Strike Anywhere: Essays, Reviews & Other Arsons by Michael ListaStrike Anywhere: Essays, Reviews & Other Arsons by Michael Lista

Strike Anywhere: Essays, Reviews & Other Arsons

byMichael Lista

Paperback | June 30, 2016

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As Michael Lista is quick to point out, being a critic can be dangerous for your career. In his collection of essays, Strike Anywhere, he bravely takes on the inherently contradictory nature of artistic expression and tackles the moral and artistic implications of boob tube blockbusters, all while attempting to answer the age-old question: Why does poetry suck?

Michael Lista is an acclaimed poet, editor, critic, and non-fiction writer. He is the author of two collections of poetry: Bloom (House of Anansi, 2010) and The Scarborough (Signal Editions, 2014). He served as poetry editor of The Walrus and as poetry columnist for The National Post. His non-fiction appears in The Atlantic, Slate, The...
Title:Strike Anywhere: Essays, Reviews & Other ArsonsFormat:PaperbackDimensions:224 pages, 9 × 5 × 0.8 inPublished:June 30, 2016Publisher:Porcupine's QuillLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0889843929

ISBN - 13:9780889843929

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Read from the Book

The Imitation GameSometime after Virgil aped Homer but before Kenneth Goldsmith nicked the New York Times, poets began robbing one another. It's no surprise: both strands of the Western tradition's double helix-the Hellenic and the Hebraic-begin with thefts, the Greeks absconding with Helen, and Eve filching the fruit. According to Harold Bloom, even Genesis isn't sui-generis, having pilfered all its best bits from an earlier ur-text called The Book of J. As Beckett-or was it Andy Warhol-first said: "There's nothing new under the sun." When the second poet stole from the very first, he was a larcenist; when the third robbed the first two, he was a traditionalist. Ever since, the relationship between a poet and her predecessors has been described as influence-a fraught intellectual and stylistic exchange by which the old gives birth to the new. Influence's most salient feature, as T.S. Eliot pointed out in "Tradition and the Individual Talent," is that it is anything but accidental. A literary inheritance may be many things, but it isn't heritable. Safes don't crack and divest themselves; it takes talent, discipline, and hard work to steal what someone else earned fair and square. The critic who has written most obsessively about how and why poets influence one another is Harold Bloom. In The Anxiety of Influence, and its follow-up, A Map of Misreading, Bloom proposes a kind of Freudian theory of influence whereby poets enter into an agon, or struggle, with their forbearers. There comes a moment that he calls the "dialectic of influence," when the young poet realizes that poetry is both outside of her-in the library, in the canon-and nascent inside of her. If she's a "strong poet," she'll also realize that nearly all she wants to say has been said already, and well. But her ambition is what makes her strong, and so she will "misread" her most august predecessors, detecting an omission that only she is equipped to redress: herself. In Bloom's theory of influence, the young poet reads the greats with a simultaneous affinity and anxiety. The line that sings also stings, an agonizing reminder of the newcomer's belatedness. Nevertheless, great poets breed great poets, and you can trace our English lineage like a line of bad blood. Milton comes from Virgil and Spenser, but especially Shakespeare; Keats from Shakespeare and Milton; Tennyson from Keats, etc. In A Map of Misreading Bloom charts the agon of inheritance as far as A.R. Ammons and John Ashbery, in whose prolix digressiveness Bloom detects an almost crippling belatedness commensurate with our own late hour. By focusing on major careers, he takes for granted that poetry's trajectory is charted by great poets. But in the explosive proliferation of MFA programs since A Map of Misreading was published forty years ago, programs that graduate tens of thousands of writers every year, is that still how influence works? Who do poets want to write like today, and why?[Continued in Strike Anywhere . . .]

Editorial Reviews

`As the title of this lively collection of literary essays and reviews, mostly on Canadian poets and poetry, indicates, Michael Lista isn't afraid to group himself in with the bomb-throwers and arsonists, but to limit his critical outlook to any one label is misleading. Lista isn't a "negative" critic so much as a passionate one, enthusiastic in both his likes and dislikes.`This is essential, since book reviews and most literary essays are by their nature ephemeral and it's only their passion, personality and intelligence that makes the best of them worth revisiting. Lista's writing has all of these qualities, delivered in a confident, categorical voice that speaks in absolutes but which never comes across as pompous or affected. Instead, his observations are grounded in earthy, humorous language and anecdotes (his trip to the Dante house museum in Florence being a good example). If there's a fault it's that the pieces here are so short we never get to see Lista show what he can do beyond quick takes.' - Alex Good - Toronto Star