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*A New English Grammar

*A New English Grammar

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Jeff Dolven

The poems in *A New English Grammar begin from the bad sentences in traditional grammar, the ones marked with an asterisk in the handbooks. They are experiments in making a new language where the counterexample—*he had had gone, *we’ve got any milk, *he was recognizing her—can be exemplary, and therefore also experiments in imagining new worlds. Each poem is accompanied by an exacting, authoritative, intermittently slant facing-page explanation of the rules it breaks. A theory of poetry as the confusion of mistake and premise develops from the conversation between them. No book can hope to reform all the systematic constraints on English usage, nor to redeem all the foreclosed possibilities of syntax and idiom, but this one makes a start.

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