By Kevin Stein
“No doubt because Stein is both poet and critic, his study is readable, vivid, unclotted, and written with flair and fluidity.”
“Stein’s analysis of an important shift in contemporary American poetry should interest any serious student of the genre.”
North Dakota Quarterly
At a time when poets appear tragically detached from the public for which they write, Kevin Stein persuasively demonstrates in Private Poets, Worldy Acts the way a particular group of diverse poets have manifested their communal concerns. As Choice wrote, “Stein’s graceful text is a primer on the relationship of the (American) poetic to the political.”
Looking through the lens of the careers of Robert Lowell, James Wright, Frank O'Hara, Adrienne Rich, Philip Levine, Yusef Komunyakaa, Rita Dove, David Wojahn, and Carolyn Forché, Stein illuminates the various ways contemporary poets redeem a vision of personal, aesthetic, and social relevancy from the shadow of traditionally narrated history.
Available now in an affordable paperback format, Private Poets, Worldly Acts is a thoughtful and compelling look into American poetry’s redemptive venture into the public arena. What results is a renewed appreciation of contemporary poets' personal conversation with the culture to which they belong.
Kevin Stein is a poet and critic and the author of James Wright: The Poetry of a Grown Man (Ohio University Press, 1988) and Private Poets, Wordly Acts (Ohio University Press, 1996). He teaches at Bradley University.
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In the two decades that have passed since Robert Lowell’s death, Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors is the first critical survey of the poet's aesthetic efforts to make personal vision and public exhortation cohere and thus combine poetic genres that have been historically discrete.