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Whoever looks to a new book by James Dickey for further work in an established mode, or for mere novelty, is going to be disappointed. But those who seek instead a true widening of the horizons of meaning, coupled with a sure-handed mastery of the craft of poetry, will find this latest collection satisfying indeed.Here is a man who matches superb gifts with a truly subtle imagination, into whose depths he is courageously traveling--pioneering--in exploratory penetrations into areas of life that are too often evaded or denied. "The Firebombing," "Slave Quarters," "The Fiend"--these poems, with the others that comprise the present volume, show a mature and original poet at his finest.
'I don't believe I'd go there if I was you. What's the use of it?' 'Because it's there,' said Lewis. 'It's there, all right. If you git in there and can't get out, you're goin' to wish it wudn't. ' A group of middle-aged friends in search of the wilderness experience that has been missing from their big-city lives go canoeing one weekend. They pack all the usual survival gear - plus a banjo and a bow and arrow - and head off. Unskilled and naiuml;ve, they paddle downstream, enjoying the exercise and the gorgeous scenery. But something is in the air. There are small signs at first: their canoes hit sudden rapids, the river seems polluted with litter and bird feathers, and during the night their tent is punctured by the talons of a hunting owl. Then, the following day, after mooring their canoes by the woods, they are approached by two sinister men. One is carrying a shotgun and the other a knife. . . ;
A book of new poems by a major writer is an event. A book of new poems that marks a different, more powerful approach is cause for celebration. "What I looked for here," James Dickey tells us about The Eagle's Mile, "was a flicker of light 'from another direction,' and when I caught it - or thought I did - I followed where it went, for better or worse." In this new work, Dickey edges away from the narrative-based poems of his previous books and gives instead more primacy to the language in which he writes. His poetry gains flexibility, and his poetic power becomes even surer and more clearly expressed. "I have experimented," Dickey writes, "and look forward to experimenting more."
James Dickey: The Selected Poems is the first book to collect James Dickey's very best poems. Like many visionary poets of the ecstatic imagination, Dickey experimented in a wide variety of literary styles. This volume brings together the finest work from each of the periods in Dickey's extremely controversial career. For over three decades, until his death in 1997, Dickey was one of the nation's most important poets; these are the poems that brought him a popular readership and critical acclaim.
This volume represents, under one cover, the major work of the man whom critics and readers have designated the authentic poet of his American generation. For this collection, James Dickey has selected from his four published books all those poems that reflect his truest interests and his growth as an artist. He has added more than a score of new poems - in effect, a new book in themselves - that have not previously been published in volume form.Specifically, Poems 1957-1967 contains 15 of the 24 poems that were included in his first book, Into the Stone (1960); 25 of the 36 that made up Drowning With Others (1962); 22 of the 24 in Helmets (1964); the entire 22 in the National Book Award winner Buckdancer's Choice (1965); and, under the titles Sermon and Falling, the exciting new poems mentioned above. Seldom can the word "great" be used of the work of a contemporary in any art. But surely it applies to the poems of James Dickey.
For over three decades, James Dickey has been one of the nation's most important poets and a prominent man of letters. The Whole Motion collects his poetic oeuvre into a single volume: 235 poems from his first book, Into the Stone (1960), to The Eagle's Mile (1990), along with previously uncollected poems and unpublished "apprentice" works.
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