Cover image for The selected poems of Janet Lewis
The selected poems of Janet Lewis
Lewis, Janet, 1899-1998.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Poems. Selections
Publication Information:
Athens, Ohio : Swallow Press/Ohio University Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
xix, 123 pages ; 22 cm

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3523.E866 S45 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Since the appearance in print of her early poems over seventy-five years ago, the poetry of Janet Lewis has grown in quiet acclaim and popularity. Although she is better known as a novelist of historical fiction, her first and last writings were poems. With the publication of her selected poems, Swallow Press celebrates the distinguished career of one of its most cherished authors.

Critics as disparate as Kenneth Rexroth, Timothy Steele, Theodore Roethke, Larry McMurtry, N. Scott Momaday, and Dana Gioia have sung the praises of her work over the decades. Her career as a poet was remarkable not only for its longevity but also for the fact that even well into her tenth decade she wrote poems that stand with her very best work.

Characterized by the vigor and sharpness of her images and the understated lyricism that permeates her rhythmic lines, The Selected Poems of Janet Lewis is a survey of modern poetry unto itself.

Author Notes

Janet Lewis was a novelist, poet, and short-story writer whose literary career spanned almost the entire twentieth century. The New York Times has praised her novels as "some of the 20th century's most vividly imagined and finely wrought literature." Born and educated in Chicago, she lived in California for most of her adult life and taught at both Stanford University and the University of California at Berkeley. Her works include The Wife of Martin Guerre (1941), The Trial of S#65533;ren Qvist (1947), The Ghost of Monsieur Scarron (1959), Good-Bye, Son and Other Stories (1946), and Poems Old and New (1982).

R. L. Barth is the author of A Soldier's Time , Abandon Hope , and, most recently, First Morning, Last Night . As Robert L. Barth he is a publisher of chapbooks.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Formalist poet Lewis (1899-1998) might still be best-known as the wife of poet-critic Yvor Winters, or for her novella The Wife of Martin Guerre. Her subtly chiseled poems should have made her famous instead. Selected by Barth (First Morning, Last Night), who has also edited Winters, this welcome volume offers a new look at a careful poet with an unusually long career and life. Lewis began in the nineteen-teens, in a compressed and almost Imagist mode; her work of the '30s follows Winters's demanding classical precepts, often to better results than Winters's own poems. The early lyric "Days" reads, in its entirety: "Swift and subtle/ The flying shuttle/ Crosses the web/ And fills the loom,/ Leaving for range/ Of choice or change/ No room, no room." The sensibility that produced "Days" gave rise to more, and longer, good poems, among them "Helen Grown Old," a hauntingly final stanzaic work that's at last turning up, as it should, in anthologies: what happened to Helen after the war? No one knows: "No one brings/ A tale of quiet love. The fading sound/ Is blent of falling embers, weeping kings." After three decades of poetic silence, Lewis produced substantial collections in the '70s and '80s; the late verse with which the volume closes remembers friends, houses and California landscapes with an attractive concision. Readers of Richard Wilbur, Louise Bogan or Robert Pinsky will likely want to go out of their way to track Lewis's work downÄthanks to this edition, they may not have to. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved