Questions of Possibility: Contemporary Poetry and Poetic Form

Paperback | August 29, 2006

byDavid Caplan

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Questions of Possibility examines the particular forms that contemporary American poets favor and those they neglect. The poets' choices reveal both their ambitions and their limitations, the new possibilities they discover and the traditions they find unimaginable. By means of close attention to the sestina, ghazal, love sonnet, ballad, and heroic couplet, this study advances a new understanding of contemporary American poetry. Rather than pitting "closed" verse against "open" and "traditional" poetry against "experimental," Questions of Possibility exploreshow poets associated with different movements inspire and inform each other's work. Discussing a range of authors, from Charles Bernstein, Derek Walcott, and Marilyn Hacker to Agha Shahid Ali, David Caplan treats these poets as contemporaries who share the language, not as partisans assigned torival camps. The most interesting contemporary poetry crosses the boundaries that literary criticism draws, synthesizing diverse influences and establishing surprising affinities. In a series of lively readings, Caplan charts the diverse characteristics and accomplishments of modern poetry, from thegay and lesbian love sonnet to the currently popular sestina.

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Questions of Possibility examines the particular forms that contemporary American poets favor and those they neglect. The poets' choices reveal both their ambitions and their limitations, the new possibilities they discover and the traditions they find unimaginable. By means of close attention to the sestina, ghazal, love sonnet, ball...

David Caplan is Assistant Professor of English at Ohio Wesleyan University.
Format:PaperbackDimensions:192 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 0.68 inPublished:August 29, 2006Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195313259

ISBN - 13:9780195313253

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"Caplan admirably steers a thoroughly personable course between the opposing parties he wants to unite--formalists and free-versers, poets and academics, those for and against the political dimensions of poetic craft--and his remarkably able intervention in all three of the antagonisms is verywelcome. The book is inventive and energetic, and a delight when it aims its polemical cannons at polemicits and lazy readers. Caplan offers in place of standard antagonisms his own generous enthusiasm; indeed, his arguments might instruct best when they set, as they consistently do, such a fineexample for the rest of us."--Christopher Matthews, South Atlantic Review