The wild is always unprecedented, but never inconsistent. This is the knowledge that makes American scholarship American. Norman Finkelstein offers unprecedented insights here whose facts consist of one Soul purpose: Friendship. Here the imagination of poetry is Friendship on the line. And driving that line are energies of the inevitable (if we are to live, Friendship is inevitable): motions outward; an outstretched hand; a goddamn big car bought and paid for lovingly. These energies speak simply, and doing so, they accomplish new simplicities which Finkelstein boldly proposes as the most radical virtues of poetic art. Read and see.
from the introduction by Donald Revell
Norman Finkelstein came of age under the sign of Donald Allen’s New American Poetry, but he makes the Allen poets seem entirely new. Whether he is discussing the poetry of Robert Creeley or Frank O’Hara, Jack Spicer or John Wieners, he probes beneath the surface and looks for the buried emotional landscape behind the “slight lyric grace.” Accordingly, the poets in question emerge as profound, even spiritual beings, for whom poetry is not just one mode of expression, but THE inevitable one. I found myself deeply moved by Finkelstein’s readings; his take, for example, on Michael Palmer’s Baudelaire Series, with its tension between transcendence and the vagaries of everyday life. His empathy and respect for a given poet's project is rare in contemporary criticism.
Norman Finkelstein is the author of Restless Messengers and three volumes of literary criticism, the most recent of which is Not One of Them In Place: Modern Poetry and Jewish American Identity. He lives in Cincinnati, where he is a Professor of English at Xavier University.