Against the Grain: The Literary Life of a Poet

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Literary Nonfiction. Memoir. Poetry History & Criticism. Foreword by Garrison Keillor. In this literary memoir, Reed Whittemore—a self-considered bourgeois anarchist—gives us marvelous glimpses into his wide-ranging life as poet, little magazine editor, critic and essayist, journalist, biographer, and teacher. Writing in third person about his alter ego R, Whittemore looks back in a conversational, self-deprecating, voice that in his poetry and prose became recognizably his own. "Brilliant and original ...
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Overview


Literary Nonfiction. Memoir. Poetry History & Criticism. Foreword by Garrison Keillor. In this literary memoir, Reed Whittemore—a self-considered bourgeois anarchist—gives us marvelous glimpses into his wide-ranging life as poet, little magazine editor, critic and essayist, journalist, biographer, and teacher. Writing in third person about his alter ego R, Whittemore looks back in a conversational, self-deprecating, voice that in his poetry and prose became recognizably his own. "Brilliant and original poet," wrote Victor Navasky, "provcoateur, literary lobbyist, anti-bureaucratic cultural bureaucrat, interdisciplinarian, his way of deepening, as distinguished from promoting, democracy has been to carry on its conversation in exemplary tropes. Our country and our culture are the better for it."

"Reed Whittemore owns the only sort of immortality that matters to a writer which is to have written things that people remember years later."—Garrison Keillor

"For what a long time Reed Whitmore has been a central figure in our national letters—his whole career has been one brave protest against dullness and stodginess."—X. J. Kennedy

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

Whittemore has enjoyed a long and illustrious career in the literary arts. Author of 20 books in various genres, he here recounts the milestones in a reticent, very gentlemanly way. While at Yale in the late 1930s, Whittemore founded Furioso, a poetry journal heavily influenced by Ezra Pound that championed modernist poetry early on. After serving in World War II, he was the consultant in poetry to the Library of Congress, taught in Minnesota and Maryland, worked as a literary editor and reviewer for the New Republic, and took on writing multiple books. During his career as an editor, publisher, and poet, he's spent time with a list of impressive writers. Instead of writing a first-person narrative, the author opts to write in the third person using an alter ego "R." Using an alter ego is, at best, coy and, at worst, annoying, which makes a potentially interesting and worthy subject dull and duller. Recommended for academic libraries as interest warrants.
—Pam Kingsbury

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781928755098
  • Publisher: Dryad Press
  • Publication date: 10/22/2007
  • Pages: 360
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author


Reed Whittemore (1919-2012), prolific poet and essayist, teacher, Poetry Consultant to the Library of Congress (now U.S. Poet Laureate), began his literary life in the late 1930s when he and Yale roommate James Angleton founded Furioso whose pages carried work by Ezra Pound, Marianne Moore, e. e. cummings, among others. His storied career included four wartime years in North Africa and Europe, as well as a second run of Furioso, which Victor Navasky called the ne plus ultra of little mags. While teaching at Carleton College, Whittemore founded The Carleton Miscellany, then came to Washington in 1966. He went on to serve as literary editor of The New Republic and teach at the University of Maryland, all the while publishing the National Book Award nominated poetry and essays, a biography of Willliam Carlos Williams, and—after his retirement from Maryland—several books on, even restarting Delos, a journal of world literature and translation.
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