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  #31  
Unread 01-30-2020, 10:03 AM
James Brancheau James Brancheau is offline
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I didn't wiki this, but didn't Dickey work at an ad agency, at least for a time? Anyway, I think attacking him for being an ass is maybe the wrong approach. Some of his work is right on, though I think I do agree with some criticisms Sam might have.

Roger, James could be a little flamboyant in his introductions. But a really good teacher, some great poems, in my book. Here's link to a favorite of mine:
http://www.versedaily.org/lilyjr.shtml
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  #32  
Unread 01-30-2020, 10:38 AM
Roger Slater Roger Slater is offline
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James, I didn't mean to criticize Reiss at all. In fact, although I've grown less enthusiastic in later years, his book "The Breathers" was one of my favorites in college.

Speaking of college, in college I once was at a gathering that included Philip Levine. The subject of discussion turned at one point to Dickey, and I remember clearly that Levine said something like, "Just because someone's an ass doesn't mean they can't write good poems," and then he mentioned a few poems of Dickey he thought were truly wonderful.

Last edited by Roger Slater; 01-30-2020 at 10:41 AM.
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  #33  
Unread 01-30-2020, 11:00 AM
James Brancheau James Brancheau is offline
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No no, Roger, I didn't think you were being critical. More than anything it made me remember and smile.

*Levine said that? Ha! Great you got to meet him, like that. I know little about Philip Levine and feel a little guilty about it.

Last edited by James Brancheau; 01-31-2020 at 12:13 AM. Reason: word choice
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  #34  
Unread 01-31-2020, 09:09 AM
Rob Wright Rob Wright is offline
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The question of basing – or allowing yourself to be biased – by the behavior of an poet is an old question. Indeed there is an industry around tales – most them without foundation – of Shakespeare's life (holding horses for gentlemen attending the theater). I'm sure John Wilmot was a bad risk for a loan and that Rimbaud was tediously self-involved, but oddly I never think of those things when I read their work. And if I ever find myself falling into tall-telling about poets, I have to remind myself, "If you're looking for good behavior with these men and women, brother, you're in the wrong shop."
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  #35  
Unread 01-31-2020, 11:47 AM
James Brancheau James Brancheau is offline
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Yeah, I'm with you, Rob. I try not to let personal differences, or felonies, take away from what's on the page. At the same time, I can't blame those who find it way too much of a distraction. I don't agree with that view, but I understand it.

Last edited by James Brancheau; 02-01-2020 at 01:03 AM. Reason: gratuitous and edited down
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  #36  
Unread 02-29-2020, 10:51 AM
Rob Wright Rob Wright is offline
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James (and Sam, if you're there). Dickey did, in fact meet Sexton. They were at – what Diane Middlebook in her biography of A.S. describes as "literary gathering" at Syracuse U in Dec '65. Sexton called up Dickey wanted to talk about his scathing review of "All My Pretty Ones." Predictably he asked he if she "slept around," then sent her some letters which were rather unguarded. She called him and told him to stop, and though Sexton's husband overheard her side of the conversation dismissed it all, because, in his words, "All poets are jerks, anyway."

Another note. Elizabeth Bishop wrote to Lowell to sooth him when comparisons were made from Sexton's first two books and "Life Studies." Apparently Lowell was stung that his protege should be spoken in the same breath with him. Bishop – possibly in an effort to sooth his ego – described Sexton's poems as "our old beautiful silver school female writing." Even accepting that Lowell's ego would require enough air to fill a banquet hall, this is an extraordinary statement. Also it shows that Bishop, famous for refusing to participate in anthologies that were for women only, singles out Sexton as "a female writer."

Well, this is a lot of blather, but your post have gotten me thinking, and rereading Dickey, Sexton, Bishop – even Lowell, and that's all to the good.
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  #37  
Unread 03-05-2020, 03:34 PM
James Brancheau James Brancheau is offline
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Instead of my blather, here's another Dickey poem. It's a mixed bag, imo, but I love many moments, and particularly the first stanza.

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poe.../the-lifeguard

I can't believe his behavior towards Sexton. What a pig. Thanks much for the behind the scenes look, Rob. Didn't know any of that.

Last edited by James Brancheau; 03-06-2020 at 02:26 AM. Reason: replaced my usual meanderings
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  #38  
Unread 03-16-2020, 05:40 PM
Rob Wright Rob Wright is offline
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James,

that one is a beauty. Thanks so much. It was unfamiliar, yet even if I had not seen the attribution, I would have known instantly who wrote it. Moon, trees, water – how well me weaves those words, makes them surface just at the right points. An the ambiguity of it. Is the water child living? The length of the poem – its extension though those stanzas make me as a reader wonder if the narrator/lifeguard has kept a vigil though the night. The other day I was thinking that in "The Heaven of Animals" it is also hell – at least for the "bright backs of prey" who "fall, are torn, they rise again." Once more thanks for this.
And yes, it was rather swinish.
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  #39  
Unread 03-19-2020, 12:18 PM
James Brancheau James Brancheau is offline
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Hey Rob, happy to hear you liked that one. The first two stanzas are perfect for me. They hit every note. But I really do think he got caught in a story and it dragged from there. But still loved some moments onward. Probably why I started the thread. He just has too many poignant, unignorable moments to be written off.
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