From the author of Orpheus in the Bronx: Essays on Identity, Politics, and the Freedom of Poetry (University of Michigan Press, 2007), as well as five books of poetry, comes this collection of essays on the craft of creating poetry. Published posthumously and edited by his longtime partner Robert Philen, the essays by the late Reginald Shepherd cover challenging topics such as poetic imagery, writing anti-colonialist texts, the issues behind teaching creative writing, and the existence of muses. In the introduction to the book, Philen writes: “The essays in A Martian Muse, reflecting the broad-ranging nature of Shepherd’s mind, explore the big issues of any consideration of poetry, How poetry works, and How poetry is written or comes to be, though with each essay characterized by the precision and specificity that are a hallmark of his poetry and prose.” This collection of essays not only explores poetry through the eyes of a prolific writer and lover of the art, but will inspire writers to dig deeper into their craft. “The poem, when it is at its best, when we are at our best, is a kind of agon between the poet and the language, and the poet has to bring all his or her resources to bear, or it’s not a real struggle at all, just a performance,” writes Shepherd.
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