Lofty Dogmas

Poets on Poetics
Edited by Deborah Brown, Annie Finch, and Maxine Kumin
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Paper: $27.95 (978-1-55728-792-2)
Cloth: $54.95 (978-1-55728-791-5)


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Compiled by three noted poets, this is an eclectic, stimulating, and informed selection of poets’ remarks on poetry spanning eras, ethnicities, and aesthetics. The 102 selections from nearly as many poets reach back to the Greeks and Romans, then draw on Chaucer, Shakespeare, Sidney, and Milton, on to Shelley, Keats, Coleridge, and Poe, then Hopkins, Yeats, Eliot, Rilke, and Pound, concluding with many of our contemporaries, including Hall, Clifton, Mackey, Kunitz, and Rukeyser.

The book is divided into three sections. “Musing” concerns issues of inspiration, “Making,” issues of craft, from diction to meter to persona and voice, and “Mapping,” the role of poetry and the poet. Headnotes at the beginning of each selection provide background information about the poet and commentary on the significance of the selection. There is also a useful appendix with a listing of essays arranged according to more specific topics. As the poets write in their introduction: “This book was intended to deepen readers’ understanding of age-old poetic ideas while at the same time pointing out new directions for thinking about poetry, juxtaposing the familiar and the strange, reconfiguring old boundaries, and shaking up stereotypes.”

“In my long shelf-life as a poet I have often been struck—amused, amazed, even made thoughtful—by the sharply opposing views of poets. . . . The views of the practitioners were what I was after, not those of the detached and theoretical critics. . . . Perhaps this book will invite the gestation of other texts that will fill in the blanks and expatiate further on the desire of poets to write about writing poems.”
—Maxine Kumin, from the Preface

Deborah Brown is a professor of English at the University of New Hampshire at Manchester and author of News from the Grate.

Annie Finch is director of the Stonecoast low-residency MFA program at the University of Southern Maine, and the author of a number of books, including The Body of Poetry, Calendars, Eve, and A Formal Feeling Comes: Poems in Form by Contemporary Women.

Maxine Kumin is one of America’s most distinguished poets. Among her many awards are a Pulitzer Prize and a Ruth E. Lilly Poetry Prize. She is the author of many poetry collections, including Connecting the Dots, Up Country: Poems of New England, and Jack and Other New Poems. She lives in Warner, New Hampshire.

“Once again the brilliant Maxine Kumin and her co-editors have given us exactly what we need, this time an anthology of important works by poets on their craft. We who teach and write, edit and read will use Lofty Dogmas in full knowledge of wisdom in the gathering and delight in the words.”
—Hilda Raz, author of Divine Honors and TRANS, editor of Prairie Schooner

“What a wonderful, valuable, and original book this is! . . . It has my highest recommendation.”
—Leon Stokesbury, author of Autumn Rhythm

Lofty Dogmas will introduce you to an academy of poets talking about their craft. This is a multipurpose book. It’s good for teachers and students.”
—E. Ethelbert Miller, author of How We Sleep on the Nights We Don’t Make Love