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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

From Stinko to Devo

(p.84) Verse Chronicle
Guilty Knowledge, Guilty Pleasure

William Logan

Columbia University Press

This chapter reviews Charles Bukowski's The Continual Condition, Franz Wright's Wheeling Motel, Beth Ann Fennelly's Unmentionables, Marie Ponsot's Easy, Joanna Rawson's Unrest, and John Ashbery's Planisphere. Bukowski was the great littérateur of American lowlife, bringing an unaffected delight in every sleazy pleasure life offered. Wright presents himself a latter-day sinner, but the new poems in Wheeling Motel are surprisingly tender, considered pieces of work. Fennelly's perky, up-to-the-minute verse is described as having all the disadvantages of charm. Ponsot's odd way of looking at things is reflected in her poems that are offhand, spirited, and predatory. Rawson's subjects are smuggled in from the headlines—illegal aliens trapped in a boxcar in the desert; a young woman walking through Baghdad, strapped to a bomb; pilots back home practicing strafing runs. Ashbery has long been a master of American vernacular, yet his poems betray only the slightest awareness of the historical present.

Keywords:   poets, poetry, Charles Bukowski, Franz Wright, Beth Ann Fennelly, Marie Ponsot, Joanna Rawson, John Ashbery, reviews

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