Argues that if poems are to matter in American culture, they must be read rather than theorized over.
Holding Patterns provides a sympathetic criticism of poems, one that avoids the appliance of criticism and that self-consciously persists in close readings of texts as the directing force of its argument. Presently, contemporary literary criticism and contemporary poetry in America seem at cross-purposes. Indeed, current literary critics seldom address the poems of their contemporaries. While structuralists and other schools of critics seek terms, generalizations, and whole systems to account for and to understand poems, poets themselves repeatedly assert that each poem has its own poetic and that no system applies to their writing. This book reads poems by contemporary poets, such as Jorie Graham, Charles Wright, Denis Johnson, and Amy Clampitt, not to illuminate a theory but to shed light on the poem.
Daniel McGuiness is Associate Professor of Writing at Loyola College.
"Holding Patterns is one of the most original, entertaining, and companionable books about contemporary poetry that I've read in many years. It is remarkably modest and yet exceptionally ambitious at the same time—a powerful and winning combination. McGuiness is an increasingly rare example of an individual critic writing without an eye to the academy, simply an eye to the work. " — David St. John, author of Study for the World's Body: New and Selected Poems
"Reading Holding Patterns is like having a drink with an intelligent, like-minded spirit—a contemporary, a lively conversationalist. McGuiness keeps himself in a constant state of exploration and speculation. " — Leslie Ullman, author of Slow Work through Sand: Poems