Dianoia continues this acclaimed poet’s investigations into language, culture, and the intersections of recent history, philosophy, and human possibility



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Weight .65 lbs
Dimensions 5.8 × .2 × 8.8 in

In a multigenre approach, making use of poetry, prose and graphics, Heller articulates with precision and clarity the lyric/anti-lyric boundaries of contemporary life exploring the nature of violence, politics, art, and the literary imagination. Heller’s poetry, impelled by what he calls his “thought-prosody,” in its diction and cadences, its range of references and allusions, strives to create an intelligible aesthetic and ethical vision, which “gives more force to a human argument of the world.”


Michael Heller’s new book has the energy and urgency of a dialogue on all that most matters, a dialogue with himself, with the reader, with poets and artists (Oppen, Segalen, Basho, Beckmann, Picasso), with history and terror, with the world and its absence. Dianoia is a bristling and bracing book of unwavering attentiveness, apprehensive questioning, breathtaking clarity. It marks a further tuning of Heller’s rigorous music of thought.

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ISBN: 978-1-937658-46-5
paperback, 120 pages, 6 x 9 in
Publication Date: 2016

“This is a ‘Jewish’ poem alright,” Michael Heller writes in the second poem of Dianoia, the most recent collection to be added to his books of poetry, now totalling more than twenty. It’s an assertion, yes, but one that is packed with doubt. On one level, it seems as though Heller is assuring himself because he’s not so sure—as if he might be searching for a genuinely Jewish poem amid stacks of his poems that are semi-Jewish, near-Jewish, or maybe not Jewish at all. But on another level, there’s also the sense of an artist standing at a distance from his art, thumb up and squinting at it to assess what kind of beast it truly is: “Hmm. Yes. This is a Jewish poem, alright.” Or is it?

The question of what makes a Jewish poem—must it be written by a Jew? Must it revolve around explicitly Jewish themes? Must it have a Jewish tone or feeling?—is not easily resolved. Moreover, the poems in the two excellent new books by American free-verse masters that are under review here are too rich and diverse to conform to any label. They are simply poetry, with all the modest grandeur that the word implies.
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Michael Heller has published over twenty volumes of poetry, essays, memoir, and fiction. Among his recent books are This Constellation Is A Name: Collected Poems 1965-2010, Beckmann Variations &amp …

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