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Distortion, Abstraction, and Originality in Contemporary American Poetry


Mark Irwin

Monster: Distortion, Abstraction, and Originality in Contemporary American Poetry argues that memorable and resonant poetry often distorts form, image, concept, and notions of truth and metaphor. Discussing how changes in electronic communication and artificial notions of landscape have impacted form and content in poetry, Monster redefines the idea of what is memorable and original through a broad range of poets including John Ashbery, Anne Carson, Thomas Sayers Ellis, Forrest Gander, Peter Gizzi, Jorie Graham, Robert Hass, Brenda Hillman, Laura Kasischke, W. S. Merwin, Srikanth Reddy, Donald Revell, Mary Ruefle, Arthur Sze, and James Tate.

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Jorie Graham: Kite’s Body & Beyond


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For over forty years Jorie Graham has been producing poems that beautifully question the movement between body and spirit. While other poets may write about desire, Graham creates poems that are in themselves desire, inseparable from the very breath and air of it. If her earlier poems seem more accessible to readers, it is because their content, their sheer energy has not yet broken the seams of their form. And if her later work bears gaps, holes, stitches, it seems only predictable from a poet so obsessed with the distance between body and spirit. Her words seem not so much willed as they are inevitable. In “Tennessee June,” from her first book, oppressive summer heat becomes a metaphor for body and the spirit that must blossom.

Nothing is heavier than its spirit,

nothing more landlocked than the body within it

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