by Mark Scroggins
e poet Mark Scroggins has long been known as a leading authority on Louis Zukofsky, a prolific reviewer and critic, and the author of a series of authoritative essays on the history of twentieth-century poetry. The Mathematical Sublime presents a selection of Scroggins’s reviews, short essays, and blog posts about a dazzling variety of poets, poems, and poetry criticism: from Andrew Marvell to Rae Armantrout, Beowulf to Ronald Johnson, from the high modernists to Language Poetry and the contemporary avant-garde.
Scroggins explores the varieties of poetic form, the interplay of the personal and the political in poets’ and critics’ rhetoric, the role of race and gender in the writing and reception of poetry, and the sometimes maddening squabbles that make up the poetry “scene.” Along the way he writes about “hauntology” in popular music, occultism among the modernists, the relationship of poem-making and gardening, and his own sense of almost-paralyzed awe at the rich and overwhelming plenitude of poetry that has been written over the past century. In Robert Archambeau’s words, “Fluent, honest, and undeceivable, Mark Scroggins is just what a critic ought to be.”