Focusing on the relation of the poet to the reader, Carl Dennis proposes that poems are acts of persuasion and that the strength of a poem's speaker is the key to winning the reader's sympathetic attention. Dennis identifies the qualities of passion, discrimination, and inclusiveness as essential in creating a compelling speaker. This emphasis on character leads to fresh discussions of point of view, irony, myth, and genre. Each subject is developed through careful readings of a wide variety of poets--from Whitman and Dickinson to contemporaries. Lucidly written, Poetry as Persuasion offers both inspiration and important advice for practicing poets, and at the same time provides anyone with an interest in poetry a fresh understanding of its appeal.
Carl Dennis is the author of seven books of poetry, including, most recently, "Practical Gods," winner of the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry. A recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, in 2000 he was awarded the Ruth Lilly Prize from "Poetry Magazine" and the Modern Poetry Association for his contribution to American poetry. He is a professor of English at the State University of New York at Buffalo and a sometime member of the faculty of the MFA program in creative writing at Warren Wilson College.
"With Whitman and Dickinson as his touchstones and contemporary American poetry as his specific purview, Carl Dennis brilliantly demonstrates in Poetry as Persuasion why poetic voice is essential to the process of lyric articulation. Dennis's essays are particularly useful to poets learning their craft and to students of poetry, but every reader will find delight in the calm and lucid intelligence each page holds."--Michael Collier
"Poetry as Persuasion is the result of the careful consideration of long learning. Dennis has done all the work for us and modestly offers us its fruit in his complete articulation of a single, large, useful idea. His readings are almost unerringly sharp. The range of his examples is generous, and the way he compares and contrasts them is invariably pertinent. He is a reliable tour guide and gentle teacher."--Michael Ryan