Clairvoyant with Hunger: Essays on James Dickey, James Wright, W.S. Merwin, Etc.

Clairvoyant with Hunger: Essays on James Dickey, James Wright, W.S. Merwin, Etc.

Clairvoyant with Hunger: Essays on James Dickey, James Wright, W.S. Merwin, Etc.

Clairvoyant with Hunger: Essays on James Dickey, James Wright, W.S. Merwin, Etc.

Synopsis


" Clairvoyant with Hunger consists of fourteen short essays on poems from James Dickey's last book; The Eagle's Mile; twelve short essays on James Wright's best prose poems; a long essay on Dickey's third novel, To the White Sea; a long essay on W.S. Merwin's 320-page poem, The Folding Cliffs; an essay on the major Iraqi poet Dunya Mikhail; a familiar essay on the Japanese poet, Ryuichi Tamura, whose work I translated for publication during my fellowship year in Japan (l971-72), an essay on four poets for Stephen Berg's anthology on Marianne Moore, Theodore Roethke, D.H. Lawrence and Hart Crane; a long essay on the work of poet David Bottoms; and my own interview for a special feature of my work in Fifth Wednesday Journa l in Chicago, Spring 2014. The essays range in location from Chicago to Atlanta, Iraq and Japan." --Laurence Lieberman

"I believe the best of Lieberman's essays equal Stevens' most shattering and inspiring prose: we understand reality as well as literature with a more humane sense of what we are." --Stephen Berg, founding editor of The American Poetry Review.

"Laurence Lieberman, himself an excellent poet, is one of the most intelligent and perceptive critics of poetry to be found today." --Frederick Morgan, founding editor of The Hudson Review.

Excerpt

One of the leading motifs of James Dickey’s early career was his exploration of the consciousness of women. “May Day Sermon“ and “Falling” were the two masterworks in this mode. in “May Day Sermon,” his Faulknerian command of Southern speech vernacular electrified the voice of the lady preacher. in “Falling,” written in the third person, an equivalent intimacy is achieved by the sustained wonderment of the falling stewardess’s free association of images in quest for survival. Both poems achieve a remarkable credibility in hypnotic projection of the mind-set of the female persona.

Virtually all of the poems in Dickey’s late volume Puella are uttered in the simulated voice of the poet’s second wife—Deborah. No fewer than three poems in his last collection, The Eagle’s Mile, resume his studies of the nature of woman’s sensibility. Despite its somewhat cryptic start, the brief concise poem “Weeds” develops into an obliquely compelling love lyric:

Stars and grass
Have between them a connection I’d like to make
More of—find some way to bring them

To one level any way I can,
And put many weeds in amongst. O woman, now that I’m thinking,
Be in there somewhere! Until now. of the things I made up
Only the weeds are any good: Between them,

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