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Essays by a prize-winning poet that explore the intersection of poetry and philosophy

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Introduction: Poetry and the Structure of Speculation - 1

Ashbery's Meditations - 10
The Metaphysical Subject of John Ashbery's Poetry 

The Subject of Extremity - 29

On Joan Murray - 34

A Brief Appreciation - 36
Contrary Impulses: The Tension between Poetry and Theory

The Absence of a Noble Presence - 52

Prose Poems and Poet's Prose - 62

Poetry and the Experience of Experience - 67

The Romance of Realism - 89

Poetry at One Remove - 108


Poetry at One Remove collects the essays of contemporary American poet John Koethe. Uniquely, Koethe is also a philosopher fascinated by the relationship between poetry and philosophy. His essays address the work of particular poets, the notions of the self poetry embodies, the relationship between poetry and theory, the roles of thought, experience, and emotion in poetry, the relationship between romanticism and philosophical realism, and the connection between one's own conception of one's identity and the poetry one writes.
Though the individual essays are self-contained, the conception of poetry that emerges from them is a coherent one: a neo-romantic perspective that sees poetry as an enactment or affirmation of the claims of subjectivity, set against an inert, objective world that threatens to annihilate it. This conception of romanticism is a highly abstract and generalized one and is related to the experience of what Kant called the dynamical sublime, another theme that runs through several of the essays. It is also a conception that informs Koethe's own poetry.
The book will appeal to general readers interested in poetry of a meditative nature; those in literary studies interested in the relation of theory to literature, in Romanticism, and in contemporary poetry; and philosophers interested in the relationship between philosophy and literature.
John Koethe is author of Falling Water and The Constructor. He has received a fellowship from the National Endowment of the Arts and a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, and numerous other prizes. He is is Professor of Philosophy, University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee.