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What became of Modernism?

C.K. Stead, 1 May 1980

Five American Poets 
by John Matthias, introduced by Michael Schmidt.
Carcanet, 160 pp., £3.25, November 1979, 0 85635 259 4
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The New Australian Poetry 
edited by John Tranter.
Makar Press, 330 pp., £6.50, November 1979
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Carpenters of Light 
by Neil Powell.
Carcanet, 154 pp., £6.95, November 1979, 0 85635 305 1
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Mirabell: Books of Number 
by James Merrill.
Oxford, 182 pp., £3.25, June 1979, 0 19 211892 7
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The Book of the Body 
by Frank Bidart.
Faber, 44 pp., £4.50, October 1979, 0 374 11549 4
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Skull of Adam 
by Stanley Moss.
Anvil, 67 pp., £2.50, May 1979, 0 85646 041 9
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Poems 1928-1978 
by Stanley Kunitz.
Secker, 249 pp., £6.50, September 1979, 0 436 23932 9
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... for emphasis. Yet Bidart’s book makes a point and compels an acknowledgment when put alongside Stanley Moss’s Skull of Adam. Bidart’s, one has to concede, is interesting for the human material it contains. Moss’s book by comparison is bland, vacuous, sleek and slack – and the attempt to give it some gravel (poems called ‘Snot’, ‘Shit’ and ...

Anna of All the Russias

John Bayley, 24 January 1991

Selected Poems 
by Anna Akhmatova, selected and translated by Stanley Kunitz and Max Hayward.
Harvill, 173 pp., £5.95, November 1989, 0 00 271041 2
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The Complete Poems of Anna Akhmatova 
translated by Judith Hemschemeyer, edited by Roberta Reeder.
Zephyr, 1635 pp., £85, October 1990, 0 939010 13 5
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The Garden: New and Selected Poetry and Prose 
by Bella Akhmadulina.
Boyars, 171 pp., £9.95, January 1991, 0 7145 2924 9
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... foreign syntax, but it may in the end be preferable to render Akhmatova in a plain prose version. Stanley Kunitz and Max Hayward, however, are highly experienced translators, sympathetic alike to Russian and English requirements. One of her most memorable poems, ‘Lot’s Wife’, four quatrains composed between 1922 and 1924, illustrates the virtues of ...

A Hammer in His Hands

Frank Kermode: Lowell’s Letters, 22 September 2005

The Letters of Robert Lowell 
edited by Saskia Hamilton.
Faber, 852 pp., £30, July 2005, 0 571 20204 7
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... of his old friend Adrienne Rich, which he dismissed as a feminist outburst. Another old friend, Stanley Kunitz, though admiring the poetry, called it ‘intimately cruel’. Lowell told Kunitz that his valued friend Peter Taylor ‘couldn’t imagine any moral objection to Dolphin. Not that the poem, alas, from its ...

Tomorrow is here again

Anne Wagner: The First Pop Age, 11 October 2012

The First Pop Age 
by Hal Foster.
Princeton, 338 pp., £20.95, October 2011, 978 0 691 15138 0
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... dissecting then reassembling the salient parts. The result in the eyes of doubters, the poet Stanley Kunitz for example, was an art ‘not of transformation but of transposition’, when transformation is art’s proper aim. Transposition of what? Foster begins his book with the pronouncement of the architects Alison and Peter Smithson: ‘Today we ...

Stand-Up Vampire

Gillian White: Louise Glück, 26 September 2013

Poems 1962-2012 
by Louise Glück.
Farrar, Straus, 634 pp., £30, November 2012, 978 0 374 12608 7
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... and quite a few more in The House on Marshland: she was obviously paying attention to the work of Stanley Kunitz, as well as of Robert Lowell. Formally, too, this early work – thick, stacked diction and taut, chewy syntax – is unlike the plain style that follows: Under cerulean, amid her backyard’s knobby rhubarb squats My cousin to giggle with ...


Mark Ford: Love and Theft, 2 December 2004

... your face and hear your voice, and take your hand . . .’ (‘In the Mail’) Friends such as Stanley Kunitz and Elizabeth Bishop (who a few years earlier had been dismayed to find one of her own distressed letters to Lowell recycled as a sonnet) begged him not to publish: ‘Art just isn’t worth that much,’ she insisted, asking if he ‘wasn’t ...

You have to take it

Joanne O’Leary: Elizabeth Hardwick’s Style, 17 November 2022

A Splendid Intelligence: The Life of Elizabeth Hardwick 
by Cathy Curtis.
Norton, 400 pp., £25, January, 978 1 324 00552 0
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The Uncollected Essays 
by Elizabeth Hardwick, edited by Alex Andriesse.
NYRB, 304 pp., £15.99, May, 978 1 68137 623 3
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... that The Dolphin would be a humiliation for Hardwick. ‘Lizzie is the heroine,’ he wrote to Stanley Kunitz, ‘but she will feel bruised by the intimacy. She should win all hearts but what is that when you are left, and left again in print?’ It wasn’t just the appropriation of her correspondence that bothered Hardwick, but ‘the distortion of ...

Wobble in My Mind

Colm Tóibín: Lizzie, Cal and Caroline, 7 May 2020

The Dolphin Letters, 1970-79: Elizabeth Hardwick, Robert Lowell and Their Circle 
edited by Saskia Hamilton.
Faber, 560 pp., £35, January, 978 0 571 35741 3
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The Dolphin: Two Versions, 1972-73 
by Robert Lowell, edited by Saskia Hamilton.
Farrar, Straus, 224 pp., £11.99, December 2019, 978 0 374 53827 9
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... letters into sonnets without her knowledge or agreement. In April 1971, Lowell mentioned to Stanley Kunitz that he was writing poems about the break-up of his marriage. He was considering publishing them in a limited edition first:That might be the most tactful thing I could do for Elizabeth short of burning the ms. Then in a year or two I’d ...


Colm Tóibín: Bishop v. Lowell, 14 May 2009

Words in Air: The Complete Correspondence between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell 
edited by Thomas Travisano and Saskia Hamilton.
Faber, 875 pp., £40, November 2008, 978 0 571 24308 2
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... to write. (‘And now having damned everyone,’ she wrote to Lowell in 1959 after she had dissed Stanley Kunitz and Richard Wilbur, ‘I feel awfully cheered up.’) ‘If you want me to,’ she went on, I’d be glad to give you more benefits of my past experience in Rimbaud-translating. (But of course not if you don’t want me to.) … Sometimes it ...

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