Guys and Dove
This chapter reviews Mark Strand's Almost Invisible, Geoffrey Hill's Odi Barbare (Barbaric Odes), Vladimir Nabokov's Selected Poems, and The Penguin Anthology of Twentieth-Century American Poetry edited by Rita Dove. Strand's prose poems in Almost Invisible tilt toward contrived fables and dopey meditations, at worst self-indulgent musings after the imagination has shut down for the day and at best Kafka lite. Hill's Odi Barbare is a crabbed sequence of outbursts and meditations, fifty-two sections cast in Sapphic quatrains. Selected Poems supplements Nabokov's own selection, published in Poems and Problems (1970), with two dozen or so poems from Russian previously untranslated and some uncollected poems in English. The Russian poems have been rendered into a kind of mock Victorian by the novelist's late son, Dmitri. Dove's The Penguin Anthology of Twentieth-Century American Poetry is an inadequate portrait of American poetry of the late century. Instead, it might be called an expression of contemporary anxieties about poetry.
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