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"Orpheus in the Bronx not only extols the freedom language affords us; it embodies that freedom, enacting poetry's greatest gift---the power to recognize ourselves as something other than what we are. These bracing arguments were written by a poet who sings." ---James Longenbach A highly acute writer, scholar, editor, and critic, Reginald Shepherd brings to his work the sens "Orpheus in the Bronx not only extols the freedom language affords us; it embodies that freedom, enacting poetry's greatest gift---the power to recognize ourselves as something other than what we are. These bracing arguments were written by a poet who sings." ---James Longenbach A highly acute writer, scholar, editor, and critic, Reginald Shepherd brings to his work the sensibilities of a classicist and a contemporary theorist, an inheritor of the American high modernist canon, and a poet drawing and playing on popular culture, while simultaneously venturing into formal experimentation. In the essays collected here, Shepherd offers probing meditations unified by a "resolute defense of poetry's autonomy, and a celebration of the liberatory and utopian possibilities such autonomy offers." Among the pieces included are an eloquent autobiographical essay setting out in the frankest terms the vicissitudes of a Bronx ghetto childhood; the escape offered by books and "gifted" status preserved by maternal determination; early loss and the equivalent of exile; and the formation of the writer's vocation. With the same frankness that he brings to autobiography, Shepherd also sets out his reasons for rejecting "identity politics" in poetry as an unnecessary trammeling of literary imagination. His study of the "urban pastoral," from Baudelaire through Eliot, Crane, and Gwendolyn Brooks, to Shepherd's own work, provides a fresh view of the place of urban landscape in American poetry. Throughout his essays---as in his poetry---Shepherd juxtaposes unabashed lyricism, historical awareness, and in-your-face contemporaneity, bristling with intelligence. A volume in the Poets on Poetry series, which collects critical works by contemporary poets, gathering together the articles, interviews, and book reviews by which they have articulated the poetics of a new generation.


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"Orpheus in the Bronx not only extols the freedom language affords us; it embodies that freedom, enacting poetry's greatest gift---the power to recognize ourselves as something other than what we are. These bracing arguments were written by a poet who sings." ---James Longenbach A highly acute writer, scholar, editor, and critic, Reginald Shepherd brings to his work the sens "Orpheus in the Bronx not only extols the freedom language affords us; it embodies that freedom, enacting poetry's greatest gift---the power to recognize ourselves as something other than what we are. These bracing arguments were written by a poet who sings." ---James Longenbach A highly acute writer, scholar, editor, and critic, Reginald Shepherd brings to his work the sensibilities of a classicist and a contemporary theorist, an inheritor of the American high modernist canon, and a poet drawing and playing on popular culture, while simultaneously venturing into formal experimentation. In the essays collected here, Shepherd offers probing meditations unified by a "resolute defense of poetry's autonomy, and a celebration of the liberatory and utopian possibilities such autonomy offers." Among the pieces included are an eloquent autobiographical essay setting out in the frankest terms the vicissitudes of a Bronx ghetto childhood; the escape offered by books and "gifted" status preserved by maternal determination; early loss and the equivalent of exile; and the formation of the writer's vocation. With the same frankness that he brings to autobiography, Shepherd also sets out his reasons for rejecting "identity politics" in poetry as an unnecessary trammeling of literary imagination. His study of the "urban pastoral," from Baudelaire through Eliot, Crane, and Gwendolyn Brooks, to Shepherd's own work, provides a fresh view of the place of urban landscape in American poetry. Throughout his essays---as in his poetry---Shepherd juxtaposes unabashed lyricism, historical awareness, and in-your-face contemporaneity, bristling with intelligence. A volume in the Poets on Poetry series, which collects critical works by contemporary poets, gathering together the articles, interviews, and book reviews by which they have articulated the poetics of a new generation.

44 review for Orpheus in the Bronx: Essays on Identity, Politics, and the Freedom of Poetry

  1. 5 out of 5

    Julene

    This is an excellent book to study. it starts with the full essay that is an elaboration on the essay published in Poets & Writers sometime in the past two year. That was the article that brought me to his writing. It is what I term a 'killer' essay about his life experience. This book covers a wide range of essays that show the depth and breath of his knowledge base in poetry. Losing him so young is sad. The book has four sections: Portrait of the Artist, containing the above mentioned article, This is an excellent book to study. it starts with the full essay that is an elaboration on the essay published in Poets & Writers sometime in the past two year. That was the article that brought me to his writing. It is what I term a 'killer' essay about his life experience. This book covers a wide range of essays that show the depth and breath of his knowledge base in poetry. Losing him so young is sad. The book has four sections: Portrait of the Artist, containing the above mentioned article, Manifestos of a Sort, Readings, and A Poetics. In the Readings section in a chapter on Four Gay Poets he does an analysis of the work of Aaron Shurin, Tim Dlugos, Donald Britton, and D.A. Powell. Three of these authors were living with AIDS, and the one not living with AIDS wrote an early book on the epidemic that is now out of print: Unbound by Aaron Shurin. Both Tim Dlugos (who died in 1990) and D.A. Powell (alive) have written about their experience of living with AIDS. I am always looking for writers who have been willing to offer their experiences to the public in this way and I knew of D.A. Powell's work but not the other two, so I will now find their books to read like I did by reading Tory Dent's work. Shepherd quotes all the main poets such as Keats, Stevens, Yates, he uses the philosophers, Plato, Kant, Hegel, Heidegger, sprinkled through his book. It is rich and my words don't do justice because I am not as schooled. But, I am indebted to this author for his knowledge. He brings the four tasks that the significant poets must be expected to perform (per Allan Grossman) to light for me: 1. to point out what is significant in the world of common experience; 2. to defeat given expectations with respect to how things are assembled; 3: to make clear how difficult it is to make meaning; 4. and to make clear how interesting the world is. In his own finishing chapter, Why I Write, he says "I don't write a poem and ask, "Is this new?" I ask, "Is this individual, distinctive, unique?" Of course for a poem to be completely unique, for it to have no relationship to anything that's come before, would be for it to not be a poem at all." He has challenged himself to have a body of work that is varied, therefore no book of his is the same. He has not branded himself. This I find admirable and sad because he is now dead. We have a body of work from him and I think he accomplished his goal, but if only he had more good time because I know he was not done with his offerings.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Wendy

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    Kimberly Reyes

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    Matthew Cheney

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    Erin Lyndal Martin

  43. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

  44. 5 out of 5

    Gabriella

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