and the Ideal
On Contemporary Poetry
and criticism on the poetry of over fifty contemporary American
and the Ideal
is a powerful collection of essays and essay-reviews which
David Baker wrote and published throughout the 1990s. He thoroughly
discusses the work of more than fifty contemporary poets,
including T. R. Hummer, Miller Williams, Albert Goldbarth,
Jane Kenyon, Galway Kinnell, Charles Simic, Ted Kooser, David
Wojahn, Alice Fulton, Louise Glück, and Charles Wright.
He takes as his models some of the great critical books of
the past three decades, especially Richard Howard's masterpiece,
Alone with America, and Helen Vendler's Part of
Nature, Part of Us, as well as other works by Laurence
Lieberman, Majorie Perloff, Carol Muske, and Mary Kinzie.
its center, Heresy and the Ideal is based on Baker's
sense of Romantic poetics, especially on how contemporary
poets have applied, altered, or rejected certain Romantic
principles. He uses the Romantic trope to measure the tension
between passion and reason and between the problems of literary
transcendence and the obligations of social engagement.
result is a welcome variety of enlightening, practical criticism
devoid of exclusionary jargon and based on persistent attention
to an individual poem or book of poems. Utilizing the essay-review,
Baker considers each poet's purposes and achievements. He
blends the strategies of explanation, analysis, and evaluation,
clarifying each poet's work instead of complaining or condemning.
and the Ideal addresses a wide and diverse range of contemporary
poetry and should take a deserved place both as a critical
introduction to the work of many important poets and as a
work that documents and explores the shape of poetry at the
end of the millennium.
has established himself as one of our most articulate, eclectic,
and probing readers of contemporary poetry."
is professor of English and holds the Thomas B. Fordham Chair
of creative writing at Denison University in Granville, Ohio,
and he is on the faculty of the MFA low-residency program
at Warren Wilson College. He is the poetry editor of the
The Kenyon Review.
$20.00 paper (s), 1-55728-603-5
$40.00 cloth (s), 1-55728-602-7