Best known as one of the great short story writers of the twentieth century, Raymond Carver also published several volumes of poetry and considered himself as much a poet as a fiction writer. Sandra Lee Kleppe combines comparative analysis with an in-depth examination of Carver’s poems, making a case for the quality of Carver’s poetic output and showing the central role Carver’s pursuit of poetry played in his career as a writer. Carver constructed his own organic literary system of 'autopoetics,' a concept connected to a paradigm shift in our understanding of the inter-relatedness of biological and cultural systems. This idea is seen as informing Carver’s entire production, and a distinguishing feature of Kleppe’s book is its contextualization of Carver’s poetry within the complex literary and scientific systems that influenced his development as a writer. Kleppe addresses the common themes and intertextual links between Carver’s poetry and short story careers, situates Carver’s poetry within the love poem tradition, explores the connections between neurology and poetic memories, and examines Carver’s use of the elegy genre within the context of his terminal illness. Tellingly, Carver’s poetry, which has aroused slight interest among literary scholars, is frequently taught to medical students. This testimony to the interdisciplinary implications of Carver’s work suggests the appropriateness of Kleppe’s culminating discussion of Carver’s work as a bridge between the fields of literature and medicine.
Sandra Lee Kleppe is Professor of English at Hedmark University College, Norway.
’Sandra Kleppe understands Carver's poems and the man who wrote them; she illuminates his work with deft, pertinent knowledge of literary theory and poetry.’ Carol Sklenicka, author of Raymond Carver: A Writer's Life