Cover image for Twenty poems that could save America and other essays
Twenty poems that could save America and other essays
Hoagland, Tony, author.
Personal Author:
First ed.
Publication Information:
Minneapolis, MN : Graywolf Press, 2014.
Physical Description:
226 pages : 23 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3558.O3355 T94 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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A fearless, wide-ranging book on the state of poetry and American literary culture by Tony Hoagland, the author of What Narcissism Means to Me

Live American poetry is absent from our public schools. The teaching of poetry languishes, and that region of youthful neurological terrain capable of being ignited only by poetry is largely dark, unpopulated, and silent, like a classroom whose shades are drawn. This is more than a shame, for poetry is our common treasure-house, and we need its vitality, its respect for the subconscious, its willingness to entertain ambiguity, its plaintive truth-telling, and its imaginative exhibitions of linguistic freedom, which confront the general culture's more grotesque manipulations. We need the emotional training sessions poetry conducts us through. We need its previews of coming attractions: heartbreak, survival, failure, endurance, understanding, more heartbreak.
--from "Twenty Poems That Could Save America"

Twenty Poems That Could Save America presents insightful essays on the craft of poetry and a bold conversation about the role of poetry in contemporary culture. Essays on the "vertigo" effects of new poetry give way to appraisals of Robert Bly, Sharon Olds, and Dean Young. At the heart of this book is an honesty and curiosity about the ways poetry can influence America at both the private and public levels. Tony Hoagland is already one of this country's most provocative poets, and this book confirms his role as a restless andperceptive literary and cultural critic.

Author Notes

Anthony Dey Hoagland was born at Fort Bragg, North Carolina on November 19, 1953. He received a bachelor's degree in general studies from the University of Iowa and a master of fine arts degree from the University of Arizona. His first poetry collection, Sweet Ruin, was published in 1992. His other collections of poetry included What Narcissism Means to Me, Unincorporated Persons in the Late Honda Dynasty, Real Sofistikashun, Twenty Poems That Could Save America and Other Essays, and Priest Turned Therapist Treats Fear of God. He taught at the University of Houston. He died from pancreatic cancer on October 23, 2018 at the age of 64.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

Nearly every year, a new primer on American poetics attempts to diagnose the state of contemporary verse, each time with a different agenda and purpose. In this iteration, accomplished poet Hoagland articulates his concern that poetry in the U.S. has failed to transfigure the culture because it exhibits a conspicuous lack of adulthood. It may sound like an avuncular complaint, but Hoagland makes clear his affinity for subversion and irreverence in smart passages on idiom and diction that are packed with excerpts and explication of a wide range of poets, from Rainer Maria Rilke and Wallace Stevens to Lucie Brock-Broido and Marianne Moore. Hoagland insists the best poetry can play with language, sound, and subject matter, but it must always emphasize sustained thought, emotional intensity, and ethical agency, traits that can save poetry from utter irrelevance. Hoagland defends this thesis most convincingly in longer chapters he devotes to the lasting influence of poets Dean Young, Sharon Olds, and Robert Bly. A great read for poets and poetry lovers and a rejuvenating call to reimagine literary priorities.--Báez, Diego Copyright 2014 Booklist