"T. R. Hummer is a splendid poet/editor/critic. He has an exceptional literary intelligence, and The Muse in the Machine is a book deep in the American grain. It should be essential reading for everyone who cares about the fate of literature in our troubled Republic."
—Edward Hirsch, President of the Guggenheim Foundation
In one of those statements of "poetic purpose" that goes hand in hand with a residency, guest editorship, or lecture tour, Hummer once wrote that "poetry inhabits and enunciates an incommensurable zone between individual and collective, between body and body politic, an area very ill-negotiated by most of us most of the time. Our culture, with its emphasis on the individual mind and body, teaches us very little about how even to think about the nature of this problem. . . . E pluribus unum is a smokescreen: what pluribus; what unum? And yet this phrase is an American mantra, as if it explained something." This is a quintessential Hummer moment: a writer has just given himself a good reason to quit. What Hummer knows must happen next is what The Muse in the Machine is all about.
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