What if the great Romantic poet William Wordsworth were alive today? Jeffrey Robinson performs an act of textual magic that gives us a sense of what that might be like. Between August 2002 and August 2003 he kept a diary while reading Wordsworth and found that work of 200 years ago shows up powerfully as a fact of daily life. Experiments with spontaneous literary criticism tease out a lifetime of familiarity with the poet, his surroundings, and Romantic culture. "History" now opens to chance juxtapositions with events in the world and Robinson's own mind and quotidian experience, including his own Wordsworth-related poems in "open forms," along with running poetic commentaries. To renew familiar work by discovering direct ways into its "animating principles," Wordsworth is read through the ears and eyes of twentieth-century experimental poetry and poetics. This shows Wordsworth's own experimentalism and principle of "the life of things" to be still vital to poetic life now. Robinson's critical response belongs to the tradition of H.D., Charles Olson, Ronald Johnson,and Susan Howe.
Praise for WORDSWORTH DAY BY DAY "Boldly flaunting the crossing of genres, Jeffrey Robinson's WORDSWORTH DAY BY DAY is literary criticism's fully present response to that medieval classic and devotional text, the Book of Hours. With stunning scholarship and passion Robinson creates a post-modern breviary on Wordsworth's poetics that is rigorously meditative and inquiring in its illuminating stroll. A visionary diary, a day by day collaboration with Wordsworthian vitality and the slow grace of that poetic freedom."-Maureen Owen, author of American Rush. "Jeffrey Robinson's extraordinary book goes way past criticism 'as we know it,' to offer a reading-through (sometimes, in Cage's phrase, a writing-through) of Wordsworth & other arch Romantics. In the manner of a spiritual diary he sets out to talk - on a day to day basis & in the presence of [Wordsworth's] poems - of what he sees in them & often, beautifully, to transform or, as he says, deform them. More than that, as in his other recent work combining Romanticism & the experimental modernism to which it leads, Robinson brings Wordsworth into the present, makes of him not only his William Wordsworth but ours as well."-Jerome Rothenberg, author of Khurbn and A Paradise of Poets