McClatchy begins with a portrait of his development as a poet and as a man, and provides vibrant details about some of those who helped shape his sensibilityfrom Anne Sexton in her final days, to Harold Bloom, his enigmatic teacher at Yale, to James Merrill, a wise and witty mentor. All of these glimpses into McClatchy's personal history enhance our understanding of a coming of age from ingenious reader to accomplished poet-critic.
Later sections range through poetry past and presentfrom Emily Dickinson to Seamus Heaney and W. S. Merwinwith incisive criticism generously interspersed with vivid anecdotes about McClatchy's encounters with other poets' lives and work. A critical unpacking of Alexander Pope's "Epistle to Miss Blount" is interwoven with compassionate psychological portrait of a brilliant poet plagued by both romantic longings and debilitating physical deformities. There are surprising takes on the literary imagination as well: a look at Elizabeth Bishop through her letters, and a tribute to the Broadway lyrics of Stephen Sondheim and the tradition of light verse.
The questions McClatchy poses of poems prompt a fresh look and the last word. Free of scholarly pretension, elegantly and movingly written, Twenty Questions is a bright, open window onto a public and private experience of poetry, to be appreciated by poets, readers, and critics alike.
|Publisher:||Columbia University Press|
|Edition description:||New Edition|
|Product dimensions:||6.16(w) x 8.96(h) x 0.45(d)|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
About the Author
Table of ContentsReading
My Fountain Pen
Aspects of "Battle-Piece"
Woman in White
Wildness Asking for Ceremony
At Her Other Desk
Laughter in the Soul
Songs of a Curmudgeon
The Exile's Song
Sitting Here Strangely on Top of the Sunlight
The Lost Upland
Encountering the Sublime
Braving the Elements
The Art of Poetry
What People are Saying About This
It's no surprise to find in Twenty Questions qualities that have always distinguished J.D. McClatchy's work: sparkling intelligence; learning; an informed immersion in the poetry of our time.... In a noble tradition of the essay, he chooses to write about the writers who interest him, personally, not always part of the familiar academic canon.... A generous, bracing collection.
Authoritative but not peremptory, eloquent but not effusive, the tone of these essays ensures that the act of poetic criticism enables McClatchy to enter the realm of the Common Reader's interests and beliefs and remain there.
Richard Howard, author of Like Most Revelations
'There are no critics,'wrote Randall Jarrell, 'around the throne of God.'But surely the angels -- and Jarrell himself -- would welcome J. D. McClatchy into their company, since these nourishing, opinionated, energizing essays are everything writing about poetry ought to be. Twenty Questions is a book of pleasures, a reader's testament brimming with insight and ardor so evident as to restore to us poetry's power to refresh, provoke, and delight.
Mark Doty, author of My Alexandria and Heaven's Coast