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.
Koyashi Issa (1763-1827), long considered amoung Japan’s four greatest haiku poets (along with Basho, Buson, and Shiki) is probably the best loved. This collection of more than 360 haiku, arranged seasonally and many rendered into English for the first time, attempts to reveal the full range of the poet’s extraordinary life as if it were concentrated within a year.
Yves Bonnefoy is probably the most prominent figure in the generation of French poets who came into public view following World War II. Dedicated to poetry more as a means of spiritual illumination than as a technique for creating artistic monuments, he uses what he conceives to be the brokenness and poverty of language to enable us to glimpse a wholeness lacking in our contemporary world.
Does the artist have a responsibility to mirror the conflicts and problems of society in his or her work? Perhaps more than most, the Irish poet, Seamus Heaney, has been faced with this question. Living in Belfast since 1957, Heaney decided to leave Northern Ireland altogether in 1972, his residency there spanning fifteen years of social upheaval and violence.
Although Alan Swallow's work on behalf of other poets has tended to overshadow his work as a poet, the reputation of his poems has been upon the ascendancy. This volume, a “selected” one, runs the gamut of Swallow's themes. John Holmes reviewed in The New York Times, speaking of “love and compassion warming the face of the carving.” The volume was published in a beautiful limited edition by Carroll Coleman's The Prairie Press.
The first of this new collection’s three parts ranges very widely, from poems of childhood-his own, his children’s, and his grandchild’s-to poems of keen social and political awareness, and on to pieces about his neighbors, about growing more firmly and deeply into a personal place.
Although some critics have identified two phases in the poetry of James Wright and have isolated particulars of his movement from traditional to more experimental forms, few have noted also the elements of constancy in the evolution of his poetry.
Ordinary, everday, homely. These are words that come to mind to describe the dimension Hollis Summers’ poems live in. But they are inadequate words, and his are deceptively simple poems. They speak little, and quietly, but they record, in the silences they create, a desperate, melancholy magic about the surfaces and trivial events of our days. So we are led to discover, and assent, to all these tonal perceptions as the true domestic furniture of our inner lives.
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.
Anna Akhmatova (1889–1966) was part of that magnificent and in many ways tragic generation of Russian artists which came to first maturity before 1917, and which then had to come to terms with official discouragement and often persecution. As D.M. Thomas points out in his introduction, practically none of her poetry was published between 1923 and 1940. Her poetic range was wide, from the transparent anonymity of “Requiem” to the symphonic complexity of “Poem without a Hero.”
Lucien Stryk’s poetry is made of simple things—frost on a windowpane at morning, ducks moving across a pond, a neighbor’s fuss over his lawn—set into language that is at once direct and powerful. Years of translating Zen poems and religious texts have helped give Stryk a special sense of the particular, a feel for those details which, because they are so much a part of our lives, seem to define us.
Northern Summer is a representative selection from John Matthias’s previous books, together with a group of poems written since 1980. Robert Duncan wrote of his first book, Bucyrus, that in part “Matthias is a Goliard – one of those wandering souls out of a dark age in our own time.”
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.