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Selected Prose, Daybooks, and Papers

George Oppen (Author), Stephen Cope (Editor), Stephen Cope (Introduction)

Available worldwide

Paperback, 296 pages
ISBN: 9780520252325
January 2008
$34.95, £28.00
This is the first comprehensive critical edition of the unpublished writings of Pulitzer Prize-winning objectivist poet George Oppen (1908-1984). Editor Stephen Cope has made a judicious selection of Oppen's extant writings outside of poetry, including the essay "The Mind's Own Place" as well as "Twenty-Six Fragments," which were found on the wall of Oppen's study after his death. Most notable are Oppen's "Daybooks," composed in the decade following his return to poetry in 1958. Selected Prose, Daybooks, and Papers is an inspiring portrait of this essential writer and a testament to the creative process itself.

Textual Apparatus

Three Poets
The Mind’s Own Place
A Review of David Antin’s Definitions
On Armand Schwerner
A Note on Tom McGrath etc.
A Letter
Untitled: “ . . . will”
Non-Resistance, etc. Or: Of the Guiltless
Statement on Poetics



List of Abbreviations
George Oppen (1908–1984) was born in New York and died in San Francisco. He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1968 for Of Being Numerous. His work is available in New Collected Poems, edited by Michael Davidson (2002); Selected Poems, edited by Robert Creeley (2003); and Selected Letters of George Oppen, edited by Rachel Blau DuPlessis (1990). Stephen Cope received his PhD in 2005 from the University of California, San Diego, where he was a research fellow at the Archive for New Poetry, where Oppen's papers are housed. He has taught at universities in California, Iowa, and Ohio.
“A book that will undoubtedly deepen readers’ experience and understanding of Oppen, and broaden the scope of Oppen scholarship in the years to come.”—Joseph Bradshaw Rain Taxi Review Of Books
"Carefully transcribed and annotated... Cope's book is well organized and makes an admirably clear text for readers."—Times Literary Supplement (TLS)
“This trim, meticulously edited collection of objectivist American poet George Oppen's unpublished prose writings offers an unusually candid and sometimes challenging picture of the Pulitzer Prize winner's brilliant, questing, often guilt-ridden mind. . . . This volume marks a strikingly resurgent interest in the spare, precise, ego-free poetry of a man with the will to focus on the poem as a precise construct, and it will surely both satisfy and benefit readers already sufficiently acquainted with his poetic credo.”—Charles C. Nash Library Journal
"Stephen Cope approaches Oppen's various prose writings--essays, bound daybooks and papers of interest—with the same intensive and self-reflexive care that Oppen's poems cultivate toward the world. This is exemplary editing of exemplary thinking. I was surprised and delighted by many of the particulars, especially a brilliantly measured review of Charles Olson. But the major revelation was the range and precision and constructivist architecture that went into Oppen's Daybooks: they rival his books of poetry, as if Minima Moralia could thrive on amphetamines."—Charles Altieri

"George Oppen's daybooks, prose and papers offer the singular record of a mind determinedly thinking toward poetry, the world and human company, and that elusive point where they converge. In these pages, scrupulously assembled, edited and annotated by Stephen Cope, we find the groundwork for some of the finest American verse of the twentieth century. The collection should prove invaluable to those interested in the often fitful, yet resolute, steps along the way of truths not easily attained."—Michael Palmer, author of Company of Moths

"Any number of poets keep notebooks, but George Oppen's are unique in their rigor, their conceptual profundity, and especially their ethical awareness and insistent self-criticism. Stephen Cope's meticulously edited and annotated collection of Oppen's "Daybooks," short critical essays, and fugitive pieces should be required reading for anyone who cares about the place of poetry in the post-World War II era. With his characteristic modesty, Oppen didn't set out to formulate a full-scale aesthetic; he just happened to produce one of the finest we have."—Marjorie Perloff, author of Radical Artifice: Writing Poetry in the Age of Media

"Here is the essential record of George Oppen's indelible voice, astonishing as it wanders and discovers a new mode 'between the grim gray lines of the Philistines and the ramshackle emplacements of Bohemia' in order to recover an open ground that is, in the fact, ' the function of poetry to serve as a test of truth.' Few documents in our time would better serve to illuminate the hard-won life of being a poet in the American language than this volume, brilliantly edited by Stephen Cope. Simply put, what a laboratory is to hard science, these daybooks are to poetry."—Peter Gizzi, author of The Outernationale

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