cover image On Autumn Lake: The Collected Essays

On Autumn Lake: The Collected Essays

Douglas Crase. Nightboat, $23.95 trade paper (440p) ISBN 978-1-64362-143-2

Four decades of critical writing from poet Crase (The Revisionist) come together in this intensive collection. Crase is skeptical about calling the pieces criticism; rather, “they are appreciations or predilections, though to be truthful they were more like affairs of the heart, affairs of attention and intellectual desire, rather than criticism.” In “An Outsider’s Introduction to Emerson,” he writes that “there is no book, not even Leaves of Grass, that is closer to the source of [American] poetry than Emerson’s Essays,” and in “Unlikely Angel,” he posits that “however much they crowed of their French influence,” the New York School poetry movement was “America waiting to happen.” Many of the pieces are personal: in “A Schuyler Ballad,” he recounts watching James Schuyler write a poem, and the title essay is an appreciation of his relationship with John Ashbery: “It was convenient for John Ashbery, and dumb luck for me, that I was living in Rochester and could pick him up at the airport whenever he arrived from New York to visit his mother.” Crase’s writing is colorful, though some of the people he writes about may be lost on readers not immersed in American postwar poetry. For student and scholars of the subject, though, this will be worth a look. (May)