Where the Angels Come Toward Us: Selected Essays, Reviews & Interviews

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Nonfiction. Here, for the first time, David St. John has selected from essays and reviews written over the course of his career - about many of the major figures of our time: W.S. Merwin, Philip Levine, Mark Strand, Charles Wright, Donald Hall, Marvin Bell, Donald Justice, Jorie Graham, and dozens of others - and brought them together with six uncompromising and refreshingly candid interviews about the craft of poetry and the state of poetry today.

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Overview

Nonfiction. Here, for the first time, David St. John has selected from essays and reviews written over the course of his career - about many of the major figures of our time: W.S. Merwin, Philip Levine, Mark Strand, Charles Wright, Donald Hall, Marvin Bell, Donald Justice, Jorie Graham, and dozens of others - and brought them together with six uncompromising and refreshingly candid interviews about the craft of poetry and the state of poetry today.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This disjointed collection contains St. John's (Hush, The Shore) writings on the work of other poets, interviews with him about his own poetry and one beautiful, imagistic letter about an afternoon in Rome. The essays and reviews about work by Norman Dubie, Marvin Bell, Donald Hall and others are certainly thoughtful, but they would be more at home in collections of their respective subjects than here, where they rarely go beyond worthy criticism to become really good reading. The shorter selections, which usually concentrate on a single poem, are better: intelligently focused, they often offer some softening personal reminiscences. In a meditation on Pablo Neruda's ``Walking Around,'' St. John recalls his first encounter with the poem, in a poetry class taught by Philip Levine. That simple letter about Rome is stunning but seems out of place here, leaving only a longing for less academic material. Instead, what comes next are interviews with St. John in various literary magazines. Read together, they seem repetitious (as when St. John explains several times that while his grandfather was an English professor, his father, an athletic coach, raised him to be a tennis player). As Suzanne Lumis astutely points out in an interview that first appeared in the Denver Quarterly, when asked to discuss current poets, St. John rarely mentions women, aside from an occasional reference to Adrienne Rich (then, in a some-of-my-best-friends-are aside, he insists, ``I think that the best writing in America is being done by young women. There's no question about it''). This is for readers already wrapped up in the insular world of high literature, a world St. John describes as ``fueled by rumor, by endless and often malicious gossip.'' (Aug.)
Booknews
Finely reasoned and elegantly written essays and reviews on many major contemporary poets, produced over the course of poet St. John's career, along with six interviews on the craft and current state of poetry. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781877727467
  • Publisher: White Pine Press
  • Publication date: 6/1/1995
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Table of Contents

I Essays & Reviews
A Generous Salvation - Norman Dubie 17
Oxygen and Small Frictions - Marvin Bell 32
Country Music - Charles Wright 39
Or Yours To Keep - Pamela Stewart 48
The Happy Man - Donald Hall 55
Ancient Eyes - Donald Hall 62
Raised Voices in the Choir: 1981, 1982, & 1983 Poetry Selections 66
1981: Stern, Burkard, Bell, Wood, Levis, Spires, Wright, Levine, Neruda, Moss
1982: Gunn, Hongo, Gibson, Halpern, Gilbert, Schnackenberg, Smith, Johnson, Grossman
1983: Merwin, Bidart, Hillman, Ruark, Vogelsang, Graham, Williams
"Two In Twilight" - Eugenio Montale 98
"Seele im Raum" - Randall Jarrell 101
"Walking Around" - Pablo Neruda 105
Scripts and Water, Rules and Riches - Justice, Speer, Moss, Raine 108
Memory as Melody - Donald Justice 120
Where the Angels Come Toward Us - Philip Levine 129
Home At Last - W. S. Merwin 147
Dark Harbor - Mark Strand 151
Materialism - Jorie Graham 155
II Roman Noon: An Interlude 159
III Interviews
Renaming the Present 167
I vs. You: The Romantic Ambivalence of Self 176
An Interview with David St. John 189
The Poetics of Light 206
Reaching to Touch Mystery 214
An Interview 230
IV A Bibliography of Uncollected Prose 253
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