Poets, Poetics and Politics

Rolfe Humphries, Author, Richard Gillman, Editor, Michael Paul Novak, Editor University Press of Kansas $35 (295p) ISBN 978-0-7006-0508-8
These candid, argumentative letters from poet/translator Rolfe Humphries (1894-1969) to Theodore Roethke, Louise Bogan, Edmund Wilson, Malcolm Cowley, James Laughlin and other writers reveal a man of paradox. Crafter of finely made, sensitive, modest lyrics, classics scholar Humphries had fervent, dogmatic communist sympathies in the 1930s and outspokenly campaigned against Hitler and fascism. Translator of Ovid, Virgil, Lucretius, Martial and Garcia Lorca, he filled his own poems and letters with an offbeat mix of American vernacular and classical simplicity. Son of a pro baseball player turned classics scholar, Humphries discussed poetic techniques in terms of sports and penned offhand putdowns (of Emily Dickinson, he wrote, ``A lot of her work dribbles off into nothingness''). These high-energy letters illuminate his influence on Roethke, a protege, and his sparring relationship with Bogan. Poets Gillman ( Too Much Alone ) and Novak ( A Story to Tell ) both knew Humphries personally. Photos. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1992
Release date: 01/01/1992
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-7006-0589-7
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