Praises and Dispraises

Terrence Des Pres, Author Viking Books $18.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-670-80406-1
For Des Pres the poem is a small act of healing that makes us aware of our condition and our optionsin that sense, all modern poetry is political. In this brilliant and illuminating study, completed shortly before his death in 1987, the author ( The Survivor: An Anatomy of Life in the Death Camps ) looks at five poets for whom politics looms large. Yeats, self-appointed Irish bard, and Brecht, exposer of Nazi evil, both believed in the poet's visionary power to transform the world. In the outspoken verses of Breyten Breytenbach, exiled South African poet, official versions of reality are dismantled. Thomas McGrath's Whitmanesque stanzas affirm that each of us lives a political as well as a private life, whether or not we acknowledge this dimension. Feminist oracle Adrienne Rich extends politics to encompass a fierce attention to relationships of all kinds. Des Pres's fresh readings are inspirational. (August)
Reviewed on: 08/05/1988
Release date: 08/01/1988
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