I know that it's mentioned in my "About Me" section, but in the interest both of shameless self-promotion and of my own excitement about this recent news, I wanted to expand a bit.
My book of literary essays, currently called Inventing the Muses (the title will probably change to something that more accurately conveys the book's particularity and distinctive perspective) has just been accepted for future publication in the University of Michigan Press Poets on Poetry series. This book argues against ideological evaluations of art as either bourgeois mystification or social critique, focusing on the one hand on the liberatory possibilities of the autonomy of art and on the other hand on art’s relationship to social context and particularly to questions of social identity. For some time it’s been the fashion to see literature as a social symptom, or at best an epiphenomenon to think that social conditions and social identity completely determine the nature and value of a piece of writing. But art’s utopian potential lies exactly in the degree to which it exceeds social determinations and definitions, bringing together the strange and the familiar, combining otherness and brotherhood.
The book includes, among others, a piece on the imbrication of homosociality and homosexuality in the libidinal economy of Jean Genet’s novel Querelle; an essay on Jorie Graham’s book Erosion which interweaves an admiring discussion of her poetry’s traversal of intellectual boundaries with a critique of the problematic relations between art and politics that her poetry often enacts; an essay arguing against the imposition of ideological or political agendas, particularly those of identity politics, on poetry; a somewhat polemical survey of the contemporary American poetry scene’s still all-too-operant binary between “mainstream” and “experimental” poetry which proposes the possibility of a third mode that I call, after Wittgenstein, lyrical investigations; an essay exploring the relationships of perception and conception, presence and representation, force and form in the work of Wallace Stevens; and a longish, more personal piece on my development as a writer and a thinker, starting with my childhood in the tenements and housing projects of the Bronx.
I'm very excited about this book, and I hope that some of you will take the opportunity to read it when it comes out. I will keep you apprised of its progress into the world.