By Garrett Caples
Publication Date: May 1, 2010
ISBN# Pamphlet#1 (5.5x8.5 42pp)
The inaugural publication in Wave’s Pamphlet Series, Garrett Caples’ Quintessence of the Minor presents a comprehensive survey of neglected, oft-brilliant and oft-imperfect Symbolist poets, revealing—with acuity, erudition and blessed candor—an entire tradition of forgotten, though no less invaluable and invigorating, poets and poetry. Caples avers that to “write major poetry, the poet perhaps must resist the major, to find fault with what, at a given time, is held to be major poetry and propose another way...”.
Quintessence of the Minor is available directly from Wave Books, and from a small number of participating bookstores nationwide. Please see the Pamphlet Series page for more information on the Wave Books Pamphlet Series.
Quintessence of the Minor is smart and well-written; regardless of whether the subject-poet gets a couple sentences or a couple pages, Caples’ discussions are careful, nuanced, personal, and opinionated (including saying when he finds certain poetry “boring and misguided”). This all—the exploring, the reading, the comparing and weighing, the writing and revising—must have taken him years. Here’s a combination of erudition and initiative, in the service of poetry, that’s edifying and fun.
I adore [Caples’] prescription to read widely and even perversely; and his breezy style is engaging--despite the weighty title, the essay feels like some chunk of a great conversation you'd have over a couple of beers. And we need more poets weighing in on things the way he has here...
With a supply of thumbnail biographies that read like the most improbable fiction, and a leisurely but learned style, Caples makes the minor seem major.
Ed Park, The Poetry Foundation
Garrett Caples is the author of Power Ballads (Wave Books, 2016), Retrievals (2014), The Garrett Caples Reader (1999), Complications (2007), and Quintessence of the Minor (2010). He is the co-editor of The Collected Poems of Philip Lamantia (2013), Particulars of Place (2015) by Richard O. Moore, and Incidents of Travel in Poetry: New and Selected Poems (2016) by Frank Lima. He is an editor at City Lights Books and curates the Spotlight Poetry Series there. He was also a contributing writer to the San Francisco Bay Guardian. He has written articles and blogged for the Poetry Foundation and occasionally blogs for blogcitylights.com. He has a Ph.D. in English from the University of California, Berkeley, and lives in San Francisco.