Jack Kerouac coined the phrased “Beat Generation” in 1948, the year Jack Foley opens his chronology of West Coast poetry, his rich syllabus of literary, political, and sociological texts that define a bygone era. Nineteen-forty-eight was seminal in other ways, as well, announcing the publication of Kinsey’s Sexual Behavior in the Human Male and Ezra Pound’s Pisan Cantos (New Directions). T.S. Eliot won the Nobel Prize, Denise Levertov emigrated to the U.S., and William Everson, whose The Residual Years was newly published, became Brother Antoninus after speaking with God. The following year, Marcel Duchamp lectured at the SF Museum of Art and the Hungary i opened. A new radio station, KPFA, began broadcasting Jarmie de Angulo’s Indian Tales. DH Lawrence came out with his Selected Poems (New Directions), with an introduction by Kenneth Rexroth, who took the metrics of Hopkins and Bridges to task, and dismissed the idealized, stilted ways of writing of old masters like Thomas Hardy and Matthew Arnold. “Sermonizing,” he called it.
Saddened to hear of the death of the poet Chana Bloch earlier this year, I have been rereading her poems, some of which I reviewed in Poet Lore (“Chana Bloch’s New World,” a review of Blood Honey). In remembrance of her and her poems, both original and translations, I am reposting an interview I did […]
Recently I had the pleasure of Walking the Poem–landscapes in Hardy, Dickinson, Ammons, and others–with the poet Hilde Weisart. We studied the landscapes of more contemporary poets, too, including Maurice Manning and Jane Kenyon. Our workshop, “Walking the Poem,” took place on the lovely, leafy green campus of Simon’s Rock College in Great Barrington. Here are […]
“Rhyme, along with other intelligible repetitions of sounds, is often the symptom or indication that the poem is quickening.” —Susan Stewart, The Poet’s Freedom Modernist poetry especially in America places a high value, perhaps the supreme value, on originality. Influenced by the highly expressive visual arts of early and mid-century, some poets began to […]
The Uneaten Carrots of Atonement By Diane Lockward Wind Publications, 2016 The Uneaten Carrots of Atonement begins with quotes from Byron (“The beginning of atonement is the sense of its necessity),” and, rather more unusually, from the Stanford Law Review (“. . . . carrots are often inefficient),” discussing the relative merits of incentives and […]
Why are some poems easier to learn by heart than others? It cannot be simply a matter of simplicity and regular rhythms and rhyming, for sometimes the latter are the hardest of all to master. I found this out a few years ago when I set out to learn Robert Lowell’s poem “Mr. Edward and […]