A Swallow Press Book
“Schevill has a sense of the poet’s place in shaping the world through precise images that offer insight and humor…He elegantly blends seemingly dissimilar topics to produce works that shimmer with meaning.”
Joseph Levandoski, Library Journal
This second volume of James Schevill's collected poems is a companion to his remarkable ongoing sequence of poems, The American Fantasies, published by Swallow in 1983. This collection extends the scope of the poet's concern with American power and influences to Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. In these poems, Schevill reveals again the range of his lyrical and dramatic powers. As M.I. Rosenthal has written, Schevill has “a scholar's appetite for genuine knowledge, a playwright's feeling for vigorous detail illuminating personalities and situation, and a lyric poet's gift for catching emotional essences and nuances.”
Of The American Fantasies, Richard Eberhart has said that the collection “...has a Rushmore largeness, a compendious nature, straightforward presentations covering continent-cast experiences over a long period of time...formidable richness of true feelings in monumental unity of tone and strength...This book has a dazzling number of magnificent poems.”
Ambiguous Dancers of Fame restores to print most of Schevill's significant work that has been out of print and, combined with The American Fantasies, represents his life's work in poetry. Together, the two books illustrate James Schevill's lifelong pursuit of the unique problems of American identity.
James Schevill is a poet, playwright, and Emeritus Professor of English at Brown University. He has published numerous collections of poetry, many plays which have been produced in the United States, Canada, and Europe, and a novel based on his experiences in World War II. He lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife, Margot. More info →
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From a poetic career that spans more than half a century and that is still producing poems as fresh and honest as the first, comes James Schevill's New and Selected Poems, redefining the achievement of this uniquely American vision. Schevill's poetry, acclaimed and criticized, has been rigorously selected here by the poet himself down to the best and most representative of his significant output.
“Fantasies to me, as I wrote in an earlier 1983 edition of American Fantasies, are the active, visionary links between reality and imagination as my characters pursue their destinies. Although we pretend to be a pragmatic, materialistic country, our fantasies, once suppressed by tradition, peer increasingly through the media into our private and public behavior.
In this collection, Schevill brings together a series of poems that he has been working on since his first book was published in 1947. Diverse characters, both real and imaginary, reveal fantasies of American life and history. The dramatic voices of the characters contrast with the subjective voice of the narrator as he moves through time and space, remembering and anticipating.