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Fourteen on Form

Fourteen on Form: Conversations with Poets

William Baer
Copyright Date: 2004
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    Fourteen on Form
    Book Description:

    Poets include:Willis BarnstoneRobert ConquestWendy CopeDouglas DunnAnthony HechtJohn HollanderDonald JusticeX. J. KennedyMaxine KuminFrederick MorganJohn Frederick NimsW. D. SnodgrassDerek WalcottRichard Wilbur

    When free verse and its many movements seemed to dominate poetry, other writers worked steadfastly, insistently, and majestically in traditional forms of rhyme and meter.

    Such poets as Anthony Hecht, Donald Justice, Derek Walcott, and Richard Wilbur used sonnets, villanelles, blank verse, and many other forms to create dazzling, lasting work. Their writing posed a counterpoint to free verse, sustained a tradition in English language verse, and eventually inspired the movement called New Formalism.

    Fourteen on Form: Conversations with Poetscollects interviews with some of the most influential poets of the last fifty years. William Baer, editor ofThe Formalistasks incisive questions that allow writers to discuss in detail a wide range of topics related to their work, methods of composition, and the contemporary poetry scene.

    Maxine Kumin reflects on being a woman poet during a period in which women were not encouraged to submit to journals. With clarity and passion, Walcott remembers the impetus of his famous "Eulogy to W. H. Auden." British poet Wendy Cope talks about the differences between how her barbed poems are received in England and abroad. The conversations return continually to the serious matter of poetic craft, especially the potential power of form in poetry.

    These well-paced conversations showcase poets discussing their creative lives with insight and candor. The sum total of their forthright opinions inFourteen on Formnot only elucidates the current situation of the art form but also serves as a primer for understanding the fundamental craft of poetics.

    William Baer is a professor of English at the University of Evansville and the editor ofThe Formalist. He editedElia Kazan: Interviews and Conversationswith Derek Walcott (both published by University Press of Mississippi).

    eISBN: 978-1-60473-622-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-2)
    William Baer
    (pp. 3-20)
    Richard Wilbur

    Richard Wilbur is not only, asBook Worldhas put it, “the master craftsman of our times,” he is also one of the world’s foremost contemporary poets.

    Richard Wilbur was born in New York City, grew up in North Caldwell, New Jersey, and attended Amherst College. The year of his graduation, he married Mary Charlotte Hayes Ward, and began three years of military service as a cryptographer with the U.S. Army’s 36th Infantry Division in Italy, France, and Germany.

    After the war, he received a master’s degree from Harvard University, and his first book,The Beautiful Changes and Other Poems,...

    (pp. 21-39)
    Maxine Kumin

    Maxine Kumin, who was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, received her A.B. and her M.A. at Radcliffe College in Massachusetts. While at Radcliffe, she married Victor M. Kumin, and they eventually had three children. From 1958–61, she taught at Tufts University, and, in 1961, she published her first collection of poems,Halfway. Her fourth collection,Up Country: Poems of New England, received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1973.

    Over the years, she’s taught at many universities as a visiting professor, including Columbia University, Princeton University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. For several years, she was a member of...

    (pp. 40-53)
    Derek Walcott

    In 1992, Derek Walcott was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. As Peter Balakian has written inPoetrymagazine, Walcott’s verse “has already taken its place in the history of Western literature.”

    Derek Walcott was born in Castries, St. Lucia, in 1930, and he was educated at St. Mary’s College in Castries and the University College of the West Indies in Mona, Jamaica. His first collection,25 Poems, was published in 1948 at Port-of-Spain, and his first produced play,Cry for a Leader, was performed in 1950 in St. Lucia.

    From 1947 to 1955, he taught at various schools in...

    (pp. 54-64)
    Willis Barnstone

    Willis Barnstone was born in Lewiston, Maine, and received his B.A. at Bowdoin College. He then studied at the University of Paris and the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London before completing his M.A. at Columbia University and his Ph.D. at Yale University. In 1949 he married the painter Helle Phaedra Tzapoulou, and they eventually had three children.

    Dr. Barnstone is currently Professor of Spanish, Portuguese, and Comparative Literature at Indiana University. In the past, he has taught at the Anavrita Academy in Greece, served as a Fulbright Professor in Buenos Aires, and taught at...

    (pp. 65-77)
    Anthony Hecht

    Harold Bloom has discussed, at length, what he calls the “high artistry of Anthony Hecht,” and Michael Dirda has suggested that the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet “may be the most accomplished master of technique since Auden.”

    Anthony Hecht was born in New York City, and he graduated from Bard College in 1944. After three years service in the U.S. Army during and after World War II, he studied at Kenyon College and eventually received his Masters Degree from Columbia University in 1950.

    Recently retired from his position as Professor of English at Georgetown University, Anthony Hecht had previously taught at a...

    (pp. 78-100)
    Donald Justice

    Donald Justice has been described by Mark Strand, a recent U.S. Poet Laureate, as “one of the century’s superb poets, one of the writers of genius that our country has produced.”

    Donald Justice was born and raised in Miami, Florida, and he received his bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Miami. Later, he did graduate work at the University of North Carolina, Stanford University, and the University of Iowa. After receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Iowa in 1954, he taught in the Iowa Writers Workshop for much of his teaching career, although he was also a...

    (pp. 101-119)
    Douglas Dunn

    The Cambridge Guide to Literature in Englishhas described the Scotsman Douglas Dunn as “one of the most important of younger contemporary poets,” and his 1985 reception of Great Britain’s prestigious Whitbread Poetry Prize for his collectionElegiesconfirmed his position as one of Britain’s foremost contemporary poets.

    Douglas Dunn was born in Renfrewshire, Scotland. Trained as a librarian, he later studied English at the University of Hull in England where he also worked in the Brynmor Jones Library until 1971. Then, for a number of years, he worked as a free-lance writer, often writing for the BBC and various...

    (pp. 120-136)
    Robert Conquest

    The distinguished poet and historian Robert Conquest was born in Great Malvern, Worcestershire, England. He studied at the University of Grenoble and later graduated from Magdalen College, Oxford. During World War II, he served in the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, and, after the war, he was a member of H. M. Foreign Service, serving as a diplomat in Bulgaria and later as first secretary at the United Kingdom delegation to the United Nations. Since that time, he has worked at many universities including the London School of Economics, the University of Buffalo, and Columbia University. Since 1981, he has...

    (pp. 137-152)
    John Frederick Nims

    In 1993, John Frederick Nims received the O. B. Hardison Poetry Prize from the Folger Shakespeare Library. From his first poetry publications to the present, John Frederick Nims’s work has been praised for its “craftsmanship and wit and educated sensibility,” and his formidable translations from several languages are internationally recognized. As Philip Murray comments, “Rarely in the translator’s art have such knowledge, skill, sensitivity and breadth of interest coincided so felicitously in a single hand.”

    John Frederick Nims was born in Muskegon, Michigan, and he received his undergraduate and masters degrees from the University of Notre Dame. After completing his...

    (pp. 153-171)
    Wendy Cope

    Aptly described as “a scintillating satirist,” “a gifted parodist,” and “a sensitive poet,” Wendy Cope is also one of Britain’s most popular living poets.

    Born in Kent, England, Wendy Cope read History at St. Hilda’s College, Oxford, and then worked as a primary school teacher in London for fifteen years. She was also a free-lance writer, and a regular columnist for theSpectator. Both of her collections of poetry,Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis(Faber, 1986) andSerious Concerns(Faber, 1992), were bestsellers in Britain. She has also written or edited a number of books for children includingDoes She...

    (pp. 172-192)
    Frederick Morgan

    For fifty years, Frederick Morgan has been the guiding force behind the prestigious literary quarterly,The Hudson Review. He is also a distinguished writer and translator, and, as Daniel Hoffman has written inThe Southern Review, he is “one of our most original and accomplished poets.”

    Born and raised in New York City, Frederick Morgan studied under Allen Tate and R. P. Blackmur at Princeton University. During World War II, he served in the U.S. Army’s Tank Destroyer Corps; and after the war, in 1947, he co-foundedThe Hudson Reviewwhich quickly became one of America’s foremost literary periodicals, publishing,...

    (pp. 193-215)
    W. D. Snodgrass

    W. D. Snodgrass has been described by Peter Porter inLondon Magazineas “a virtuoso, not just of versification but of his feelings,” andThe New York Timeshas called the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, “One of the six best poets now writing in English.”

    W. D. Snodgrass was born and raised in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania, and he attended Geneva College before serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II. After military service, he attended the Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa where he received his bachelor’s degree in 1949 and a Master of Fine Arts degree in 1953. He...

    (pp. 216-236)
    John Hollander

    John Hollander, recipient of the 1983 Bollingen Poetry Prize, is a distinguished poet, scholar, editor, and teacher. His poetry, written with both vision and the highest technical accomplishment, has secured him, as Vernon Shetley has written inThe New Republic, “a place as one of the major figures of our moment.”

    John Hollander was born and raised in New York City where he completed both his A.B. and M.A at Columbia University. Later, he was a junior fellow at Harvard University and eventually received his Ph.D. from Indiana University. He then taught at Yale University for seven years, moving to...

  17. X. J. KENNEDY
    (pp. 237-254)
    X. J. Kennedy

    X. J. Kennedy, winner of the Lamont Poetry Prize, is one of the most distinguished and versatile poets in America. As Thomas DePietro points out, Kennedy is “a technical virtuoso who combines metaphysical wit with idiomatic diction.” He also may be, as Raymond Oliver suggests, “the funniest poet alive.”

    X. J. Kennedy was born and raised in Dover, New Jersey. After his undergraduate studies at Seton Hall University, he completed a Masters degree in English at Columbia University. During the Korean War, he served in the U.S. Navy (1951–55). He then continued his graduate studies at the University of...

  18. INDEX
    (pp. 255-265)