Cover image for Classes on modern poets and the art of poetry
Classes on modern poets and the art of poetry
Dickey, James.
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Publication Information:
Columbia, S.C. : University of South Carolina Press, [2004]

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xxxv, 310 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
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PS323 .D53 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Widely known as the winner of the 1966 National Book Award and author of the best-selling novel Deliverance, James Dickey devoted himself as much to the critique of the modern literary tradition as to his participation in it. A writer enthralled by teaching, he lectured at several major universities before settling at the University of South Carolina for nearly three decades as poet-in-residence. After his death in 1997, a transcript of his lectures was found among his papers. Collected here and published for the first time, these lectures reveal judgments and appraisals Dickey would use to great effect in his teaching. They also contribute to the unraveling of Dickey's art from the larger-than-life myth that surrounded him. evaluates the relevance of the writer's often sharply worded opinions. The volume brings to life class sessions planned and delivered soon after Dickey took up full-time residence at the University of South Carolina, in the triumphal years following his rapid succession of honours. Full of asides, witticisms and afterthoughts, the sessions suggest not the pontification of a scholar at an academic conference but the confident learning of a practicing poet who happens to enjoy being in the classroom. Clearly setting forth his sense of literary criticism, Dickey repeatedly emphasizes the preeminence of the poet over the critic, the original use of language as a primary criterion for effective poetry, and the centrality of personal reaction to poetry as a measure of its value. Dickey's comments are valuable for their insight into both his own thought processes and those of the poets he reviewed, among them William Butler Yeats, Ezra Pound, Dylan Thomas, A.E. Housman, Gerald Manley Hopkins, Robert Frost, Walter de la Mare and Robert Bridges.

Author Notes

James Lafayette Dickey, an American poet and novelist, was born in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1923. He is perhaps best known for Deliverance, his novel about four suburban men struggling to survive a canoe trip gone awry, which was made into a popular movie of the same title, starring Burt Reynolds. Dickey also published several volumes of poetry that are marked by his portrayal of a world in conflict. His collected poems (1942-1992) were published under the title The Whole Motion in 1992.

After serving as a pilot during World War II, Dickey earned bachelor's and master's degrees from Vanderbilt University. He taught at several universities and worked as poetry consultant to the Library of Congress from 1966 to 1968. He died in 1996.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Dickey is best remembered for his National Book Award-winning novel, Deliverance, and the memorable film that followed. What may not be as well known is that Dickey was also a poet and a teacher at the University of South Carolina for many years. Following his death in 1997, transcriptions of his lectures were discovered and are now being published for the first time. Editor Greiner (English, Univ. of South Carolina, Columbia) provides a splendid introduction that highlights Dickey's life and career and gives the reader perspective on Dickey's approach to his poetry and his role as a teacher. The transcriptions reveal Dickey's emphasis on the role of the poet over the critic and the personal reaction of the reader to the poem as a measure of its value. The poets Dickey examines include, among others, Yeats, Pound, Frost, and Dylan Thomas. Fans of Dickey and of poetry in general will find here a wealth of learning and insight from a man who loved teaching and the subject he taught. The book also gives readers a much different perspective of the man best remembered for such a chilling novel. Recommended for all literary collections.-Ron Ratliff, Kansas State Univ., Manhattan (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

As the title suggests, this volume comprises lectures Dickey delivered on the art of modern poetry (he was at the time poet-in-residence at University of South Carolina). Transcriptions of the taped lectures were found among Dickey's papers after his death in 1997, and Greiner (also Univ. of South Carolina) edited them for the present volume. In the lectures, Dickey introduces the listener/reader to poets such as Conrad Aiken, Kingsley Amis, W.H. Auden, Robert Bridges, Emily Dickinson, T.S. Eliot, Thomas Hardy, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Randall Jarrell, Archibald MacLeish, John Masefield, Edwin Muir, Wilfred Owen, Ezra Pound, John Crowe Ransom, Edwin Arlington Robinson, Allen Tate, Dylan Thomas, and William Butler Yeats. The final lecture was given just a few days before Dickey died. All readers will find here a good introduction to poetry and--more important--those teaching poetry will discover, through Dickey's example, remarkable ways to transfer a deep understanding of modern poetry to students. ^BSumming Up: Essential. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty. Q. Grigg emeritus, Hamline University

Table of Contents

List of Illustrationsp. ix
Forewordp. xi
Acknowledgmentsp. xvii
Introductionp. xix
A Note on the Textp. xxxiii
Editorial Notep. xxxv
Translation and Poetryp. 1
Emily Dickinsonp. 5
Kingsley Amisp. 19
Thomas Hardyp. 24
William Bellp. 31
Gerard Manley Hopkinsp. 33
Robert Bridgesp. 46
Edgar Bowersp. 51
A. E. Housmanp. 53
Charles Causleyp. 61
William Butler Yeatsp. 64
Donald Daviep. 69
More Yeatsp. 71
Keith Douglasp. 80
More Yeatsp. 85
W. S. Grahamp. 87
Edwin Arlington Robinsonp. 89
Walter de la Marep. 107
Michael Hamburgerp. 119
Robert Frostp. 123
Anthony Hechtp. 132
John Masefieldp. 134
Vachel Lindsayp. 145
Geoffrey Hillp. 148
Ezra Poundp. 153
Joe Langlandp. 174
The Georgian Poetsp. 175
More Ezra Poundp. 184
The Fugitive Poetsp. 193
Conrad Aiken and John Peale Bishopp. 208
Edwin Muirp. 221
Philip Larkinp. 232
Archibald MacLeishp. 236
Mark Van Dorenp. 241
Wilfred Owenp. 244
Randall Jarrellp. 250
Sidney Keyes and Alun Lewisp. 256
W. H. Audenp. 264
Dylan Thomasp. 271
Codap. 281
Sourcesp. 285
Indexp. 299