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An examination of what binds poetic endeavor into a singular, shining whole

Table of contents

The Hut of Poetry: Reading as Initiatory Experience                                   
Arcadian Survey                                                                                            
As in the Green Trees                                                                                    
Of Time and Timelessness in the Poetic Sentence                                        
To Arrive in Zeno’s Thought: Reverie-on, Thinking-in, Peter Gizzi’s “A Panic that Can still Come upon Me”                           
Poetic Geometries: Moby-Dick as Primer to Poetic Crisis                           
What Kind of Monster am I?                                                                         
Ghosting the Line: Susan Howe and the Ethics of Haunting                        
Thinking as Burial Practice: Exhuming an Epistemology in Thoreau, Dickinson, and Emerson                                                                          
“The Oracular Tree Acquiring”: On Romanticism as Radical Practice       
Epistemic Flow                                                                                              
Lyric Consciousness                                                                                      
Circularities: A Conversation


What is it to write a poem? What work do words do when placed with care and vision into the intensely charged space of poetic effort? How to Make a Circle does not seek to answer those questions, but to encounter them as fully and honestly as one can. The thread running through the essays is an ongoing investigation into poetry as an epistemological experiment, one which binds the imagination to the worldly, and trusts that creative endeavor is a form of participation in the ongoing creation of the world. It does so in part by focusing on thinkers, poets, writers, and literary movements where such thinking for a while prevailed, from Socrates to Melville, Mythology to Romanticism. Here the poem is approached as something deeply rooted in human consciousness, done so not to make an atavistic claim about poetry's history, but to show the ways in which oldest tradition gives us ever-new eyes. The hope this book gathers around is that poetry—poetic expression, the wild wonder of working in words—turns us back toward the world in more vibrant, more open, more ethical ways. How to Make a Circle summons lyric powers—not an argument, but a participation in the ways poetry works in us and on us. 

Dan Beachy-Quick is University Distinguished Teaching Scholar at Colorado State University. His books of poetry include, Circle's Apprentice (2011, Winner of the Colorado Book Award in Poetry), gentlessness (2015), Variations on Dawn and Dusk (2019) and Arrows (2020). In 2016 he was named a Guggenheim Fellow in Poetry.