Cover image for American poetry : wildness and domesticity
American poetry : wildness and domesticity
Bly, Robert.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Harper & Row, [1990]

Physical Description:
viii, 341 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
Essays originally written over the past thirty years.

Includes index.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS323.5 .B63 1990 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order


Author Notes

Robert Bly lives on a farm in his native state of Minnesota. He edited The Seventies magazine, which he founded as The Fifties and in the next decade called The Sixties. In 1966, with David Ray, he organized American Writers Against the Vietnam War. The Light Around the Body, which won the National Book Award in 1968, was strongly critical of the war in Vietnam and of American foreign policy. Since publication of Iron John: A Book About Men (1990), a response to the women's movement, Bly has been immensely popular, appearing on talk shows and advising men to retrieve their primitive masculinity through wildness.

Bly is also a translator of Scandinavian literature, such as Twenty Poems of Tomas Transtromer. Through the Sixties Press and the Seventies Press, he introduced little-known European and South American poets to American readers. His magazines have been the center of a poetic movement involving the poets Donald Hall, Louis Simpson, and James Wright.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Bly's many fans--those who've seen him on public television, for instance--may well be drawn to his prose as well as his poetry. This book of criticism, collected from the work of more than 30 years, shows Bly in both his early bad-boy stage, proclaiming the superiority of non-American male poets over all American poets of both sexes, and in midlife, mitigating this stance somewhat and admitting that some American poets (Galway Kinnell, James Wright, Tom McGrath) have the "wildness" necessary to make the grade. Women seem to be domestic creatures in Bly's world, and therefore unpoetic, for the only woman poet he mentions, Denise Levertov, is summarily dismissed. A few recent essays, authoritative but lacking the defensive ambition of the others, close out the book. --Pat Monaghan

Publisher's Weekly Review

The overriding question posed in poet Bly's ( Selected Poems ) collection of essays is, ``Where do we go to find poetry that flies?'' The book reflects 30 years of musing on the answers, with specific reference to contemporary American poetry (though few women are welcomed as members of this club). The volume is divided into three parts. ``Looking for Dragon Smoke'' compiles the various platforms and philosophies of Bly's magazine The Fifties, The Sixties and The Seventies. ``The Bread of This World: Twelve Contemporary Poets,'' showing Bly at his most inspired, concentrates on individual poets--James Wright, Robert Lowell, Denise Levertov and nine others. ``Educating the Rider and the Horse'' consists of essays charting the direction of poetry and examining the relationship of intellect, politics, form and, most important, ``wildness'' to the genre. Throughout, Bly criticizes American poets for their willingness to abandon inward contemplation: ``Poetry without inwardness or revolutionary feeling has no choice but to end in a kind of fabricated grossness,'' he argues. Provocative and opinionated at their best, Bly's inside views are without exception seriously considered. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved