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My Way

Speeches and Poems

This book can be downloaded and read in Apple Books on your Mac or iOS device.


“Verse is born free but everywhere in chains. It has been my project to rattle the chains.” (from “The Revenge of the Poet-Critic")

In My Way, (in)famous language poet and critic Charles Bernstein deploys a wide variety of interlinked forms—speeches and poems, interviews and essays—to explore the place of poetry in American culture and in the university. Sometimes comic, sometimes dark, Bernstein’s writing is irreverent but always relevant, “not structurally challenged, but structurally challenging.”

Addressing many interrelated issues, Bernstein moves from the role of the public intellectual to the poetics of scholarly prose, from vernacular modernism to idiosyncratic postmodernism, from identity politics to the resurgence of the aesthetic, from cultural studies to poetry as a performance art, from the small press movement to the Web. Along the way he provides “close listening” to such poets as Charles Reznikoff, Laura Riding, Susan Howe, Ezra Pound, Allen Ginsberg, and Gertrude Stein, as well as a fresh perspective on L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E, the magazine he coedited that became a fulcrum for a new wave of North American writing.

In his passionate defense of an activist, innovative poetry, Bernstein never departs from the culturally engaged, linguistically complex, yet often very funny writing that has characterized his unique approach to poetry for over twenty years. Offering some of his most daring work yet—essays in poetic lines, prose with poetic motifs, interviews miming speech, speeches veering into song—Charles Bernstein’s My Way illuminates the newest developments in contemporary poetry with its own contributions to them.

“The result of [Bernstein’s] provocative groping is more stimulating than many books of either poetry or criticism have been in recent years.”—Molly McQuade, Washington Post Book World

“This book, for all of its centrifugal activity, is a singular yet globally relevant perspective on the literary arts and their institutions, offered in good faith, yet cranky and poignant enough to not be easily ignored.”—Publishers Weekly

“Bernstein has emerged as postmodern poetry’s sous-chef of insouciance. My Way is another of his rich concoctions, fortified with intellect and seasoned with laughter.”—Timothy Gray, American Literature

From Publishers Weekly

Feb 01, 1999 – One of the key theorists of the workshop-busting Language poets, the charismatic Bernstein (A Poetics; Dark City, Rough Trades) continues to expand his purview past the formal concerns of that group. His latest critico-poetic salvo takes in issues of multiculuralism; "standard" vs. "non-standard" forms of language usage; the ossified conservative agenda of literary institutions in the United States; poetry in performance--both on the page and on stage; and graduate-level pedagogical practices ("Frame Lock"). Eclectic both in its forms of expression (scholarly essays; interviews; generous explications of poets like Charles Reznikoff, Larry Eigner, Hannah Weiner and Susan Howe; quirky poems; and forms that are hybrids of all of these) and in its range of interests, My Way also grants us peeks beneath the surface of Bernstein's sometimes strategically difficult discourse, as in a long autobiographical interview with Loss Glazier, or deceptively accessible poems like "A Test of Poetry," which documents the traumas of his translators. "Water Images of The New Yorker" is a fine little investigative piece, discovering that 86% of the poems over a 16 week period contained images of water, while "Dear Mr. Fanelli," a poem in skinny Schuyleresque lines, takes the language of a subway administrator's "request for comments" literally, highlighting how even bureaucratic language is vexed with double-meanings. "Poetics of the Americas" creates an important bridge between the ethnically marginalized practices of poets like Claude McKay and Paul Lawrence Dunbar and more self-consciously "avant-garde" writers like Louis Zukofsky, Basil Bunting and the Language poets themselves. This book, for all of its centrifugal activity, is a singular yet globally relevant perspective on the literary arts and their institutions, offered in good faith, yet cranky and poignant enough to not be easily ignored.
My Way
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  • $33.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Poetry
  • Published: Mar 15, 2010
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Seller: Chicago Distribution Center
  • Print Length: 329 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: This book can only be viewed on an iOS device with Apple Books on iOS 12 or later, iBooks 1.5 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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