Summer 1992 • Vol. XIV No. 3 Book ReviewsJuly 1, 1992 |

Possibilities of Change: Casting the Net Wide

Poetry after Modernism ed. Robert McDowell. Brownsville, OR: Story Line Press, 1991. 376 pages. $24.95; $15.95, paper. Conversant Essays: Contemporary Poets on Poetry ed. James McCorkle. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1990. 596 pages. $35; $19.95, paper. "First of all, and let us be candid about this, we love what is on our side," says Alicia Ostriker in her splendid essay, "Dancing at the Devil's Party: Some Notes on Politics and Poetry," included in James McCorkle's Conversant Essays. "The critic who attempts to disguise advocacy," she continues, "pretending to possess literary standards without ideological implications, is not to be trusted—nor did any critic of major stature pretend to do so until the late nineteenth century" (402). Although Ostriker is speaking here of critics writing about poems, it is also true that critics writing about criticism are at least as likely to "love what is on our side," and, in this time, just as likely to disguise our advocacy

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