Thursday, October 26, 2017

A life in poetry …

… Pulitzer Prize-winning poet James Wright ‘couldn’t be casual about anything’. (Hat tip, G. E. Reutter.)
Wright’s obsession with poetry remained throughout his life, though he frequently considered abandoning it, particularly in the early years of struggle and frustration. “By God,” he wrote in a 1947 letter, “I am going to keep myself from writing if I have to tape my fingers and thumbs together.” A decade later, his first book, “The Green Wall,” won the Yale Series of Younger Poets Prize. Yet he remained unhappy, both with his own work and with the state of American poetry, which he saw as excessively formal and staid, pervaded by the so-called New Criticism. “I have been depressed as hell,” he wrote Theodore Roethke in 1958. “My stuff stinks, and you know it.” The current situation, he went on to write, was “more than a literary vacuum — this is a catastrophe for human civilization.”

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