The Fading Smile: Poets in Boston, from Robert Frost to Robert Lowell to Sylvia Plath,

Peter Davison, Author Alfred A. Knopf $24 (346p) ISBN 978-0-679-40658-7
``There's a strange fact about the poets of roughly our age, and one that doesn't exactly seem to have always been true,'' observed Robert Lowell in a letter to Theodore Roethke in 1963. ``It's this, that to write we seem to have to go at it with such single-minded intensity that we are always on the point of drowning.'' In this memoir, poet and Houghton Mifflin editor Davison traces the connections that linked a large, dynamic and, at times, self-destructive group of American poets--Lowell, Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath among them--for five years as Boston experienced its ``second poetic renaissance.'' Separate chapters discuss individual poets, and the author writes evocatively, too, of his own strivings during that same period in the Boston area. But the main interest of the book is the way Davison follows the writers' complex interrelations, fostered by teachers (John Holmes), institutions (the Poets' Theatre of Cambridge), proximity, choice and chance. This is a personal and vivid portrait of a literary moment and its community. Photos not seen by PW. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/01/1994
Release date: 08/01/1994
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 368 pages - 978-0-393-31358-1
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