The One in the Many: A Poets Memoirs

David Ignatow, Author Wesleyan University Press $19.95 (207p) ISBN 978-0-8195-5211-2
These 27 essays, many published previously in literary magazines, range from autobiographical to literary reflection, from reminiscences of childhood rebellions to a thoughtful reappraisal of free verse. Their combined force puts Ignatow's sensibility within reach of the general reader. And in someespecially the essays on William Carlos Williams, Walt Whitman and Wallace StevensIgnatow illuminates modern masters with a personal wisdom useful to readers of poetry. The poet's bent as a critic is to examine poetry as it is ``concretely manifested in my own life,'' not as a matter of academic interest; his down-to-earth sincerity goes refreshingly against the common critical grain. There are drawbacks: Ignatow's prose can plod, particularly when he ventures into abstract discussion, and storytelling is not his strong pointplot seems to inhibit his freedom to be poetically insightful. At times, when discussing his peers (James Wright, for example), Ignatow lets affection get the better of him, and waxes sentimental. But his presence of mind offers more than mind usually does: the daring and dedication of ``a wise old man dancing on his creaky shanks'' for poetry's sake. (November)
Reviewed on: 10/01/1988
Release date: 10/01/1988
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