New article at Philological Quarterly

Philological Quarterly 98.4 (2019) has graciously published my discussion of Prynne’s commentaries. The essay is a bit cramped, but contains things about philology, commentary, and tries to tease out some theoretical convictions lurking behind Prynne’s adaptation of that form. Here’s an excerpt:

Such commentaries represent a renovation of commentary as critical practice in English studies. Neither their interdisciplinarity nor their density is unique; critics as different as Erich Auerbach, Giorgio Agamben, Helen Vendler, and Jacques Derrida have shown what can be done with and through commentary. But Prynne’s commentary is of an extreme kind: a radicalized version of close reading that frames the poem as a locus of convergent and contradictory tendencies whose sedimentation supersedes both author and reader. Despite the brilliant adumbrations in the margins, the commentary retains its marginality by making the poem into a curriculum. Never has the aesthetic autonomy of the single poem been so challenged than by so intensely focusing on a single poem.

Here’s the full article.

Old Biz Orders

This book collects poetic work written between 2014 and 2018, including Story OneThe Meritocrat, and The Last Shyness. It includes a new sequence, as well: the titular Old Business.

From the editors:

The poetry of Ryan Dobran begins in a congenial, observational mode and crystallizes swiftly into an engrossing lattice of voice and affect, a prismatic language that pivots unassumingly through shades of the quotidian and the disenchanted, the earnest and the circumspect, the ingenuous and the vatic. It is a recognizably contemporary poetry: familiar discourses and lifeworlds made uncanny by an exacting realism, conscientious of the creaturely and all-too-embodied travails of a rapidly immaterializing modernity, persistently shot through with fleeting glimpses of those distributed, elusively disciplinary forces—of law, finance, technology—that everywhere impinge locally and yet evade global apprehension. At the same time, there is yet something about Dobran’s clear-eyed view out onto the actual existing world that bestows a kind of proleptic clarity on the Skinner box of the present: the poetic defamiliarization at play is not the techno-stunned alienation of modernism but something older and more stoic, comic, or forgiving, not didactic and yet in its composure quietly instructive.

Order from Golias Books directly. Or, if you wish, from SPD (available soon).