The Oxford Companion to Twentieth-Century Poetry in English

By Ian Hamilton | Go to book overview

B

BACA, Jimmy Santiago ( 1952- ), of mixed Chicano and Apache origins, had a disastrous childhood--his mother murdered by her second husband, his father dead of alcoholism. He then absconded from a New Mexico orphanage, drifted unto a violent 'street' and drug-affected adolescence, and found himself early in penitentiaries from San Quentin to Arizona. The inmate writing which he turned to in default of any better path he has said 'bridged my divided life of prisoner and free man'. It also found a supporter in Denise ★Levertov, then poetry editor for the radical periodical Mother Jones. That led on to Martin & Meditations on the South Valley ( New York. 1987), a richly localized journey- poem centred on the south-west. For its 'detribalized Apache' narrator, the new-found encounter with land and heritage becomes restorative. A similar sense of self-discovery runs through his Black Mesa Poems ( New York, 1989), whether remembered poverty and drift, the different landscapes of Mexico and Texas, the life of the pueblo with its ristras and curanderas, or even, as in a poem like 'I Am Here', the fevers of prison life. Baca's verse reads much in the tradition of the chronicle, a poetry of witness made the more affecting by his clarity of image. His essential collections remain Martin & Meditations on the South Valley and Black Mesa Poems, but we also the essays in Working in the Dark: Reflections of a Poet of the Barrio ( Santa Fe, New Mexico, 1992).

[ ARL

BAIN, Donald ( 1922-), was born in Liverpool and educated at King's College, Cambridge, where he was a contemporary of Nicholas ★Moore, Hamish ★Henderson, and Alex ★Comfort. While at Cambridge he edited Oxford and Cambridge Writing ( 1942) and had his first poems published in Folios of New Writing. During the war he served in the Royal Artillery and the Gordon Highlanders until he was invalided out. His few published poems come from those years. After the war he took up a career as an actor.

His poems were stylish but neither compelling nor memorable, with the exception of the brief but frequently anthologized 'War Poet'. Its unheroic tone of puzzled and ironic acceptance reflects the feeling about the Second World War of so many who were caught up in it. The poem's last line is one that stays in the mind as a telling epitome of contemporary attitudes: 'We do not wish to moralize, only to Case our dusty throats.' There is no book of poems by Bain. His few anthologized poems can be found in Poetry from Cambridge in Wartime, ed. G. Moore ( London, 1946), The Poetry of War 1939-1945, ed. I. Hamilton ( London, 1965), and Poems of the Second World War, ed. V. Selwyn ( London, 1985).

[ ATT

BAKER, Howard ( 1905-90), was born in Philadelphia, but was educated in the west, receiving his BA in 1927 from Whittier College, California; his MA in 1929 from Stanford; and his Ph. D in 1937 from the University of California at Berkeley. He studied at the Sorbonne, 1929-31.

At Stanford he became acquainted with Yvor ★Winters, and was one of the first members of the ★ Stanford School, editing, with Winters and Janet ★Lewis, The Gyroscope ( 1929-30). He published eight poems in Winters anthology Twelve Poets of the Pacific ( 1937). In the early

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The Oxford Companion to Twentieth-Century Poetry in English
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Introduction v
  • Selection of Anthologies xi
  • Key to Contributors xiv
  • Alphabetical List of Contributors xvii
  • A 1
  • B 28
  • C 80
  • D 113
  • E 143
  • F 156
  • G 179
  • H 206
  • I 247
  • J 251
  • K 266
  • L 284
  • M 318
  • N 375
  • O 393
  • P 407
  • Q 436
  • R 437
  • S 468
  • T 533
  • U 555
  • V 557
  • W 562
  • Y 593
  • Z 599
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