The essays and commentaries collected in Where the Wanting Leads Us celebrate the poetry and critical thought of Norman Finkelstein. Taken together they offer an introduction to the work of a writer who has for over forty years shaped the discourse on modern and contemporary poetics. Unmoved by the prospect of creative destruction, Finkelstein, a consummate student of Robert Duncan, stages a poetry of derivation, imbued with the deferential nuance of the weary savant. In serial poems, sounded meditations and citational inscriptions, one finds a poetics of intertextual encounter, where what awaits the reader is another reader looking back at them, with hands outstretched, commencing a séance for the spirit of enlightenment.
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Norman Finkelstein is the inheritor of an aesthetics and ethics whose collective force, in American poetry and poetics, has been considerable, in part because of what he has written.
With the publication of the three volumes of the serial poem Track around the turn of the millennium, Norman Finkelstein emerged as a major American poet, a figure to be discussed in company with such important writers of an earlier generation as Michael Palmer, Susan Howe, Ed Roberson, and Lyn Hejinian.
Finkelstein’s poetry alternates between a romantic’s sensibility toward the sublime and an experimental writer’s sense of obstruction and limit.