Harp Lake

John Hollander, Author Alfred A. Knopf $8.95 (94p) ISBN 978-0-394-72051-7
Hollander's poetry is mainly concerned with writing itself and with the creation of art in general. And Harp Lake is no exception: it abounds with references to sculpting, painting, writing and, especially, to working with clay. Presumably, Hollander himself is the subject of ``The Mad Potter,'' impressing his pots with `` . . . inscriptions / That told a story only when you'd learned / How not to read them. . . . '' The Bollingen Prize-winner certainly knows his craft; Hollander's poems demonstrate indisputable technical control. But mere skill cannot carry him to heights of excellence; too often his facility with overused poetic tropes (death, autumn leaves, mirrors) subdues or silences his originality. Hollander at times seems aware of this problem, as ``All Our Poems of Death Are Juvenilia'' suggestsyet he does little to resist. The poet's self-involvement is another liability here. Although Hollander muses on history and mortality with sincerity and sensitivity, most poems are limited, not extended, by his persona. Women, especially, are rarely more than shadowy figures who frequent bodies of water. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/03/1988
Release date: 11/01/1988
Genre: Fiction
Hardcover - 94 pages - 978-0-394-57247-5
Show other formats
Discover what to read next