Contemporary Poetry and Social Life

Contemporary Poetry and Social Life SIOBHAN PHILLIPS Oren Izenberg, Being Numerous: Poetry and the Ground of Social Life. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2011. ix + 234 pp. $27.95. n Being Numerous: Poetry and the Ground of Social Life, Oren Izenberg sets out nothing less than a definition and defense of poetry. The complete book shows why essay-length portions have roused such excitement among scholars of the "new lyric studies" and of twentieth-century literature; this urgent, considered study is essential to both. Izenberg is interested in the nature of a genre pressed to its essence by the necessities of recent history. He would shift attention away from the fact of the twentieth-century poem--whether taken as a specific instance of situated speech or as an ideal expression of transcendent self-reflection--and toward the operation of twentiethcentury poetry. Poetry can be a potential, he argues, rather than a product or effect; it is something we are rather than something we do. It allows one to recognize the presence of others and thus provides one with the foundation for social feeling. Writers of this art are not seeking "a kind of object" so much as "a knowledge or capacity" that is "constitutive of what it is to http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Contemporary Literature University of Wisconsin Press

Contemporary Poetry and Social Life

Contemporary Literature, Volume 53 (1) – May 30, 2012

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Publisher
University of Wisconsin Press
Copyright
Copyright © the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin.
ISSN
1548-9949
Publisher site
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Abstract

SIOBHAN PHILLIPS Oren Izenberg, Being Numerous: Poetry and the Ground of Social Life. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2011. ix + 234 pp. $27.95. n Being Numerous: Poetry and the Ground of Social Life, Oren Izenberg sets out nothing less than a definition and defense of poetry. The complete book shows why essay-length portions have roused such excitement among scholars of the "new lyric studies" and of twentieth-century literature; this urgent, considered study is essential to both. Izenberg is interested in the nature of a genre pressed to its essence by the necessities of recent history. He would shift attention away from the fact of the twentieth-century poem--whether taken as a specific instance of situated speech or as an ideal expression of transcendent self-reflection--and toward the operation of twentiethcentury poetry. Poetry can be a potential, he argues, rather than a product or effect; it is something we are rather than something we do. It allows one to recognize the presence of others and thus provides one with the foundation for social feeling. Writers of this art are not seeking "a kind of object" so much as "a knowledge or capacity" that is "constitutive of what it is to

Journal

Contemporary LiteratureUniversity of Wisconsin Press

Published: May 30, 2012

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