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Donald Davie, 11 June 1992

In the Circumstances: About Poems and Poets 
by Peter Robinson.
Oxford, 260 pp., £35, May 1992, 0 19 811248 3
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... presiding presence; his poetry is the bar before which other poets –Auden and Eliot, Hardy and Robert Lowell and Browning. Pound and, yes, Hill – are brought to judgment. This is not overt. Robinson can’t, any more than the rest of us, come on like a latter-day Leavis, a fearlessly normative critic; instead, psychologists and moral philosophers ...

Ashamed of the Planet

Ian Hamilton, 2 March 2000

No Other Book: Selected Essays 
by Randall Jarrell, edited by Brad Leithauser.
HarperCollins, 376 pp., $27.50, June 1999, 0 06 118012 2
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Remembering Randall: A Memoir of Poet, Critic and Teacher Randall Jarrell 
by Mary von Schrader Jarrell.
HarperCollins, 173 pp., $22, June 1999, 0 06 118011 4
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... cut. The quotation ends with ‘What unfailing taste he possessed’ – full stop.) Jarrell, as Robert Lowell once observed, was actually more of a eulogist than a destroyer and it was in the realm of eulogy that his weakness for near-spluttering exaggeration was at its most off-putting. When Jarrell admired a writer, that writer had to be vaunted to ...

Slowly/Swiftly

Michael Hofmann: James Schuyler, 7 February 2002

Last Poems 
by James Schuyler.
Slow Dancer, 64 pp., £7.99, January 1999, 1 871033 51 9
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Alfred and Guinevere 
by James Schuyler.
NYRB, 141 pp., £7.99, June 2001, 0 940322 49 8
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... thing with poetry that it finds its own moment. The poets that have meant most to me – Lowell, Bishop, Schuyler – all, as it were, were rudely kept waiting by me. I had their books, or I already knew some poems of theirs, but there was no spark of transference. Then it happened, and our tepid prehistory was, quite literally, forgotten beyond a ...

Homage to Ezra Pound

C.K. Stead, 19 March 1981

The Poetic Achievement of Ezra Pound 
by Michael Alexander.
Faber, 247 pp., £7.95, April 1979, 0 571 10560 2
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Ezra Pound and the Pisan Cantos 
by Anthony Woodward.
Routledge, 128 pp., £7.95, April 1980, 0 7100 0372 2
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Ezra Pound and the Cantos: A Record of Struggle 
by Wendy Stallard Flory.
Yale, 321 pp., £12.60, July 1980, 0 300 02392 8
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Ezra Pound and His World 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Thames and Hudson, 127 pp., £5.95, February 1981, 0 500 13069 8
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End to Torment: A Memoir of Ezra Pound with Poems from Ezra Pound’s H.D. Book 
edited by Norman Holmes Pearson and Michael King.
Carcanet, 84 pp., £2.95, February 1980, 0 85635 318 3
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... In 1949 when a panel of his fellow poets (including T.S. Eliot, Robert Lowell, W.H. Auden and Allen Tate) awarded Ezra Pound the Bollingen Prize for The Pisan Cantos there was an immediate and angry public debate. The reaction is not surprising and might have been worse had the texts of Pound’s wartime broadcasts over Rome Radio been publicly available ...

Follow-the-Leader

Colm Tóibín: Bishop v. Lowell, 14 May 2009

Words in Air: The Complete Correspondence between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell 
edited by Thomas Travisano and Saskia Hamilton.
Faber, 875 pp., £40, November 2008, 978 0 571 24308 2
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... Robert Lowell wrote the poem ‘Water’ about being on the coast of Maine in the summer of 1948 with Elizabeth Bishop; he put it first in his collection For the Union Dead, which he published in 1964. He sent Bishop a draft of the poem in March 1962, explaining that it was ‘more romantic and grey than the whole truth, for all has been sunny between us ...

The Numinous Moose

Helen Vendler, 11 March 1993

Elizabeth Bishop: Life and the Memory of It 
by Brett Millier.
California, 602 pp., £18.50, April 1993, 0 520 07978 7
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... many devoted friends at Harvard (as Millier notes), ranging from Octavio Paz to William Alfred and Robert Fitzgerald, and in her writing courses found students whom she admired and liked, both male and female. She also found a new person to love, Alice Methfessel, the administrative assistant at Kirkland House (the student residence where Bishop was first ...

At the Centre Pompidou

Jeremy Harding: Beat Generation, 8 September 2016

... the Road’ (original typescript, 1951) Jack Kerouac, ‘The Slouch Hat’ (c.1960) John Cohen, ‘Robert Frank, Alfred Leslie, Gregory Corso’ (1959) Wallace Berman, Untitled (Allen Ginsberg, c.1960)PreviousNext These names belong to the original small group of friends who met in New York in the early 1940s. Within ten years Ginsberg had moved to San ...

Bananas Book

Eric Korn, 22 November 1979

Saturday Night Reader 
edited by Emma Tennant.
W.H. Allen, 246 pp., £5.95
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... is hard to uproot. Beverly Treasure? Chelsea Herbert? Lloriston Grant? Caroline Blackwood and Robert Lowell have a conversation about Ford Madox Ford? (Well, all right, but what’s it doing among ‘Traveller’s Tales’?)Chelsea Herbert is real too, and writes the best piece in the ‘Children in the City’ section: a funny, simple, and probably ...

Living on Apple Crumble

August Kleinzahler: James Schuyler, 17 November 2005

Just the Thing: Selected Letters of James Schuyler 1951-91 
edited by William Corbett.
Turtle Point, 470 pp., £13.99, May 2005, 1 885586 30 2
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... artist, to develop rather than possess innately). While Schuyler and his circle tolerated Auden, Robert Lowell and his reputation gave them fits. Schuyler would define his poetic project, at least in part, by opposing it to that of Lowell and the other gloomy campus darlings of the New Critics: New York poets, except ...

Anglo-Irish Occasions

Seamus Heaney, 5 May 1988

... the given life, where your possibilities seemed to be no more than the sum of your predicaments. Robert Frost called it ‘a momentary stay against confusion’ and also ‘a clarification’, and it is in this experience of the poem as a personal way of knowledge as well as a psychosomatic process that every poet’s reward must ultimately ...

Burn Down the Museum

Stephanie Burt: The Poetry of Frank Bidart, 6 November 2008

Watching the Spring Festival 
by Frank Bidart.
Farrar, Straus, 61 pp., $25, April 2008, 978 0 374 28603 3
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... unusual layout and typography, and for his close association with older poets, especially with Robert Lowell (he co-edited Lowell’s posthumous Collected Poems). Bidart and his poems indeed have all these qualities, but they are not the best reasons to read his poetry. That poetry – especially in his last few ...

Diary

Mary-Kay Wilmers: Karl Miller Remembered, 9 October 2014

... forgiven for that. Karl was much given to leaving – ‘more of a born leaver’, he said of Robert Lowell, whose wife had made the mistake of calling him ‘a born joiner’. He started at the Treasury, had a short stint in television; became literary editor first of the Spectator, then the Statesman; joined the Listener as editor in 1967 and the ...

The Heart’s Cause

Michael Wood, 9 February 1995

The Beginning of the Journey: The Marriage of Diana and Lionel Trilling 
by Diana Trilling.
Harcourt Brace, 442 pp., $24.95, May 1994, 0 15 111685 7
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... Slugging it out with Diana Trilling in the pages of Commentary, Robert Lowell remarked: ‘Controversy is bad for the mind and worse for the heart.’ Mrs Trilling, for all the world like Dorothea Brooke or some other 19th-century heroine of the strenuously examined life, replied: ‘I have never thought controversy bad for either the mind or the heart ...

Entitlement

Jenny Diski: Caroline Blackwood, 18 October 2001

Dangerous Muse: A Life of Caroline Blackwood 
by Nancy Schoenberger.
Weidenfeld, 336 pp., £20, June 2001, 0 297 84101 7
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... alone in their London flat without any money. (She was trying to get away from her third husband, Robert Lowell, who was mad at the time.) It is taken as inevitable that patterns are inevitably repeated. Blackwood becomes a lifelong drunk given to hysterical and unsuccessful relationships, and it is no surprise that Natalya dies of a heroin overdose at ...

Sad Stories

Adam Begley, 5 January 1989

Capote: A Biography 
by Gerald Clarke.
Hamish Hamilton, 632 pp., £16.95, July 1988, 0 241 12549 9
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Jean Stafford: A Biography 
by David Roberts.
Chatto, 494 pp., £16.95, August 1988, 0 7011 3010 5
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... as a brilliant writer faded with the years; sadly, she is now remembered as much for having been Robert Lowell’s first wife as for her novels and short stories. It is testimony to Capote’s uncanny knack for self-promotion that at the time of the Life feature, he had produced only a handful of short stories: his first novel, Other Voices, Other ...

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