The Castle of Perseverance

Job Opportunities in Contemporary Poetry
Thomas M. Disch
Eminently readable and refreshingly candid essays on literature and culture, by a master of many literary genres and forms


This collection by poet and novelist Thomas M. Disch offers a generous assortment of his writing on various literary topics, his reviews of plays and opera, and some of his poetry. The first essay, "The Future of the Book," prophesies the decline of print media and the increasing prominence of the internet and hypertext as a means of disseminating authors' work. Unlike Sven Birkerts, Disch does not mourn nostalgically the loss of Gutenberg's printing press. Rather, he speaks with playful aptness of books saturating our landfills.

Next, Disch offers an essay on epic verse that juxtaposes such canonical giants as Homer and Virgil with the likes of Michael Lind and some war-inspired American novelists, including John Dos Passos, Ernest Hemingway, and Norman Mailer. He uses Harold Bloom's concept of "the anxiety of influence" as well as the ideas of the poetical voice to segue into a discussion on twentieth-century poet John Ciardi's progression from the "Capitalist of the Po-Biz" in his early career to "the Polonius of American poetry."

The essay "Job Opportunities in Contemporary Poetry" is a scathing and witty critique of the poet as professional. Disch argues that the notion that one can subsist on one's poetry alone while escaping to the Caribbean for vacations and retreats is "grasshopperism at its most presumptuous." All in all, Disch dishes out a sumptuous platter of poems and prose that are certain to satisfy.

Thomas Disch is a popular and prolific poet, playwright, essayist, and novelist. He is the author of many works of science fiction and the poetry collections Dark Verses and Light and Yes, Let's: New and Selected Poems.

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Copyright © 2002, University of Michigan. All rights reserved.

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  • 5-3/8 x 8.
  • 160pp.
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  • Paper
  • 2002
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  • 978-0-472-06750-3

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