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Useless Virtues: Poems

4.27  ·  Rating Details ·  15 Ratings  ·  3 Reviews
Useless Virtues, T. R. Hummer's seventh book of poetry, is a wide-ranging series of forays into metaphysical territory. Its presiding inquiry concerns the dependency of our consciousness and our spirit on the untrustworthy powers of language. How often and how deeply is our faith -- in words, if not in gods -- misplaced, destructive, glorious, redemptive? How can we know? ...more
Paperback, 80 pages
Published September 1st 2001 by Louisiana State University Press
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Jun 07, 2010 Steve rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
With his collection's title, Useless Virtues, T.R. Hummer immediately signals to the reader that his poetic landscape is paradox and anxiety. However, Hummer's collection is not another catalogue of ironies — though they do exist — but rather a platform for fierce questioning by the poet. The questions may be unanswerable, but they are always posed with intelligence, and often, severity.

In the collection's opening and title poem, the author explores suffering and the Book of Job. The examinat
Patricia Murphy
May 24, 2013 Patricia Murphy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
I really enjoyed this collection--and in fact, there were a lot of poems here that I studied specifically to learn how to break some of my own bad habits as a poet. There were a lot of really wonderful word combinations and exciting turns. I like the characters here too--a welcome reprieve from the I's and You's of much contemporary American poetry. Here are some of my favorite lines:

"He zips himself, and there is the sound
of the body bag in it."

"The boy
looks out into the contusion
Of the gath
Nathan Hilkert
Sep 16, 2007 Nathan Hilkert rated it liked it
Formally brilliant poems; outside of Charles Wright, Hummer probably has the best grasp on the line in contemporary verse, at least, as far as I've read. Hummer is also ambitious in subject matter-- the central long poem in this book grapples with Heiddegger's philosophical project, folding it into Hummer's account of his own father's experience during WWII. The two are intimately connected; remember that Heiddegger, in such vogue in the academy today, was a dedicated Nazi.
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