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Fred Chappell, author of numerous works of verse and fiction, was Poet Laureate of North Carolina from 1997 to 2002.
A few years ago, an editor at The Oxford American telephoned to request that I write a piece for that journal about the Calder Willingham-Fred Chappell feud.
Most writers feel honored by literary prizes—in the way I feel so honored by the award of the T.S. Eliot prize—whether they accept them or not. At the same time, many writers share the wish that their vocation could be carried on anonymously.
The Hard to Catch Mercy, William Baldwin's entrancing first novel, is bound to remind some readers of Mark Twain, especially of some of the bleaker pages of moral fables like The Mysterious Stranger and The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg.
With the deaths of Robert Penn Warren and Walker Percy the specter of the star system is loose again in the land. "Who will be their successors? Who will pick up their mantle?"
It was Donald Hall who gave us that useful and precise critical term "McPoem" to describe the garden variety contemporary poem in flabby free verse whose dismal ambitions are set to a spavined music.
Madison Smartt Bell has a penchant for keeping his fiction mysterious at its deepest core. The protagonist of his 1985 novel, Waiting for the End of the World, is a fellow called Larkin who is out to destroy New York City for no reason a reader can ever discern.
Ordinary people, we are told, ordinarily speak in cliches, bromides, and dotty banalities, and it is the task of the literary artist, of the playwright in particular, to give them expressive and convincing words.
She was a handsome woman, Raylene Thomason, not what you'd call beautiful, but with Cherokee blood that gave her a broad pleasant face with a clean jawline and steady dark eyes.
Louis Simpson stands as an easy example of the poet divided, whose best talents and strongest predilections are at odds with one another. He takes Walt Whitman as spiritual father and his relationship with the figure of Whitman is as troubled and ambiguous as any son's might be with a blood father.
Upon a confirmed gringo like me, contemporary Spanish language poetry makes much the same impression as contemporary Spanish or Latin American concert music. Broad prairies of cadenza enclose a garden patch of melodic theme, an orotund thunder of flourish results in a brief shower of substance.
Susan had set up the ironing board in the kitchen and upended the iron there while she sprinkled her blouse. I could not detect the heat waves rising from the face of the iron, but the morning sun showed them clearly on the refrigerator door, curling and uncurling in hypnotic arabesque.
The true facts of the case will lie hidden in time forever. For our purpose here, we can accept the official version; that the emperor Augustus in the year 8 A.D. exiled the poet Ovid to Tomis, a harsh and barbarous town on the edge of the empire, because he had published his Ars Amatoria or Art of Love some 10 years earlier.
Something happened. The juice went out of it, the largest joy. There may arise figures analogous to Emily Dickinson, or even to John Clare, but no experienced lover of poetry expects a new Keats or a new Shelley or Hardy to appear in our generations.
Surprisingly often we talked about Vergil, usually about the Aeneid, but sometimes about the Georgics, and then with the wry sentimental fondness of old students who had been made, not quite willingly, to go to school to the poem.
In George Garrett's stories the conflict often arises between a wild lone Outsider and a generally conscientious but insecure Establishment figure; in Peter Taylor's stories the conflict is likely to take place between generations, the revolt of the young against their elders.
The last sentence in Russell Banks's magnificent novel is surprising in its inevitability: "Go, my book, and help destroy the world as it is." Here is a sentence to conclude a politically radical novel, a story of socially revolutionary purpose.
Publisher Louis Rubin has discovered a bright new exponent of Southern realism. Crisp snapshots in these two novels-is fully developed fiction to follow?
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