Thursday, April 3, 2014

Poetry Month: New Biographies of Poets

"A voice exists for every living creature, human or beast.  It is one of the poet's tasks to listen and transcribe: the voice (the diction, syntax and cadence) of the cow and pig, the mollusk, the echidna, the strangler fig, the lyre bird and goose, the tick, the possum, 'The Fellow Human'... [The poet] works toward an accessible poetry, telling stories, attempting secular...and holy communion. [The poet] might respond to Ezra Pound's commandment 'Make it new': 'No, make it present.'"
~Michael Schmidt, Lives of the Poets

Poets - why do they fascinate us? From Samuel Johnson's Lives of the Most Eminent English Poets to today, there are a multitude of personal histories of poets out there.  Emily Dickinson's life has been the subject of multiple biographers. The poets of the Beat Generation still capture our imagination. Based on unpublished diaries and correspondence, Daniel Mark Epstein wrote What Lips My Lips Have Kissed: The Loves and Love Poems of Edna St. Vincent Millay. A few years ago the complete correspondence of Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell was published; you can also read the letters of Langston Hughes and his mentor, Carl Van Vechten. Local poet Jimmy Santiago Baca wrote a memoir A Place to Stand: The Making of a Poet in 2001; Gil Scott-Heron's memoir, The Last Holiday, was published posthumously in 2012, the same year that Joy Harjo published her memoir, Crazy Brave - just to name a few.

To celebrate National Poetry Month, we've compiled a list of the latest biographies of poets in the library catalog.  Hope this will whet your appetite to read more about poets - and more poetry!

E. E. Cummings: A Life by Susan Cheever

An Enlarged Heart: A Personal History by Cynthia Zarin

For a Song and a Hundred Songs: A Poet's Journey Through a Chinese Prison by Liao Yiwu

Pain, Parties, Work : Sylvia Plath in New York, Summer 1953 by Elizabeth Winder

American Isis: The Life and Art of Sylvia Plath by Carl Rollyson

Mad Girl's Love Song: Sylvia Plath and Life Before Ted by Andrew Wilson

Holding On Upside Down: The Life and Work of Marianne Moore by Linda Leavell

Tennyson: To Strive, To Seek, To Find by John Batchelor

For more poet biographies, check the library catalog.

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