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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

Shock and Awe

(p.24) Verse Chronicle
Guilty Knowledge, Guilty Pleasure

William Logan

Columbia University Press

This chapter reviews Mary Oliver's Red Bird, Cole Swensen's Ours, Thomas James's Letters to a Stranger, Yusef Komunyakaa's Warhorses, Claudia Emerson's Figure Studies, and Sharon Olds's One Secret Thing. Oliver's Red Birds is considered dull and banal. Swensen's Ours is seen as a long contemplative rant on gardens. James's poems are drenched in Sylvia Plath, incomplete, amateurish at times, full of period mannerism and imprecise gesture. Komunyakaa is accused for being rarely content unless he is hammering the same point. Emerson's well-behaved, slightly prissy poems thrive in an oddly narrow register between regret and paralysis, as if the duties we owe the past were enough to kill us. Olds is described as the most Freudian poet since Plath.

Keywords:   poets, poetry, Mary Oliver, Cole Swensen, Thomas James, Yusef Komunyakaa, Claudia Emerson, Sharon Olds, reviews

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