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The appearance of The Best American Poetry every September is an eagerly awaited rite of fall -- as evidenced by soaring sales and terrific reviews. The popularity of the series is "ample proof that poetry is thriving"(The Orlando Sentinel),and this year's volume will dazzle and delight, instruct and inspire. Under the guiding vision of master poet John Hollander -- one of America's most erudite literary minds --The Best American Poetry 1998 spotlights the imaginative power and insight of our finest poets at the fin-de-siècle. Diverse in form and method, the poems display an unwavering nobility of expression, maintaining the uncompromising artistic standards essential to The Best American Poetry tradition as it enters its second decade. With a foreword by series editor David Lehman and with comments from the poets illuminating their work, The Best American Poetry 1998 will lead you on an exhilarating and inspiring literary adventure.
A glorious new collection from one of our most distinguished poets. Here are poems that explore the ways in which ordinary objects open doors to the more hidden, subconscious truths of our inner selves: a bird of "countless colors" calls to mind "the echo . . . / of an inner event / From my forgotten past"; a subway bee sting conjures up quick unlikely visits by the muses--a momentary awareness that is "as much of a / Gift from those nine sisters as / Is ever given."Other poems lay bare the imperfect nature of our memories: reality altered by our inevitably less accurate but perhaps "truer" recall of past events ("memory-- / As full of random holes as any / Uncleaned window is of spots / Of blur and dimming--begins at once / To interfere"). Still others examine the dramatic changes in perspective we undergo over the course of a lifetime as, in the poem "When We Went Up," John Hollander describes the varied responses he has to climbing the same mountain at different points in his life.In all of the poems Hollander illuminates the fluid nature of physical and emotional experience, the connections between the simple things we encounter every day and the ways in which the meaning we attribute to them shapes our lives. Like the harmonious coming together of bandstand instruments on a summer afternoon, he writes, most of what we come to know in the world is "A dying moment / Of lastingness thenceforth / Ever not to be."Throughout this thought-provoking collection, Hollander reveals the ways in which we are constantly creating unique worlds of our own, "a draft of light" of our own making, and how these worlds, in turn, continually shape our most basic identities and truest selves.From the Hardcover edition.
In a major review in The New Republic of John Hollander's two earlier books, Tesserae and Selected Poetry (both 1993), Vernon Shetley said, "John Hollander's poetry has shown a visionary power just often enough to secure him a place as one of the major figures of our moment." Figurehead, a lively, varied, and technically dazzling book, confirms the statement made by Henry Taylor in the Washington Times: "John Hollander revels in technical challenges of unusual severity and complexity, yet most of his poems also have the emotional heft of something worth pausing over and remembering." One of the most gifted of W. H. Auden's choices for the Yale Series of Younger Poets, Hollander has pursued the wide range and metrical brilliance of Auden's own poetry, so that this new book exhibits both a large compass of subject matter (from philosophical matters to personal narrative) and, as usual, some astonishing meditations on paintings--here, by Charles Sheeler, Rene Magritte, and Edward Hopper. By turns witty, touching, profound, mocking, ingenious, and always clever, Hollander's poems are a joy for the reader. He is a modern master.
rom one of the most brilliant and widely read of all American poets, a generous selection of lyrics, dramatic monologues, and narrative poems--all of them steeped in the wayward and isolated beauty of Frost's native New England. Includes his classics "Mending Wall, " "Birches, " and "The Road Not Taken, " as well as poems less famous but equally great.
In this deeply philosophical and highly inventive new collection, John Hollander, the distinguished author of numerous books of poetry, offers profound yet playful meditations on the reflective mind and on the words with which we come to know the world. In forms as varied as sonnets, songs, and ancient odes, he muses over the ways we use (and misuse) language as "we grasp the world by ear, by heart, by head / And keep it in a soft continuingness."Here, too, are striking verses about the passage of time as recorded by the movement of light and shadow across a surface, whether it be the face of a clock or the enclosed walls of a Hopper painting. Throughout, Hollander delights us with mirrors, palindromes, and strange and surprising reversals that keep the mind ever alert with the challenge "to make words be themselves, taking time out / From all the daily work of meaning, to / Make picture puzzles of what they're about." Donna Seaman has written of John Hollander, "His wise and robustly complex poems span the mind like stone aqueducts or canyon-crossing railroad bridges--awesome works of knowledge and craft, art and devotion." In this exciting new volume, Hollander shows once again the reach of his poetic imagination.From the Hardcover edition.
In his classic text, Rhyme's Reason, the distinguished poet and critic John Hollander surveys the schemes, patterns, and forms of English verse, illustrating each variation with an original and witty self-descriptive example.
"Perfection is a rare accomplishment, particularly in American poetry, and the perfection of much of Hollander's work makes it essential reading for anyone who genuinely cares for the craft of poetry. But in our fallen world we seem fated to value power of perfection, and John Hollander's poetry has shown a visionary power just often enough to secure him a place as one of the major figures of our moment."Vernon Shetley, The New Republic
John Hollander, poet and scholar, was a master whose work joined luminous learning and imaginative risk. This book, based on the unpublished Clark Lectures Hollander delivered in 1999 at Cambridge University, witnesses his power to shift the horizons of our thinking, as he traces the history of shadow in British and American poetry from the Renaissance to the end of the twentieth century. Shadow shows itself here in myriad literary identities, revealing its force as a way of seeing and a form of knowing, as material for fable and parable. Taking up a vast range of texts--from the Bible, Dante, Shakespeare, and Milton to Poe, Dickinson, Eliot, and Stevens--Hollander describes how metaphors of shadow influence our ideas of dreaming, desire, doubt, and death. These shadows of poetry and prose fiction point to unknown, often fearful domains of human experience, showing us concealed shapes of truth and possibility. Crucially, Hollander explores how shadows in poetic history become things with a strange substance and life of their own: they acquire the power to console, haunt, stalk, wander, threaten, command, and destroy. Shadow speaks, even sings, revealing to us the lost as much as the hidden self. An extraordinary blend of literary analysis and speculative thought, Hollander's account of the substance of shadow lays bare the substance of poetry itself.
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