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Guilty Knowledge, Guilty PleasureThe Dirty Art of Poetry$
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William Logan

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780231166867

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231166867.001.0001

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Verse Chronicle

Verse Chronicle

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(p.155) Verse Chronicle
Guilty Knowledge, Guilty Pleasure

William Logan

Columbia University Press

This chapter reviews Richard Wilbur's Anterooms, Yusef Komunyakaa's The Chameleon Couch, Carl Phillips' Double Shadow, Rae Armantrout's Money Shot, Les Murray's Taller When Prone, and Geoffrey Hill's Oraclau ¦ Oracles. In Anterooms Wilbur has made a belated virtue of brevity and simplicity. The poems are at times so simple they could be mistaken for the linsey-woolsey of light verse, but at best they have the severity of memories long abided. Komunyakaa's populist strain has long fought with his love of classical literature and classical reserve; in The Chameleon Couch, the populist gets the upper hand. The poems in Phillips's Double Shadow offer experience both half-lit and melodramatic. Armantrout's poems are micro-dreams of sly vanity, their brute coyness typical of much late-generation avant-garde poetry. Murray's poems bear the stray anecdotes of life in exotic places, places that would have been beyond the means or stamina of a poor gypsy poet. The poems in Hill's Oraclau/Oracles are his border ballads for the misty marchlands beyond Offa's dike, partly the invocation of brute pastoral, partly self-inquisition over certainties long unquestioned.

Keywords:   poets, poetry, Richard Wilburm Yusef Komunyakaa, Carl Phillips, Rae Armantrout, Les Murray, Geoffrey Hill, reviews

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