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"What Is It Then between Us? marks the appearance of a bright new star in the poetry criticism firmament. Eric Murphy Selinger explores the complex history of American love poetry with panache, acumen, and scholarly precision. His readings of love poems by writers as diverse as Anne Bradstreet, Emily Dickinson, William Carlos Williams, and James Merrill are both nimble and persuasive. Itself written con amore, What Is It Then between Us? is a pioneering study of the imaginative ways our poets have recorded the ordeals and pleasures of love in their verse."--Herbert Leibowitz, Editor and Publisher, Parnassus: Poetry in ReviewTracing the solitude of the American self, the difference between idolatrous and companionate affection, and the dream of an "America of love," Eric Murphy Selinger shows how such concerns can shape a poet's most intimate decisions about genre and form. His lucid, elegant prose illuminates not only well-known love poets, including Emily Dickinson and William Carlos Williams, but also more unexpected figures, notably Wallace Stevens and Mina Loy. Like the poets he discusses, Selinger refuses to view love reductively. Rather, he takes the impulse to debunk love as part of his subject, whether it crops up in Puritan theology or contemporary literary theory. As he details Whitman's courtship of his readers, weighs the restorations of romance in H. D. and Ezra Pound, and demonstrates the bonds between poets as disparate as Robert Creeley and Robert Lowell, Selinger establishes love poetry as an essential American genre.