Announcements

New & Forthcoming Publications

  •  Wallace Stevens in Context, edited by Glen MacLeod (Cambridge University Press, 2017).

Wallace Stevens is generally considered one of the great twentieth-century American poets. Yet his original, sometimes highly abstract poetry can make him seem difficult and unapproachable to many readers. This book aims to overcome that difficulty by providing the contexts that clarify and explain Stevens’s ways of thinking and feeling. In thirty-six short essays, an international team of distinguished scholars provides a comprehensive overview of Stevens’s life and the world of his poetry. Individual chapters relate Stevens to such important contexts as the large Western movements of romanticism and modernism; particular American and European philosophical traditions; contemporary and later poets; the professional realms of law and insurance; the parallel art forms of painting, music, and theater; his publication history, critical reception, and international reputation. Other chapters address topics of current interest like war, politics, religion, race and the feminine. Informed by the latest developments in the field, but written in clear, jargon-free prose, Wallace Stevens in Context is an indispensable introduction to this great modern poet.

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  • Poetry and Poetics after Wallace Stevens, edited by Bart Eeckhout and Lisa Goldfarb (Bloomsbury, 2016).

“As the figure of Wallace Stevens (1879-1955) becomes so entrenched in the Modernist canon that he serves as a major reference point for poets and critics alike, the time has come to investigate poetry and poetics after him. The ambiguity of the preposition is intentional: while after may refer neutrally to chronological sequence, it also implies ways of aesthetically modeling poetry on a predecessor. Likewise, the general heading of poetry and poetics allows the sixteen contributors to this volume to range far and wide in terms of poetics (from postwar formalists to poets associated with various strands of Postmodernism, Language poetry, even Confessional poetry), ethnic identities (with a diverse selection of poets of color), nationalities (including the Irish Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney and several English poets), or language (sidestepping into French and Czech poetry).

Besides offering a rich harvest of concrete case studies, Poetry and Poetics after Wallace Stevens also reconsiders possibilities for talking about poetic influence. How can we define and refine the ways in which we establish links between earlier and later poems? At what level of abstraction do such links exist? What have we learned from debates about competing poetic eras and traditions? How is our understanding of an older writer reshaped by engaging with later ones? And what are we perhaps not paying attention to-aesthetically, but also politically, historically, thematically-when we relate contemporary poetry to someone as idiosyncratic as Stevens?”

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  • Paul Mariani, The Whole Harmonium: The Life of Wallace Stevens (Simon & Schuster, April 2016).

“Wallace Stevens lived a richly imaginative life that found expression in his poetry. His philosophical questioning, spiritual depth, and brilliantly inventive use of language would be profound influences on poets as diverse as William Carlos Williams, Hart Crane, Elizabeth Bishop, and John Ashbery. The Whole Harmonium presents Stevens within the living context of his times, as well as the creator of a poetry which has had a profound and lasting impact on the modern imagination itself.

Stevens established his career as an executive even as he wrote his poetry, becoming a vice president with an insurance company in Hartford, Connecticut. His first and most influential book, Harmonium, was not published until he was forty-four years old. In these poems, Stevens drew on his interest in and understanding of modernism. Over time he became acquainted with the most accomplished of his contemporaries, Robert Frost and William Carlos Williams among them, but his personal style remained unique. He endured an increasingly unhappy marriage, losing himself by writing poetry in his study. Yet he had a witty, comic, and Dionysian side to his personality, including long fishing (and drinking) trips to Florida with his pals and a fascination with the sun-drenched tropics.

People generally know two things about Wallace Stevens: that he is a “difficult” poet and that he was an insurance executive for most of his life. Stevens may be challenging to understand, but he is also greatly rewarding to read. Now, sixty years after Stevens’s death, biographer and poet Paul Mariani shows how over the course of his life, Stevens sought out the ineffable and spiritual in human existence in his search for the sublime.”

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