The Fate of Difficulty in the Poetry of Our Time

E-book – $39.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-3607-6

Cloth Text – $99.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-3606-9

Paper Text – $39.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-3605-2
Publication Date
October 2017
Page Count
408 pages
Trim Size
6 x 9

The Fate of Difficulty in the Poetry of Our Time

Edited by Charles Altieri and Nicholas D. Nace

Part anthology, part essay collection, The Fate of Difficulty in the Poetry of Our Time offers original readings of poems composed in this century—poems that are challenging to follow, challenging to understand, challenging to discuss, and challenging to enjoy. Difficult poetry of the past relied on allusion, syntactic complexity, free association, and strange juxtapositions. The new poetry breaks with the old in its stunning variety, its questioning of inherited values, labels, and narratives, its multilingualism, its origin in and production of unnamed affects, and its coherence around critical and social theorists as much as other poets.

The essays in this volume include poets writing on the works of a younger generation (Lyn Hejinian on Paolo Javier, Bob Perelman on Rachel Zolf, Roberto Tejada on Rosa Alcalá), influential writers addressing the work of peers (Ben Lerner on Maggie Nelson, Michael W. Clune on Aaron Kunin), critics making imaginative leaps to encompass challenging work (Brian M. Reed on Sherwin Bitsui, Siobhan Philips on Juliana Spahr), and younger scholars coming to terms with poets who continue to govern new poetic experimentation (Joseph Jeon on Myung Mi Kim, Lytle Shaw on Lisa Robertson).

In pairings that are both intuitive (Marjorie Perloff on Craig Dworkin) and unexpected (Langdon Hammer on Srikanth Reddy), The Fate of Difficulty in the Poetry of Our Time illuminates the myriad pathways and strategies for exploring the fascinating world of difficult poetry.
About the Author

CHARLES ALTIERI is a professor and the Rachael Anderson Stageberg Endowed Chair of English at the University of California, Berkeley.

NICHOLAS D. NACE is a visiting assistant professor of rhetoric at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia.

"Truly more than the sum of its parts, this exceptionally well-edited collection offers a smart and imaginative concept that not only sheds important light on the individual poems and poets addressed, but opens up the entire field of contemporary poetics by putting critical pressure on the concept of ‘difficulty.’" —Craig Dworkin, author of Reading the Illegible and No Medium