What Persists contains eighteen of the nearly fifty essays on poetry that Judith Kitchen published in The Georgia Review over a twenty-five-year span. Coming at the genre from every possible angle, this celebrated critic discusses work by older and younger poets, most American but some foreign, and many of whom were not yet part of the contemporary canon. Her essays reveal a cultural history from the dismantling of the Berlin Wall, through 9/11 and the Iraq War, and move into today's political climate. They chronicle personal interests while they also make note of what was happening in contemporary poetry by revealing overall changes of taste, both in content and in the use of craft. Over time, they fashion a comprehensive overview of the contemporary literary scene.
At its best, What Persists shows what a wide range of poetry is being written-by women, men, poets who celebrate their ethnicity, poets who show a fierce individualism, poets whose careers have soared, promising poets whose work has all but disappeared.
As assembled here these writings become a brilliant tour of the last twenty-five years of American poetry, not systematic, orderly, or complete, but strikingly capacious and wide ranging. Kitchen is an extraordinary guide to these writers and texts, both the famous and the less familiar. What Persists
is both a significant contribution to American poetry criticism and a lasting tribute to one of our best recent critics.
—Jeff Gundy, author of Somewhere near Defiance
Compact as crystal, this book touches and changes its reader and will prove a shining milestone to future poets, scholars, and readers seeking the light of poetry itself.
—John R. Stilgoe, author of Landscape and Images
"Judith Kitchen refused to suffer the trendy, the power-mongered, the almost-poem, and the cant (and simply the can't) that permeate the poetry world. Of her own criticism she said at one point, 'Does this make me sound like [a] curmudgeon? Partly . . . but it also makes me . . . the reader in search of something subtle, even magical.' For twenty-six years-for a generation-Judith introduced us to, and defended, and parsed, that magic, teaching us to see it for ourselves and holding its practitioners to the highest standards. Her essays are supple, richly textured (and often movingly autobiographical) prose; her critical heart is equally generous and demanding; her mind is quirky, opinionated, candid, and honeycombed with the love and lore of the art she chose to showcase. Seemingly without trying (but of course that was part of her
magic) she became my generation's most eloquent and necessary exponent of American poetry."
I hope others will immerse themselves in this book and be as moved, amazed, touched, and enlightened as I felt when I read and now reread her marvelous sentences, her deep understanding of poetry, her remarkable ability to absorb it all and make sense of it for her readers.
—Kelly Cherry, Hollins Critic
Gravity's Rainbow, Domination and Freedom
is a seminal study of Pynchon's most influential text, which not only situates the novel in the wider cultural milieu of its time of production and hereby elucidates its narrative and political subtexts, but it also helps Pynchon novices to navigate this moloch-one can indeed feel the authors' longtime experience with teaching the novel and therefore not ending up in constructing a narrow cave that only allows experts in.
—Sebastian Huber, Amerikastudien/American Studies