No Other Way: Selected Prose

Charles North, Author
Charles North, Author Hanging Loose Press $22 (172p) ISBN 978-1-882413-53-9
Reviewed on: 12/29/1997
Release date: 01/01/1998
North's title is taken from an unnamed James Schuyler poem: ""Many think that I am modest:/ they could not be more mistaken./ I'm a great poet: no other way."" This miscellany of short and shorter pieces written over the last 20 years sums up North's critical dogmatism. The opener, ""Life in (Mis-) Prision"" (1976), is a critique of Harold Bloom's review of John Ashbery's poetry, a productive double-angled approach that North later uses in a (unpublished) letter to the New York Review of Books on Helen Vendler's positive review of James Schuyler's Selected Poems. In each case, North welcomes Bloom's and Vendler's praise but deprecates what he sees as their failure to deal with the basic issue of the poem as a work of art. In many of these 32 articles, North discusses poets of the New York School(s), but he rarely provides quotations that would support his pronouncements. Exceptions to this frustrating omission are his pieces of Joseph Ceravelo, David Schubert, Schuyler and, especially, his fine, long essay on Kenneth Koch. One rewarding delight is a noninterview with Paul Violi. After a failed attempt to tape an interview with Violi, North put together ""a sort of questionnaire"" on ""The N.Y. Poetry Scene/Short Form"" in which the answers are in the questions. This is, at best, a slight book and at worst, somewhat annoying. North, poet-in-residence at Pace University and the author of nine books, has collected these short pieces into a slim book. Unfortunately, that lack of heft makes the occasional arrogance of tone doubly off-putting. (July)
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