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Twenty Poems That Could Save America and Other Essays

Tony Hoagland
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 and perceptive literary and cultural critic.
 
Praise for Tony Hoagland:
 
“Few [poets] deliver more pure pleasure. [Hoagland’s] erudite comic poems are backloaded with heartache and longing, and they function, emotionally, like improvised explosive devices. . . . Listen up, cats: This plain, unincorporated, free-range American poet is one you’ll want to know about.”—Dwight Garner, The New York Times

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$16.00
ISBN
978-1-55597-694-1
Format
Paperback
Publication Date
Pages
256
Trim Size
6 x 9
A fearless, wide-ranging book on the state of poetry and American literary culture by Tony Hoagland, author of What Narcissism Means to Me

About the Author

Tony  Hoagland
Credit: Elizabeth Jacobson
Tony Hoagland was the author of seven collections of poetry, including Priest Turned Therapist Treats Fear of God, What Narcissism Means to Me, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and Donkey Gospel, winner of the James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets. He was also the author of two collections of essays, Twenty Poems That Could Save America and Other Essays and Real Sofistikashun: Essays on Poetry and Craft. He received the Jackson Poetry Prize from Poets & Writers, the Mark Twain Award from the Poetry Foundation, and the O. B. Hardison, Jr. Award from the Folger Shakespeare Library. He taught for many years at the University of Houston. Hoagland died in October 2018.
 
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Praise

  • “The essays are the most un-stale writings in many a year. . . . Hoagland diffuses everything, explaining, without taking sides, making everything clear.”—Washington Independent Review of Books
  • “A great read for poets and poetry lovers and a rejuvenating call to reimagine literary priorities.”—Booklist
  • “There is real purpose lurking in [Hoagland’s] seemingly offhanded style, which may not save America, but will certainly deepen our experience of it through poetry.”—Edward Hirsch
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