A Swallow Press Book
By E. L. Mayo
“E. L. Mayo’s poems shine with wit and wonder and intelligence that make them truly remarkable. Somber and amused in their vision, they are full of the fever and chill of our own humanity. These are important poems, and this collection should do much to restore to Mayo’s work the critical attention it justly deserves.”
“Mayo’s poems have an admirable clarity and lucidity and a determination to avoid clichés.”
E. L. Mayo was a quiet poet who embraced obscurity almost as a condition for his intellectual freedom. Still, a few discerning critics noticed. David Daiches has said that “Mayo’s poems … pretend to be simple prose–like utterances, whereas in fact the best of them contain an echoing poetic meaning which begins to relase itself a split second after we have read the words.”
John Ciardi heralds him as a major figure in the development of the modern poem: “Some of the poems of E. L. Mayo are happy evidence of how far poetry has come in a hundred years toward acquiring a wholly natural mastery of the commonest details of ordinary living… the sudden burgeoning of second meaning is the final distinction that separates poetry from prose… Mayo’s ability to carry the poem from obsevation to revelation is a notable accomplishment.”
David Ray says in his introduction to this collection “Mayo was a Metaphysical, and his poems gain in power because of the tension between the metaphysical, the occasionally obscure or at least demanding references, and the idiomatic. Mayo followed up on mysteries, sought ‘the true, secret name of the river,’ opened up ‘the mystery of better and of worse,’ negotiated with that angel whose ‘name was Lonliness.’ Poetry, he said, was a ‘mirror, showing/Clearer than to our shadowy sense, the glowing/And waning of a more than mortal creature.’ Just as ‘moles are very little/And worlds are very big,’ so the poet and his world must work and live together, unfairly matched. Out of such tensionan occasional miracle emerges, hence Mayo‘s ‘El Greco’ sonnet. Such poems must not be lost to future generations.”
Born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1904, E.L. Mayo attended schools in Malden, Massachusetts, then Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. For three years thereafter he held miscellaneous jobs as a brush salesman, clerk in a music store, waiter in the Mount Washington Hotel, wine steward in the Bahamas, etc. In 1929 he returned to study at the University of Minnesota. He was graduated magna cum laude in 1932, later returning to take his M.A. in 1936. He was a recipient of the Payne Prize (1932), the Blumenthal Prize (Poetry, Chicago, 1942), and the Amy Lowell Travelling Poetry Fellowship (1953–54). From 1947 Mayo taught at Drake University. He was professor of English and in 1961 received the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters from Iowa Wesleyan. Professor Mayo died in 1979. He is survived by his wife, Myra, and three children, and grandchildren. More info →
This book is not available for desk, examination, or review copy requests.
Permission to reprint
Permission to photocopy or include in a course pack via Copyright Clearance Center
To take the mess of life and make meaning from it is what all poets seek to do. For Will Wells, recipient of the thirteenth annual Hollis Summers Poetry Prize, this includes reaching across centuries and continents, into the minds and hearts of disparate individuals—Albert Einstein, Andrea Yates, the traveler from Porlock, Dante, or Holocaust survivors, including his own grandmother—to extract the personal value embedded there for him.
Ohio University Press published a first volume of Alain Bosquet’s work, Selected Poems, in 1973. Since then, the avant-garde and metaphysical poetry of Bosquet has become widely available to an international audience. Such eminent poets as Paul Celan, Vasko Popa, Octavio Paz, and Ismail Kadare have translated his work into German, Serbo-Croatian, Spanish, and Albanian.
John Updike has won a National Book Award and has earned both critical and popular acclaim. At the moment, his reputation rests largely on his novels, especially Rabbit, Run; The Centaur; Of the Farm; and The Coup. Of his many books, more than half are volumes of poems, stories, essays and reviews, and one play, yet the numerous critical books on Updike concentrate primarily on his long fiction with the result that over one half of his canon is often ignored.