Crossing Unmarked Snow: Further Views on the Writer's Vocation

Overview


"It is this impulse to change the quality of experience that I recognize as central to creation. . . . Out of all that could be done, you choose one thing. What that one thing is, nothing else can tell you--you come at it over unmarked snow."

--William Stafford

A plain-spoken but eminently effective poet, the late William Stafford (1914-1993) has managed to shape part of the mainstream of American poetry by distancing himself from its trends ...

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Overview


"It is this impulse to change the quality of experience that I recognize as central to creation. . . . Out of all that could be done, you choose one thing. What that one thing is, nothing else can tell you--you come at it over unmarked snow."

--William Stafford

A plain-spoken but eminently effective poet, the late William Stafford (1914-1993) has managed to shape part of the mainstream of American poetry by distancing himself from its trends and politics. Though his work has always inspired controversy, he was widely admired by students and poetry lovers as well as his own peers. His fascination with the process of writing joined with his love of the land and his faith in the teaching power of nature to produce a unique poetic voice in the last third of the twentieth century.

Crossing Unmarked Snow continues--in the tradition of Stafford's well-loved collections Writing the Australian Crawl and You Must Revise Your Life-- collecting prose and poetry on the writer's profession. The book includes reviews and reflections on poets from Theodore Roethke to Carolyn Forche, from May Sarton to Philip Levine; conversations on the making of poems; and a selection of Stafford's own poetry. The book also includes a section on the art of teaching, featuring interviews, writing exercises, and essays on the writer's vocation.

William Stafford authored more than thirty-five books of poetry and prose during his lifetime, including the highly acclaimed Writing the Australian Crawl: Views on the Writer's Vocation and You Must Revise Your Life.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In a career that began at 46, Stafford (1914-1993) published 67 full-length collections and chapbooks of sharply observed verse, harvesting poems from his diligently carried out "Daily Writings." Rather than completely refining out the rougher work, this second attempt at selecting from Stafford's vast oeuvre quadruples the poem count of its predecessor, following the arc of a journeyman's career with its attendant excesses, successes and failures. Stafford, who after some itinerant years settled into a 30 year stay at Oregon's Lewis & Clark college and a stint as the state's poet laureate, rendered the objects that came his way in ordinary language. Most striking, in hindsight, is the easy range of his intentionally limited set of linguistic pipes: from simmering violence and its attendant atmospherics ("Travelling Through the Dark"; "Not in the Headlines") to religious naturalism ("I crossed the Sierras in my old Dodge/ letting the speedometer measure God's kindness,/ and slept in the wilderness on the hard ground.") to elegy ("At the Grave of My Brother") and social history and commentary ("Is This Feeling about the West Real?"; "Our City is Guarded by Automatic Rockets"). Other poems offer delicate philosophical introspection, as in the familiar "Bi-focal": "So, the world happens twice/ once what we see it as;/ second it legends itself/ deep, the way it is." Including 71 previously unpublished new poems, among them the poem Stafford wrote the day he died, this collection fully reacquaints us with a quiet, generous presence on the American poetic landscape. (Apr.) FYI: Down in My Heart, Stafford's WWII conscientious objector's diary, is due from Oregon State in April ($14.95 paper 120p ISBN 0-87071-430-9). The Univ. of Mich. recently publishe the essay collection Crossing Unmarked Snow: Further Views on the Winter's Vocation ($13.95 paper ISBN 0-472-06664-1; $39.50 Cloth -09664-8).
Library Journal
Stafford (1914-93) wrote over 35 books of poetry and prose (e.g., Even in Quiet Places, LJ 6/1/96). This book contains reflections on other poets and their work, a selection of Stafford's own work, and thoughts on the art of writing poetry, including a section on teaching. Poetry has increased in popularity of late, and this book would make an interesting accompaniment to a readers' group studying poetry. It helps readers get inside the writer's head and understand the process of poetry. The poem "An Afternoon in the Stacks" begins "Closing the book, I find I have left my head inside." Readers will have the same experience here.Lisa J. Cihlar, P.L., Wis.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780472066643
  • Publisher: University of Michigan Press
  • Publication date: 3/1/1998
  • Series: Poets on Poetry Series
  • Pages: 168
  • Sales rank: 785,965
  • Product dimensions: 5.36 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.55 (d)

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