cover image Poetry and the World

Poetry and the World

Robert Pinsky. Ecco Press, $10.95 (193pp) ISBN 978-0-88001-216-4

How poets connect with the outer world is the broad theme that links these searching essays and reviews by Pinsky, a poet ( History of My Heart ) and critic. He admires William Carlos Williams, who had one foot in the daily life of working-class America, the foot in the avant-garde, and whose syncopated poems voice an implied critique of American culture. Pinsky puts his finger on the ``sociable presence'' in Marianne Moore's poems, which make them ``a profound moral force.'' He unmasks Philip Larkin, who too often affects the persona of a cheerfully philistine reactionary. Other poets whose stance vis-a-vis the world infused their art include American Revolutionary balladeer Philip Freneau, cosmopolite George Oppen, Whitman, Eliot and Edward Arlington Robinsonwho typifies the tragic fate of the sensitive individual in a provincial community. In sinuous, modulated prose, Pinsky gets deep inside his subjects' creative processes. (October)