[UCP Books]: The Poet's Freedom

“Scholarly yet maverick, patiently constructed yet risk-taking, her work constantly surprises. . . . Whether she’s undoing and reconfiguring Virgil’s Georgics or Chaucer’s dream poetry, or exploring the language of children’s games, [Stewart] engages her subjects with vitality and freshness.”

John Kinsella, The Guardian


The Poet's Freedom
A Notebook on Making
Susan Stewart

Publication Date: December 1, 2011 $22.50 • £14.50
International publication date: December 12, 2011 978-0-226-77387-2 (paper)
Why do we need new art? How free is the artist in making? And why is the artist, and particularly the poet, a figure of freedom in Western culture? MacArthur Award–winning poet and critic Susan Stewart ponders these questions in The Poet’s Freedom, an engaging and beautifully written notebook on making that will delight anyone interested in the creation of art and literature.
Freedom, Stewart argues, is necessary to making. She traces ideas of both through insightful readings of an array of Western philosophers and poets—Plato, Homer, Marx, and Dante are among her key sources—and also considers the theme of making in the Hebrew Scriptures, examining their accountof a god who creates the world and leaves humans free to rearrange and reform the materials of nature. She then follows the force of rhythms, images, rhetorical traditions, the traps of the passions, and the nature of language in the cycle of making and remaking. Throughout, she weaves the insight that the freedom to reverse any act of artistic making is as essential as the freedom to create.

A book about the pleasures of making and thinking as means of life, The Poet’s Freedom celebrates the freedom of artists who make considered choices and shape surprising consequences.

Susan Stewart
is the Avalon Foundation University Professor in the Humanities and director of the Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts at Princeton University. A former MacArthur fellow, she is the author of five earlier critical studies, including Poetry and the Fate of the Senses, which won the Christian Gauss award of the Phi Beta Kappa Society and the Truman Capote Award. She is also the author of five books of poems, most recently Red Rover and Columbarium, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award. These titles, along with The Open Studio and The Forest, are all published by the University of Chicago Press. She is available for interviews.

For additional information, please contact Laura Avey at (773)702-0376 or lavey@press.uchicago.edu.


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