the essays refreshingly clear and the threads of discussion easy to follow, and they will appreciate the wealth of illustrations and suggested further reading. At the same time, practicing poets and instructors in MFA programs will find the critique of such programs invaluable. Delightful in terms of style, broad and perceptive in subject and treatment, this book is a must-read for those interested in writing poetry. Though not exhaustive in coverage, it represents the current conversations of some of the most prominent writers and critics publishing today."

In still other news, I'll be speaking at the conference of the Association of Literary Scholars, Critics, and Writers (ALSCW) in Boston this October.  The full schedule is up online.  The seminar with which I am involved will take place at 9:30 on the morning of October 16th.