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This review is taken from PN Review 229, Volume 42 Number 5, May - June 2016.

Moving On
The Poetry and Poetics of Michael Heller, edited by Jon Curley & Burt Kimmelman.
Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2015, 204 pp.
In the Preface to his collection of essays on ‘Poets, Poetry and Poetics’, published by Salt in 2005, Michael Heller suggested that ‘Poetry is always about to happen and also about to disappear, to be drowned out by conventional thought, to marginalise itself or to be marginalised by its writers, readers and critics.’ The poet who translates silence into audibility, the nameless into the named, the invisible into that which can be seen and read, recognises the way in which great compositions induce a sense of loneliness when they are contemplated. In Heller’s own words from an interview with the editors of this fine new collection of essays, the loneliness is located in the moment of finishing the composition ‘because when finished, they are separated’ from those who created them:

The feel of closure, of the little box clicking shut, as Eliot speaks of it, has been one of the reasons for pursuing poetry. This has nothing to do with whether or not one is working in so-called closed or open forms; rather, closure is deeply a part of human experience, enabling us to understand, to ‘move on’ as the pop-lingo has it.

In the Foreword to the eight substantial essays in this collection, Burt Kimmelman suggests that while Heller’s poetics has developed ‘out of the same poetic traditions’ honoured by some of his contemporaries ‘who for their own good reasons have sought to dismantle lyrical expression’, he has found a way ‘to keep statement itself intact and thereby ...

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