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Cover for The Poetry of Susan Howe

The Poetry of Susan Howe

History, Theology, Authority (Modern and Contemporary Poetry and Poetics)

W. Montgomery


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Paperback (10/18/2010)


The Poetry of Susan Howe provides a comprehensive survey of the major works of one of America's foremost contemporary poets. The book describes the relationship between poetic form and the various configurations of history, religious thought, and authority in Howe's writing. Will Montgomery argues that her highly opaque texts reflect the resistance that the past offers to contemporary investigation. Addressing lyric, literary history, collage and visual poetics, The Poetry of Susan Howe is a lucid and persuasive investigation of the volatile movements of this extraordinary body of work.

Praise For The Poetry of Susan Howe: History, Theology, Authority (Modern and Contemporary Poetry and Poetics)

"Montgomery provides a comprehensive survey of Howe's poetry, one that makes use of the poet's correspondence, journals, and working notes."--Choice

"In The Poetry of Susan Howe, it is evident that Montgomery has done an amazing amount of research regarding Howe’s career and writings; the pages are peppered with numerous quotations from her writing and from interviews with her. His analysis is also exceptional, making this a book full of insight into a 'difficult' poet."--Rain Taxi Review of Books

“Most readings of Susan Howe’s poetry to date have been insider views: they account for Howe’s themes, images, and structures by lining these up with her own stated views and purposes. Will Montgomery’s may thus be the first to read Howe’s oeuvre critically,  to examine what he sees as the unresolved but productive tension in Howe’s work ‘between a poetry of redress and a poetry of grace.’  To call Howe’s writing (whether ‘poetry’ or ‘prose’) ‘anti-authoritarian’ or ‘anti-canonical,’ for example, is to downplay its complexity and contradiction: hers is an oeuvre that ‘returns poetic language back to a founding and incoercible strangeness.’  Refusing to classify this dazzling and indispensable writer as a ‘language poet,’ ‘feminist poet,’ or ‘pragmatist,’ Montgomery gives us a highly original reading of Howe’s work that is also a study of the larger issues now confronting poetry and poetics.” —Marjorie Perloff, Professor of English Emerita, Stanford University and author of Unoriginal Genius: Poetry by Other Means in the New Century

“This lucid study of the full span of Susan Howe’s poetry draws on impressive, scholarly research into her letters, essays, poetry, and performances to reveal in compelling detail just how much she has embedded her poetry in a poetic tradition stretching back beyond Wallace Stevens to the Elizabethans, as well as engaging with her avant-garde contemporaries. Will Montgomery is a subtle, perceptive, and knowledgeable guide through the forests of allusion, and to the barriers to interpretation, as he traces Howe’s interests in gender and genealogy, the sacred, histories of authority, lyric modes of subjectivity, and the powers of language. The result is a judicious affirmation of the scope and richness of Susan Howe’s work that sends one back to the poems with new insight. The Poetry of Susan Howe is indispensable for anyone interested in recent developments in the modernist poetic tradition.”—Peter Middleton, Professor of English, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, University of Southampton and author of Distant Reading

Palgrave MacMillan, 9780230621978, 219pp.

Publication Date: October 18, 2010

About the Author

WILLIAM MONTGOMERY is Research Fellow in Contemporary Poetry and Poetics at Royal Holloway, University of London, UK.