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Collected Poems of George Oppen

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First published in 1975, and available now as a New Directions Paperbook, George Oppen's Collected Poems brings together the work of one of our foremost contemporary poets, winner of the 1969 Pulitzer Prize. A member of the Objectivist school that flourished in the 1930s (which also included William Carlos Williams, Charles Reznikoff, Carl Rakosi, and Louis Zukofsky), he w First published in 1975, and available now as a New Directions Paperbook, George Oppen's Collected Poems brings together the work of one of our foremost contemporary poets, winner of the 1969 Pulitzer Prize. A member of the Objectivist school that flourished in the 1930s (which also included William Carlos Williams, Charles Reznikoff, Carl Rakosi, and Louis Zukofsky), he was hailed by Ezra Pound as "a serious craftsman, a sensibility which is not every man's sensibility and which has not been got out of any other man's books." Contained in the present volume are Oppen's late poems, Myth of the Blaze (1972-1975), as well as all of Discrete Series (1934), The Materials (1962), This in Which (1965), Of Being Numerous (1968), and Seascape: Needle’s Eye (1972).


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First published in 1975, and available now as a New Directions Paperbook, George Oppen's Collected Poems brings together the work of one of our foremost contemporary poets, winner of the 1969 Pulitzer Prize. A member of the Objectivist school that flourished in the 1930s (which also included William Carlos Williams, Charles Reznikoff, Carl Rakosi, and Louis Zukofsky), he w First published in 1975, and available now as a New Directions Paperbook, George Oppen's Collected Poems brings together the work of one of our foremost contemporary poets, winner of the 1969 Pulitzer Prize. A member of the Objectivist school that flourished in the 1930s (which also included William Carlos Williams, Charles Reznikoff, Carl Rakosi, and Louis Zukofsky), he was hailed by Ezra Pound as "a serious craftsman, a sensibility which is not every man's sensibility and which has not been got out of any other man's books." Contained in the present volume are Oppen's late poems, Myth of the Blaze (1972-1975), as well as all of Discrete Series (1934), The Materials (1962), This in Which (1965), Of Being Numerous (1968), and Seascape: Needle’s Eye (1972).

30 review for Collected Poems of George Oppen

  1. 5 out of 5

    Laura Leaney

    I would not have read this book of poetry had I not read poet Robert Hass's essay on Oppen's art (What Light Can Do). In his discussion, Hass writes: "[W]hat happens with the nouns in George Oppen's poetry, it seems to me, is that you can actually watch, as the words are laid down on the page, the process from which the perception of the thing gets born into its numinous quality as a word, an abstraction out of the thing." And not having read Oppen's work, but having Hass's examples before me, I I would not have read this book of poetry had I not read poet Robert Hass's essay on Oppen's art (What Light Can Do). In his discussion, Hass writes: "[W]hat happens with the nouns in George Oppen's poetry, it seems to me, is that you can actually watch, as the words are laid down on the page, the process from which the perception of the thing gets born into its numinous quality as a word, an abstraction out of the thing." And not having read Oppen's work, but having Hass's examples before me, I purchased a brittle yellowed copy of the "Collected Poems" for one dollar. With poetry books, I always expect to be moved by a few poems, while mentally shrugging at the rest (kind of like the old way of buying an album or CD for two song singles that you just HAD to have). I don't know if Robert Hass's appreciation colored my reading, but I loved nearly all Oppen's poems in this - including the ones that I could not clearly understand. I found them extremely beautiful. Emotional. Images to savor. I liked watching the nouns emerge. The poems travel everywhere: Palos Verdes (California), "Mayan Ground," Hudson River, New York, San Francisco, Europe. A sample image from "Workman": Leaving the house each dawn I see the hawk Flagrant over the driveway. In his claws That dot, that comma Is the broken animal: the dangling small beast knows The burden that he is: he has touched The Hawk's drab feathers..... I'll end with Hass's words: "Once you become aware of the sentence as an activity of perception, you become aware of it as an activity of consciousness. In George's poems we experience poetry as the activity of consciousness itself. And the effect is great purity. His work seems pure in the way that bird flight can seem pure, or the running of children or the habit of patient attention to detail in the elderly."

  2. 5 out of 5

    Peycho Kanev

    At his peak, Oppen took the seriousness of the questions left over from WWII and reminded us that life remained, and we were not above it: "Who Shall Doubt consciousness/in itself/of itself carrying/'the principle of the actual' being/actual/itself nevertheless/neither/the power/of the self nor the racing car nor the lilly/is sweet but this" ("Who Shall Doubt..."). In his introduction to Oppen's Selected Poems (New Directions, 2003), poet Robert Creeley writes about the Objectivist Group: "Howev At his peak, Oppen took the seriousness of the questions left over from WWII and reminded us that life remained, and we were not above it: "Who Shall Doubt consciousness/in itself/of itself carrying/'the principle of the actual' being/actual/itself nevertheless/neither/the power/of the self nor the racing car nor the lilly/is sweet but this" ("Who Shall Doubt..."). In his introduction to Oppen's Selected Poems (New Directions, 2003), poet Robert Creeley writes about the Objectivist Group: "However different they were later to find their lives—particularly so in the instance of Oppen and Zukofsky—all worked from the premise that poetry is a function of perception, 'of the act of perception,' as Oppen emphasizes in his one defining essay, "The Mind's Own Place." Oppen's complex 'thinking with his poems' is a consistent and major factor in all his surviving work." Creeley continues: "I think much becomes clear, in fact, if one recognizes that George Oppen is trying all his life to think the world, not only to find or to enter it, or to gain a place in it"but to realize it, to figure it, to have it literally in mind." A member of the Objectivist school, Oppen concerned himself with the question, as Dick Allen of Antioch Review stated, "How can the poet communicate a realization of the concrete object as object without drawing the reader's attention to the way in which he communicates?" Oppen once commented that he was "really concerned with the substantive, with the subject of the sentence, with what we are talking about, and not rushing over the subject matter in order to make a comment about it." I think that's enough!

  3. 5 out of 5

    J. Alfred

    I've read a good amount of poetry, and I've rarely encountered a guy I've immediately felt such an intuitive liking for as Oppen. The only poet I can really compare him to in terms of his felt quality is ee cummings, who he reminds me of in more than one way. For some good examples of his stuff, read "Image of the Engine" or, if you're a parent and want your lip to quiver, "Sara in Her Father's Arms." He has interesting things to say morally and historically as well as, of course, aesthetically. I've read a good amount of poetry, and I've rarely encountered a guy I've immediately felt such an intuitive liking for as Oppen. The only poet I can really compare him to in terms of his felt quality is ee cummings, who he reminds me of in more than one way. For some good examples of his stuff, read "Image of the Engine" or, if you're a parent and want your lip to quiver, "Sara in Her Father's Arms." He has interesting things to say morally and historically as well as, of course, aesthetically. Read this man.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    Should have stolen Peter's copy but I gave it back. Going to track one down and finish and keep it around. Should have stolen Peter's copy but I gave it back. Going to track one down and finish and keep it around.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mitchell McInnis

    Another unique poetic voice. Influenced by notions of the pure peceiver and Imagism, Oppen is a must read for any working poet.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Martinus Benders

    Mijn hemel, zelden heb ik me zo verveeld als met deze bundel. Zo saai schrijft alleen een Amerikaan of een Duitser. Het is dat ik Ton van 't Hof ooit een werk van Oppen hoorde voordragen, waarvan ik gecharmeerd was, wat deels wellicht aan zijn naam ligt, want uit dit verzamelde werk wist eigenlijk niets me echt te bekoren. Mijn hemel, zelden heb ik me zo verveeld als met deze bundel. Zo saai schrijft alleen een Amerikaan of een Duitser. Het is dat ik Ton van 't Hof ooit een werk van Oppen hoorde voordragen, waarvan ik gecharmeerd was, wat deels wellicht aan zijn naam ligt, want uit dit verzamelde werk wist eigenlijk niets me echt te bekoren.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    It's impossible to put into words how I feel about the work of George Oppen, and about this book in particular. There's been very little written critically about Oppen, either for good or bad, and that's probably a good thing. The work speaks for itself, and speaks to anyone who has any interest in the particulars of life and the world around them, much less in poetry. If I could only keep 2 or 3 books out of the many that I own, this would be one of them. It's impossible to put into words how I feel about the work of George Oppen, and about this book in particular. There's been very little written critically about Oppen, either for good or bad, and that's probably a good thing. The work speaks for itself, and speaks to anyone who has any interest in the particulars of life and the world around them, much less in poetry. If I could only keep 2 or 3 books out of the many that I own, this would be one of them.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Josh

    The new collected is clearly superior, with the proper formating of Discrete Series alone making it worth the purchase price, but I'll always have a soft spot for my old, dog-eared, marked up ND paperback. The new collected is clearly superior, with the proper formating of Discrete Series alone making it worth the purchase price, but I'll always have a soft spot for my old, dog-eared, marked up ND paperback.

  9. 5 out of 5

    John

    There's a warmth to Oppen's fragments that's simply beautiful. "Of Being Numerous" is a poem beyond catagories. It's everyone's. There's a warmth to Oppen's fragments that's simply beautiful. "Of Being Numerous" is a poem beyond catagories. It's everyone's.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Chris Schaeffer

    Basically transformed how I consider the role of language for poets.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey

    Fantastic. In my opinion, some of the best American poetry of the twentieth century.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Laurel

    another one that i keep near me like someone else might keep a bible

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sierra

    Some good poems, but has a poem called "the Zulu girl" where he talks only about breasts, despicable. Some good poems, but has a poem called "the Zulu girl" where he talks only about breasts, despicable.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Less_cunning

    one of my favorite books of Poetry. plus it is on New Directions. i love the design & everything about this book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Brian

  16. 5 out of 5

    Travis Prothro

  17. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

  18. 5 out of 5

    Marcus

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kurt Cline

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sean

  21. 4 out of 5

    Tjeert Ulehake

  22. 4 out of 5

    Dooflow

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ronald

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jesse

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ahmed Badran

  26. 5 out of 5

    Heather

  27. 4 out of 5

    Maximilian Wolf

  28. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

  29. 4 out of 5

    Greg Lehman

  30. 4 out of 5

    Joost Baars

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