Literary Criticism: People
Much of the criticism I have written concerns poets whose work I especially admire, live with, return to, think with, feel with, sing sometimes, and memorize. John Keats has been my favorite English poet for fifty years. I visited his grave this past autumn in Rome (see my forthcoming "Letter from Rome" in the Hudson Review) and thanks to Graham Fawcett's enterprise at organizing tours (and Sarah Glazer's kind invitation) I visited the two places on the Isle of Wight where he stayed in 1817 and 1819. I enjoyed reading Andrew Motion's biography Keats. My thoughts are also often shaped by lines and stanzas from the poems of Yeats, and one day I hope to visit Ireland.
Two contemporary poets I most admired were Maxine Kumin and Donald Davie, whom I came to know as friends. I have written at length about their work. Donald Davie died in 1995, but I remained friends with his wife Doreen, so it seems to me as if he disappeared, like her, only a few years ago. And like so many of her friends, family and admirers, I grieve for the loss of Maxine Kumin a year ago. I have also come to know Yves Bonnefoy and his wife Lucy Vines, since attending his course on Hugo and Baudelaire at Yale in 1977; over the years, I have enjoyed writing about his work and translating his poems. And I was happy to meet Anne Stevenson in Cambridge in 1997, and have been thinking and writing about her work ever since.
Other individual essays treat historical figures I treasure (Shakespeare, Marlowe, Robert Louis Stevenson, Housman) or mid- to late-twentieth century American, Canadian, Irish and British poets I have been happy to discover, mostly while reviewing for the Hudson Review, but also for the Sewanee Review, New England Review, Kenyon Review and the (now disappeared) Cumberland Poetry Review. Some of my thoughts on contemporary poets can also be found in my "omnibus reviews," which are listed on my curriculum vitae.
This work has resulted in the following publications:
- Beginning and End of the Snow. Bucknell University Press / Rowman & Littlefield, 2012. English translation of Yves Bonnefoy's book of poems Début et fin de la neige, with a new Preface by the author written for this volume and eight watercolors by Farhad Ostovani. Some of these translations appeared in the "translation issue" of The Hudson Review (Winter 2009); and some of them are included in a CD, Chansons de la Grande Neige, by composer Mirco De Stefani, produced by Rivoalto di Venezia (Italy). A portion of my essay "Song, Rain, Snow: Translating the Poetry of Yves Bonnefoy," in the same issue of The Hudson Review, serves as an Afterword.
- Telling the Barn Swallow: Poets on the Poetry of Maxine Kumin, E. Grosholz, ed., University Press of New England, 1996. This collection includes my essay "Maxine Kumin's Poetry of Metamorphosis."
- "Childhood and Vibrant Stasis in Olga Sedakova's Poetry," for Olga Sedakova: Poems, Philosophies, Points of Contention, eds. S. Sandler, M. Khotimsky, M. Krimmel, O. Novikov, forthcoming in both Russian and English. Supported by a grant from the Moscow Charitable Fund to Support Scholarship in Philosophy. Forthcoming.
- "Returning as a Barn Swallow: Maxine Kumin," one of a set of six short memoirs edited by Robin Becker, American Poetry Review, January/February 2015, pp.
- "Hanford, Gainesville, Rome: The Landscapes of Debora Greger," Sewanee Review, Vol. CXXII, No. 1 (Winter 2014), pp. 75-89.
- "The Poetry of Leo Connellan," Fair Warning: Leo Connellan and His Poetry, S. Murphy and M. Nelson, eds., Printed Matter Press, 2011, pp. 83-6.
- "The Poetry of Memory," Aspects of Robinson: Homage to Weldon Kees, C. Buckley and C. Howell, eds., The Backwaters Press, 2011, pp. 60-2.
- "Compacting Time: Anne Stevenson's Poems of Memory," Hudson Review, Vol. LXII, No. 3 (Autumn 2009), pp. 405-416. Reprinted as a revised and expanded version in Voyages over Voices: Critical Essays on Anne Stevenson, A. Leighton, ed., University of Liverpool Press, 2010, pp. 151-163.
- "The Modern Essay, Robert Louis Stevenson, and the Hudson Review," PN Review 195 (2010), pp. 30-33.
- "Song, Rain, Snow: Translating the Poetry of Yves Bonnefoy," an essay, along with ten translations of poems by Bonnefoy, Hudson Review, Vol. LXI, No. 4 (Winter 2009), pp. 618-642. Some of these translations appear in a CD booklet of musical settings of the sequence La Grande Neige, composed by Mirco De Stefani, Rivoalto de Venezia, 2009.
- "Frederick Morgan's New York Suite in Poems for Paula," Sewanee Review, Vol. CIX, No. 1 (Winter 2001), 129-34.
- "The Poetry of Anne Stevenson," Michigan Quarterly Review, Vol. XL, No. 4 (Fall 2001), 727-38. Reprinted in The Way You Say the World: A Celebration for Anne Stevenson, John Lucas and Matt Simpson, eds., Shoestring Press, 2003.
- " 'Huge Cloudy Figures of a High Romance': Shadows, Sensation, and the Infinite in the Poetry of John Keats," Hudson Review, Vol. 53, No. 4 (Winter 2001), pp. 599-606.
- "Mrs. Thurston's Neighborhood: A Sense of Place in the Poetry of Mona Van Duyn," Discovery and Reminiscence: Essays on the Poetry of Mona Van Duyn, Michael Burns, ed., University of Arkansas Press, 1998, pp. 47-61.
- "The Valsaintes Poems of Yves Bonnefoy," Mary Ann Caws, ed., special issue of L'Esprit Créateur, Vol. XXXVI, No. 3 (Fall 1996), pp. 52-64.
- "Distortion, Explosion, Embrace: The Poetry of Alice Fulton," Michigan Quarterly Review, Vol. 34, No. 2 (Spring 1995), pp. 213-29.
- "Roald Hoffmann's Praise of Synthetic Beauty," Studies in American Jewish Literature, Vol. 9, No. 2, Fall 1990, pp. 224-7.
- "The Insufficiency of Lyric and the Richness of Poetry," Cumberland Poetry Review, special issue on Donald Davie, Vol. 8, No. 1, Fall 1988, pp. 5-10.
- "Rationalist, Empiricist: The Poetry of Julia Randall and Josephine Miles," Cumberland Poetry Review, Vol. VI, No. 1 (Fall 1986), pp. 76‑97.
- "Milosz and the Moral Authority of Poetry," The Hudson Review, Vol. 39, No. 2, Summer 1986, pp. 251‑70. Reprinted in Conversant Essays: Contemporary Poets on Poetry, James McCorkle, ed., Wayne State University Press, 1990, pp. 65-78.
- "Form, Flux and Pattern: The Poetry of Dorothy Roberts," Cumberland Poetry Review, Vol. 4, No. 2, Spring 1985, pp. 22‑34.
- "Angels, Language and the Imagination: A Reconsideration of Rilke's Poetry," Hudson Review, Vol. 35, No. 3,
- "Echoes of Romanticism: New English Poetry," review essay of seven books of British poetry, Hudson Review, Vol. LXIV, No. 2 (Summer 2011), pp. 341-51.
- "Thick on Severn Snow the Leaves," review essay of The Letters of A. E. Housman, 2 vols. (Oxford University Press, 2007), Hudson Review, Vol. LX, No. 4 (Winter 2008), pp. 691-99.
- "Poetry and Painting: Two Exhibitions in Honor of Yves Bonnefoy," review of two art exhibits, Hudson Review, Vol. LVIII, No. 4 (Winter 2006), pp. 660-66.
And I have given the following presentations on these topics:
- "Formal Strategies in Julia Randall's Poetry of Living Stasis," Bridges 2015, Washington D.C., August 2015.
- "Stasis as a Formal Strategy in the Poetry of Ruth Fainlight," Writing the Rockies, Gunnison, Co., August 2015.
- "Poetry and Science," with Ruth Padel and Lavinia Greenlaw, Upper Wimpole Street Literary Salon, London, March 2015.
- "Translating Bonnefoy and Sedakova," Panel on Poets Translation Poets, West Chester University Poetry Conference, June 2014.
- "Remembering Maxine Kumin," Poets of New England Poetry Tour, May 2014.
- "Translating the Poetry of Yves Bonnefoy," Panel and Workshop on Translation, Poetry Translation Conference, Centre College, Danville, Kentucky, April 2014.
- "Writing and Drawing in Series: Yves Bonnefy's Snow and Summer Nights and Farhad Ostovani's Horizons and Irises," Signature du Livre Farhad Ostovani, Musée Jenisch, Vevey, Switzerland, March 2014.
- "The Uses of Spondaic Rhythms in the Poetry of Yeats and Pound," Critical Seminar on "Understanding the Expressive Purposes of Rhythm: Meters, Measures, Free Verse," West Chester University Poetry Conference, June 2013.
- "Hanford, Gainesville, Rome: The Landscapes of Debora Greger," Aiken Taylor Award Lecture, Sewanee Review, University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee, March 2013.
- "Golden Slippers: Space, Time and Poetic Form in the Poetry of Eleanor Wilner and W. S. Di Piero," Third Annual Symposium on Poetry Criticism, Writing the Rockies, Western State College, Gunnison, Colorado, July 2012.
- A twelve hour lecture series, in French, on "Forme symbolique et parole efficace: Beauvoir et Colette, Rilke, Yves Bonnefoy, Anne Stevenson," University of Paris Nanterre – Paris 10, May 2010.
- "The Modern Essay, Robert Louis Stevenson, and the Hudson Review," Symposium "In Praise of the Essay: Practice and Form," English Department, Fordham University, and Welcome Table Press, April 2010.
- "Reflections on Voice and Character: Marlowe's Doctor Faustus and Shakespeare's Othello," Conference ‘Autour de Stanley Cavell,' University of Paris X (Nanterre), November 2007.
- "Women, Poetry and The Hudson Review," Conference on The Hudson Review, Princeton University, November 2007.
- "The Problem of Character in Shakespeare's Tempest and The Winter's Tale," University of Paris X (Nanterre), May 2007.
- "Translating Yves Bonnefoy," Hudson Review Symposium on Translation, New York, April 2007.
- "The Poetry of Julia Randall," Conference on "Exploring Form and Narrative," West Chester University, June 2006.
- "The Poetry of Anne Stevenson," and "The New York Poems in Frederick Morgan's Poems for Paula," Conference on Exploring Form and Narrative, West Chester University, June 2000.