- Kind: Perfectbound
- Pages: 434
- Language: English
- Date Published: November, 2021
- ISBN 978-1-953252-12-8
If we pause to think about how one does poetry, then the task of critical engagement opens up into myriad reflections on the processes of thought and expression. This is what Burt Kimmelman does in these essays, engaging with the way poetics “unfolds” into being and Being. Critical, metaphysical, and literary, Kimmelman’s informed readings range widely but coherently through modern American poetics, art, and cultural history. —Johanna Drucker
In this focus on poetics, particularly that of twentieth and twenty-first century American poetry, Burt Kimmelman works through its philosophical and aesthetic underpinnings with particular attention to poetry’s materiality. In the course of this effort, he addresses lineages (such as Oppenγ→Schwernerγ→Hellerγ→Finkelstein) and affinities (like Susan Howe with William Bronk via Henry David Thoreau), and reconsiders overlooked poets, such as Bronk, Armand Schwerner and Enid Dame. In so doing, Kimmelman also addresses poetry’s political investments and obligations through attention to the scandals perpetrated by Kenneth Goldsmith and Vanessa Place. —Elisabeth Joyce
Arguments themselves are Kimmelman’s ground. He embraces skepticism. Always questioning, never quite at rest, Kimmelman is a Talmudic critic, and his brilliance depends on his restless mind that will not settle for this solution or that. —Edward Foster
When Louis Zukofsky coined the term “Objectivist” for his 1931 special issue of Poetry Magazine, he was making a distinction (whether he meant to or not) between philosophic and poetic articulations of truth. Philosophy and poetry each posit an ideal world, and yet the world they each conceive of may not be identical. If I were to imagine an ideal world in which language is free of inertia, would the truth philosophy and poetry each promise, in such a world, be the same? It strikes me that Zukofsky sensed language was the source of our inertia, and that philosophy and poetry were cognitively opposed to one another. His assumption was, though, that each questions language’s capacity to provide a full and accurate description of the world. Zukofsky’s distinction reflected this questioning and sought to align the ideal with what he envisioned as an authentic world, while his distinction threw into relief the paradoxical recognition that any hope of arriving at truth, in poetry, appeared to depend on a pure subjectivism—that is, on an ideal.
Burt Kimmelman is a distinguished professor of Humanities at New Jersey Institute of Technology. He has published eleven collections of poetry, seven volumes of criticism, and more than a hundred articles mostly on literature, some on architecture, art, as well as memoir.
He lives in New Jersey with his wife, the writer Diane Simmons.