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Talking with Poets
     

Talking with Poets

by Harry Thomas
 

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The five interviews in this book were conducted by students in “The Art of Poetry,” a course that Harry Thomas taught for several years. The students’ depth of knowledge and keenness of insight into the poets’ work is an affirmation of American education. The poets respond to the students with a frankness and feeling of fraternity that

Overview

The five interviews in this book were conducted by students in “The Art of Poetry,” a course that Harry Thomas taught for several years. The students’ depth of knowledge and keenness of insight into the poets’ work is an affirmation of American education. The poets respond to the students with a frankness and feeling of fraternity that mounts at times to a sort of communion.

The poets take up a great range of matters in the interviews the nature of artistic creation, the varieties and difficulties of poetic translation, poetry and politics, religion, popular culture, the contemporary readership for poetry, and the experience of living as a poet in a country not your own. They speak with familiarity and enthusiasm of a number of writers, including Eliot, Joyce, Rilke, Brodsky, Pound, Ovid, Dante, Ralegh, Wordsworth, Keats, Mandelstam, and Wilde. One of the delights of reading these interviews is to observe the poets responding to the same matter for instance, Seamus Heaney speaking of Robert Pinsky’s translation of Czeslaw Milosz’s great poem, “The World,” and Robert Pinsky speaking at length of Seamus Heaney’s essay, in The Government of the Tongue, on Pinsky’s translation. This is an intimate look into the minds of five of our most celebrated contemporary poets and an invigorating meditation on some of our most human concerns.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This volume offers interviews with five notable poets, all stemming from a course called "The Art of Poetry" taught by editor Thomas, who also heads up the publisher's new Handsel imprint. The interviews with Robert Pinsky, Seamus Heaney, Philip Levine, and David Ferry were conducted by Thomas's students, while the Michael Hoffman interview was conducted by Thomas, a colleague, and two students. Though the Hoffman interview focuses on important issues in the poet's writing, it lacks the energy that comes through the transcripts of the other interviews. The students prepared for their interviews by thoroughly familiarizing themselves with each poet's works, and it shows. The interviews, which cover important literary themes and writing techniques, are wonderful reading because of the students' excitement, to which the poets responded with enthusiasm and openness. Although a brief summary of each poet's education, teaching, and publishing background is provided, there is little in the way of an introduction, which makes it difficult to understand the decision to reprint the interviews here. (The Pinsky, Levine, and Ferry interviews were all previously published in Tri-Quarterly.) Still, this inexpensive volume provides good insight into the work of these poets and is recommended for modern poetry collections.-Paolina Taglienti, New York

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781590510957
Publisher:
Other Press, LLC
Publication date:
04/28/2002
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
144
Product dimensions:
5.22(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.50(d)

Meet the Author

Harry Thomas edited Selected Poems of Thomas Hardy (Penguin, 1993) and Talking With Poets (Handsel Books, 2004). He lives in Watertown, Massachusetts.

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