Can Poetry Matter?: Essays on Poetry and American Culture

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Graywolf Press, Oct 1, 1992 - Literary Criticism - 256 pages
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When Dana Gioia's essay "Can Poetry Matter?" appeared in the Atlantic in 1991, it sparked a firestorm of debate and discussion over the role of the poet in today's world - a dialogue in which Gioia participated on radio, television, and in print. One of the more stimulating and provocative figures on our literary horizon, and the author of two widely praised books of poems, Gioia is also an essayist of wide renown. This collection of essays demonstrates that Gioia's talents do not lie in the area of controversy alone. Can Poetry Matter? is an old-fashioned sort of literary book, part literary criticism, part social commentary, and part plain good reading. Addressing such subjects as the poet as businessman and New Formalism as the real avant-garde, it also includes pieces on the life and work of such diverse figures as Robinson Jeffers, Weldon Kees, Robert Bly, and Wallace Stevens. In an age when literary discourse often seems either bleached of any real content or academic to the point of inaccessibility, the essays in Can Poetry Matter? are certain to educate, provoke, and, perhaps most of all, delight readers. They also establish Dana Gioia as one of the foremost cultural observers of his generation.

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Review: Can Poetry Matter?: Essays on Poetry and American Culture

User Review  - D. - Goodreads

This book helped me pinpoint what it is that I don't like about most modern poetry today: it's not written for a general audience; it's written for other academics and MFAs. Read full review

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About the author (1992)

Born in Los Angeles in 1950, Dana Gioia attended Stanford University and did graduate work at Harvard, where he studied with Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Fitzgerald. He left Harvard to attend Stanford Business School. For fifteen years he worked in New York for general Foods (eventually becoming a Vice President) while writing nights and weekends, In 1992 he became a full-time writer. Currently he lives in California. Gioia has published three books of poems, Daily Horoscope (1986), The Gods of Winter (1991), and Interrogations at Noon (2001), which won the American Book Award. He is also the author of Can Poetry Matter? (1992; reprinted 2002). He has edited a dozen anthologies of poetry and fiction. A prolific critic and reviewer, he is also a frequent commentator on American culture for BBC Radio. He recently completed Nosferatu (2001), an opera libretto for composer Alva Henderson.

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