In Poetic License, Marjorie Perloff insists that despite the recent interest in "opening up the canon," our understanding of poetry and poetics is all too often rutted in conventional notions of the lyric that shed little light on what poets and artists are actually doing today. On topics ranging from general problems of canonicity to the critical evaluation of such poets as Plath, Ginsberg, and others, Perloff introduces nonconventional ideas of the nature of poetic texts and reframes the discussion of postmodern "paratexts." Her discussion reformulates basic presuppositions of what poetry is and what it can do and leads us to see the great possibilities still open to lyric poetry at a time when, as Yeats predicted, "the center cannot hold."
Marjorie Perloff is the Sadie Dernham Patek professor of Humanities at Stanford University. She is the author of many books of literary criticism, including The Poetics of Indeterminacy: Rimbaud to Cage, also published by Northwestern University Press.