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James Brancheau 11-22-2019 04:10 PM

James Dickey
Or, my defense of James Dickey.

R. S. Gwynn 11-25-2019 06:48 PM

I liked him when I was an adolescent, but too many of his poems remained adolescent. I know what you're saying/defending, but there is just too much of it that I can't read with a straight face.

James Brancheau 11-26-2019 02:01 PM

Yeah, I hear you, Sam. And I think there's a little Born to Run in that one (which does work for me given the situation). This somehow reminds me a little of our differences regarding Li-young Lee. Anyway, I know Dickey's generally fallen out of favor, but I still love some of his stuff. And in the poems that no longer hold up for me, I usually find something there that's quite nice.

Rob Wright 12-02-2019 12:46 PM

Although it is rather rough, technically, The Heaven of Animals has always struck me as a great poem.

James Brancheau 12-05-2019 08:28 AM

One of my favorites, Rob. Though I could do without S9 and 10, I love this one too.

The first four and a half stanzas are gorgeous. Right on. But I do agree with Sam to an extent, though I might characterize it as more lazy than adolescent. The last stanza is nice here too, imo.

Mark McDonnell 12-07-2019 08:21 AM

I love the poem, James. But I might have a higher tolerance for adolescent romantic junkyard Americana than most. All I knew of James Dickey was that he wrote 'Deliverance' (which I haven't read) and had a great cameo in the film (which I love) as the smilingly threatening sheriff at the end.

Rob Wright 12-07-2019 01:08 PM

I agree with your edits entirely. Wonderful opening, then at the end – flabby. But the images – as usual are wonderful and intriguing.

I've been looking at the Dickey selection in MacClatchy's Vintage Book of Contemporary American Poetry, and like what I see there: The Hospital Window and of course The Sheep Child – which I still like as an adult. Thanks for reminding me of him.

David Rosenthal 12-08-2019 04:17 PM

I think "Falling" is a great poem. I also like "Snakebite," and "To His Children in Darkness." At his best he was very good, but there is a lot to sift through.

David R.

James Brancheau 12-12-2019 12:58 PM

Never read Deliverance and I didn't see the movie. Burt Reynolds in that, too, right? Always thought he was an interesting guy, for whatever reason. Yeah, Dickey's been swept under the rug a bit, so I was itching to mention him. He was big for me when I started to care about poetry, but I do understand the criticism. I felt I outgrew him at a certain point. But I didn't, as much as I thought, and the descriptions of the paintings above his affair are brilliant, so had to post that poem. He sums up poetry, the goodest of the goodest, and the pretty bad. He's helped me both ways.

Rob Wright 12-15-2019 01:55 PM

I just found a quote by Dickey in a review written of Anne Sexton's (even less popular here than Dickey, on this site I'd imagine) All My Pretty Ones, where he writes, "It would be hard to find writer who dwells more insistently on the pathetic and disgusting aspects of bodily experience." Really? Come now Jimmy, as author of "The Sheep Child" let alone "Deliverance," you are a pot calling kettles here. Whatever your opinion of All My Pretty Ones, it does have a ripper of a sonnet in "For a Friend Whose Work has Come to Triumph," which, in my opinion has more craft and wit than anything you ever wrote. (Gauntlet down).

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