Pierce-Arrow by Susan Howe

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Synopsis

Pierce-Arrow takes as its shooting off point the figure of Charles S. Peirce, the allusive late nineteenth-century philosopher-scientist and founder of pragmatism, a man always on the periphery of the academic and social establishments yet intimately conjoined with them by birth and upbringing.

Through Peirce and his wife Juliette, a lady of shadowy antecedents, Howe creates an intriguing nexus that explores the darker, melancholy sides of the fin de siecle Anglo-American intelligentsia. Besides George Meredith and his wife Mary Ellen, Swinburne and his companion Theodore Watts-Dunton are among those who also find a place in the three poem-sequences that comprise the book: "Arisbe," "The Leisure of the Theory Class," and "Rückenfigur." Howe's historical linkings, resonant with the sorrows of love and loss and the tragedies of war, create a compelling canvas of associations. "It's the blanks and gaps," she says, "that to me actually represent what poetry is-the connections between seemingly unconnected things-as if there is a place and might be a map to thought, when we know there is not."
 

About Susan Howe

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Poet Susan Howe's books include My Emily Dickinson, The Nonconformist's Memorial, Souls of the Labadie Tract, Pierce-Arrow, That This, and many others. She is a professor of English at the State University of New York, Buffalo, and a 1998 Guggenheim fellow.
 
Published June 17, 1999 by New Directions. 144 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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With her first book of new poems in six years, Howe further solidifies her reputation as one of North Americas foremost experimental writers.

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