“In the fall of 1970, at the New School in Greenwich Village, a new teacher posted a flyer on the wall,” begins Alexander Neubauer’s introduction to this remarkable book. “It read ‘Meet Poets and Poetry, with Pearl London and Guests.’” Few students responded. No one knew Pearl London, the daughter of M. Lincoln Schuster, cofounder of Simon & Schuster. But the seminar’s first guests turned out to be John Ashbery, Adrienne Rich, and Robert Creely. Soon W. S. Merwin followed, then Mark Strand and Galway Kinnell.
London invited poets to bring their drafts to class, to discuss their work in progress and the details of vision and revision that brought a poem to its final version. From Maxine Kumin in 1973 to Eamon Grennan in 1996, including Amy Clampitt, Marilyn Hacker, Paul Muldoon, Nobel laureate Derek Walcott, and U.S. poet laureates Robert Hass, Robert Pinsky, Louise Glück, and Charles Simic, the book follows an extraordinary range of poets as they create their poems and offers numerous illustrations of the original drafts, which bring their processes to light. With James Merrill, London discusses autobiography and subterfuge; with Galway Kinnell, his influential notion that the new nature poem must include the city and not exclude man; with June Jordan, “Poem in Honor of South African Women” and the question of political poetry and its uses. Published here for the first time, the conversations are intimate, funny, irreverent, and deeply revealing. Many of the drafts under discussion—Robert Hass’s “Meditation at Lagunitas,” Edward Hirsch’s “Wild Gratitude,” Robert Pinsky’s “The Want Bone”—turned into seminal works in the poets’ careers.
There has never been a gathering like Poetry in Person , which brings us a wealth of understanding and unparalleled access to poets and their drafts, unraveling how a great poem is actually made.
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of Suspense & Thrillers eBook: Poetry in Person|
|Release Date: 11-03-2010|
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|Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
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Poetry in Person
“If you can come,” she wrote each of them, “I would appreciate you sending me any notes jotted down on the back of an envelope, or work sheets of any sort, even doodles. This is a course concerned essentially with the making of the poem, with the work in progress as process— with both the vision and the revision. In a sense, the shaping spirit of the imagination is what it is all about.”
Poets accepted one after another, word spread, and for the next twenty-five years London’s classroom became know simply as “Works in Progress,” a coveted destination for Nobel laureates Walcott and Heaney, a string of eight U.S. poet laureates, double National Book Award winner Merrill, and eleven Pulitzer Prize winners. There were poets at the height of their careers—Rukeyser, Simic, Clampitt, and Olds for instance— and poets at the cusp of their emergence in letters, like Carson and Muldoon. They came to London’s door as she requested, with fresh manuscripts and sheaves of notes and drafts in hand, under-the-hood evidence of exactly “the vision and the revision” that provoked her attention.
Maybe for the poets ...