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What Are Poets For?: An Anthropology of Contemporary Poetry and Poetics by Gerald L. Bruns is now available from the Contemporary North American Poetry Series of the University of Iowa Press.
The purpose of the book is to illuminate a strange poetic landscape, spotlighting and describing such oddities as they appear, anomalies that most contemporary poetry criticism ignores.
What Are Poets For? explores typographical experiments that distribute letters randomly across a printed page, sound tracks made of vocal noises, and holographic poems that recompose themselves as one travels through their digital space. Bruns surveys one-word poems, found texts, and book-length assemblies of disconnected phrases; he even includes descriptions of poems that no one could possibly write, but which are no less interesting (or no less poetic) for all of that.
Marjorie Perloff, the author of Unoriginal Genius, commented, “Bruns’ readings are everywhere animated by his profound learning and his knowledge of the larger poetic tradition. For anyone interested in the avant garde today, What Are Poets For? is an indispensable book.”
Bruns is the William P. and Hazel B. White Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Notre Dame. A prolific author, he has also been honored with two Guggenheim fellowships and has been a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, and the Stanford Humanities Center. In 2008 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
The Contemporary North American Poetry series documents, analyzes, and seeks to sustain the many exciting and diverse developments in North American poetry since the 1950s by publishing critical studies of recent poetry, collections of essays on poetics, and biographies of individual poets or groups of poets as well as correspondence and memoirs. Its aim is to represent a variety of contemporary aesthetics and to illuminate ongoing debates about the material forms and contexts of recent poetry.
The book is available at bookstores or from the UI Press, 800-621-2736 or www.uiowapress.org.