In the caveat to this irreverent and hilarious satire, Clay Reynolds writes, “No poet writing today could be this lucky, this tragic, this infamous. Indeed, it wouldn’t be tolerated.” No, one will have to admit, it wouldn’t. Offered in the same vein as Jane Smiley’s Moo and Richard Russo’s Straight Man, Reynolds’s Ars Poetica explores the life of a modern-day Don Juan, a hedonistically ambitious poetaster of our own times, a self-styled Lothario, but, as the tragicomedy ultimately reveals, a man who ultimately discovers that he has more in common with Coleridge’s mariner than with any swashbuckling versifier of old.
At times a light-hearted romp through the wasteland world of contemporary creative writing where only the phony seem to survive and prosper, at times a vicious attack on the hypocrisy of political correctness and contemporary sexual mores, and at times a sordid slog through the back alleys of a single soul’s despair, Ars Poetica evolves as a parable of a passionate poet in a postmodern world, one fraught with the perils of pretense and one that offers meaningful achievement only at the price of the poetic soul.
CLAY REYNOLDS has written six previous novels, including The Vigil, Franklin’s Crossing (Pulitzer Prize entrant and Violet Crown winner) and Players and Monuments (Spur finalist and also a Violet Crown winner). His most recent book is The Tentmaker. A professional editor and consultant, Reynolds is author of more than seven hundred publications ranging from nonfiction books to short fiction to book reviews and scholarly articles. An NEA Fellow, he is a member of the Texas Institute of Letters and presently serves as professor and associate dean for arts and humanities at the University of Texas at Dallas.
What Readers Are Saying:
“In the grand tradition of raging misanthropic poets (from Aristophanes to Robert Frost), the protagonist of Ars Poetica is a character who spares no one from his pitiless scrutiny. In this masterfully told tale of an aging poet who finally turns his back on the system that he feels failed him, Clay Reynolds gives us a story to remember.” --George Garrett
“Clay Reynolds’ Ars Poetica kept me up to three A.M. two nights in a row as I raced through this hilarious satire of the academic world and the power of poetry to ruin a life and redeem it. The book also kept my wife up to three both nights because I kept laughing out loud and waking her up. And once she was awake, I read passages of the book to her so she could laugh with me.” --Andrew Hudgins
“In the title Ars Poetica, Clay Reynolds has taken irony to a new level of dignity and comic outrage, and the story—marvelously consistent in tone, as if we were hearing it in a stalled elevator— has the haunting feel of an unforgettable fairytale for adults. It’s a dark joy.” --Miller Williams