The Monkey and the Wrench: Essays into Contemporary Poetics (Akron Series in Comtemporary Poetics) Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2019-04-19 
Review Score: 5 out of 5 star From 0 user ratings

" some smart stuff. some ok stuff " said.

"The Monkey & the Wrench
Essays into Contemporary Poetics
by Mary Biddinger, John Gallaher

“The Monkey & the Wrench: Essays into Contemporary Poetics takes a snapshot of a moving target: the ever-shifting conversation about today’s poetry. The ten essays in this collection offer reflections and insights, practical advice for craft matters, and provocative points of departure for those who read and write poetry. Eclectic collection explores the debate over hybrid aesthetics, confronts the topic of contemporary rhyme, and ventures into the realm of persona and the mystical poem.”

From an artist perspective, I found the following essays most insightful on approach and distinctive voice— Michael Dumanis’ “An Aesthetics of Accumulation: On the Contemporary Litany,” Stephen Burt’s “Cornucopia, or, Contemporary American Rhyme,” and David Kirby’s “A Wilderness of Monkeys.” For additional topics of craft, there are two helpful essays detailing specific techniques— Elisa Gabbert’s “The Moves: Common Maneuvers in Contemporary Poetry” and Joy Katz’s“Goodbye, Goodbye, Goodbye: Notes on the Ends of Poems.”

The other essays tackle slightly more academic issues on a variety of contemporary topics. Robert Archambeau’s “The Discursive Situation of Poetry” speaks to poetry’s ever-smaller slice of the American reading public. Benjamin Paloff’s “I Am One of an Infinite Number of Monkeys Named Shakespeare” addresses the perils of translating poems, humorously comparing it to bad cover bands. Elizabeth Robinson’s “Persona and the Mystical Poem” laments the little space for spiritualism in the tight publishing world. And a series of writers explore “Hybrid Aesthetics and its Discontents.”

I can highly recommend this collection, it is filled with terrific examples that both illustrate the point the essayist is making and also present a smorgasbord of real-time contemporary lit. Well, as real-time as a print book publication cycle can permit. There were many great quotations in the book but my take-away quote (now pinned at the side of my desk) is from the great jazz musician Duke Ellington, “You’ve got to find some way of saying it without saying it.”

Biddinger, Mary and Gallaher, John, (Editors). The Monkey & the Wrench: Essays into Contemporary Poetics, Akron, OH: The University of Akron Press (Akron Series in Contemporary Poetics), 2011.
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May 2019 New Book:

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