Our Life in Poetry: Selected Essays and Reviews

M. L. Rosenthal, Author Persea Books $47.5 (580p) ISBN 978-0-89255-149-1
Readers of poetry will appreciate this collection of reviews by Rosenthal ( The Poet's Art ), a poet-critic who is wonderfully adept at making sense of the vast and treacherous terrain of modern poetics. His method seems disconcertingly simple: ``My basic critical approach . . . has been simply to try to grasp what I see and hear in a poem, just by opening myself up to it.'' The results are magnificent. In an array of reviews from 1944 to 1988, Rosenthal explores the works of Eliot, Pound, Yeats, Williams, Stevens; such lesser-known favorites as Dilys Laing and Roman Guthrie; and current Israeli and Irish poets. His critical verdicts are charged with enthusiasm and wit, and sometimes with brave skepticism. Reading e.e. cummings's Collected Poems ``was like eating a whole cheesecake at one sitting,'' while confessional poet Robert Lowell's Life Studies is ``a series of personal confidences, rather shameful, that one is honor-bound not to reveal.'' Perhaps the most rewarding essays are those in which Rosenthal takes a Jovian view of stylistic meanderings and politicized movements within poetry. His own style--hospitable and sparkling--makes this ample volume a delight. (June)
Reviewed on: 03/04/1991
Release date: 03/01/1991
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